Cabaret, Operetta, and Quintessential Viennese Charm—Composers from Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven to Lehar, Johan Strauss Jr., Fritz Kreisler, Korngold, Mahler and Schonberg Capture the Many Faces of the Imperial City.

Close Encounters with Music presents “Café Vienna—Nervous Splendor,” Sunday, May 19, 4 PM at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Join us for this intriguing chamber music performance!

The ”Café Vienna” program takes a cross-section of Viennese musical modes—from operetta to waltz, Beethoven’s Piano Trio which spins on a popular song by Weigl, to Schubert’s sublime testament to his beloved métier, “An die Musik.”  And of course, the quintessential café music of Fritz Kreisler, “Caprice Viennois.”  In charm, verve, and artistic sophistication, Vienna’s past is unsurpassed. 

The imperial “City of Song” has played an essential role as a leading European cultural center, hosting major personalities in the development of music, as well as literature, painting, psychiatry and intellectual thought, from the 16th to 20th centuries. As in the architecture, musical styles that sprang up are a mix of Baroque, Classical, Art Nouveau, Modernist and sleek contemporary. During the 19th century, the café became a meeting place for the creative set in town.  Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms, Johan Strauss Jr., Mahler, Korngold, all of whom are represented on the program, could be found in their favorite coffee houses, penning compositions while greeting the likes of Gustav Klimt, Arthur Schnitzler, Stefan Zweig, Rilke, Freud, Kafka, Werfel, or Wittgenstein.

“The city was the crowning glory of the Hapsburg empire. The paradox of its reaching unparalleled heights in the flowering of the arts, literature, sciences as it was gradually crumbling – declining politically and economically – makes it a fascinating historical case study.  From the founder of the classical dynasty, Haydn, all the way to the rebellion of Arnold Schonberg, and everything in between – cabaret, operetta, Beethoven trio—the program is as eclectic as Vienna itself was” says artistic director Yehuda Hanani.  

Under the artistic influence of mezzo-soprano Emily Marvosh, pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute, and violinist Xiao-Dong Wang, who join cellist and artistic director Yehuda Hanani, Vienna’s magic will cast its spell.  

All performers are frequent guests of Close Encounters With Music. Lithuanian pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute’s ability to communicate the essential substance of a work has led critics to describe her as possessing “razor-sharp intelligence and wit” and “subtle, complex, almost impossibly detailed and riveting in every way” (The Washington Post) and as “an artist of commanding technique, refined temperament and persuasive insight” (The New York Times).  American contralto Emily Marvosh has been gaining recognition for her “plum-wine voice,” and “graceful allure,” on the stages of Carnegie Hall, Jordan Hall, Disney Hall, Lincoln Center, Prague’s Smetana Hall and Vienna’s Stefansdom. Following her solo debut at Boston’s Symphony Hall in 2011, she has been a frequent soloist with the Handel and Haydn Society. Recent solo appearances include the American Bach Soloists, Washington National Cathedral, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. Xiao-Dong Wang, who has been called the most talented violinist to emerge from China, has performed as soloist with orchestras around the world, including the London Royal Philharmonic, the London Mozart Players, Adelaide, Perth, Queensland symphony orchestras and Sydney Opera Orchestra.

As of this season, CEWM has fully resumed its hors d’oeuvres and wine receptions.  Audience members are invited to meet the artists and enjoy beverages and bites by Authentic Eats by Oleg on stage at the Afterglow receptions. Join us!

TICKET INFORMATION 

Tickets, $52 for Orchestra and Mezzanine and $25 for Balcony seats, can be purchased at www.cewm.org or by calling 413-528-0100.  In addition to offering live in-person concerts, curated online performances are available to accommodate geographically remote listeners and newly expanded virtual followers. Tickets are $28 for individual programs, delivered to your email address!

“CEWM patrons have learned that sooner or later they’ll be blindsided by a performance so sublime it will defy explanation.”  – The Berkshire Edge

Close Encounters with Music presents “Something Borrowed, Something Blue — Cross-Cultural Synergy” on Sunday, April 14 at 4pm at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Chertock and Zorman join internationally renowned cellist and artistic director Yehuda Hanani for an adventurous musical voyage. Join us for this intriguing chamber music performance!

Debussy and Ravel in Spanish attire; Haydn’s “Gypsy” Trio, Beethoven Turkish Marches, Synagogue Prayer in Gregorian Mode, Tango, and Other Exotica Enliven and Extend the Composers’ Palettes and Listeners’ Pleasures.  And Celebrating 100th Anniversary of Gershwin’s 1924 Rhapsody in Blue!

Press Release

Close Encounters With Music’s Winter / Spring 2024 concerts continue on Sunday, April 14 with an afternoon of jazz, tango, liturgy, waltz, Habanera and Gershwin’s wildly popular Rhapsody in Blue, known for its integration of jazz and classical music – and written on the train between New York and Boston!  Composers include Haydn (Gypsy tunes), Max Bruch (German composer retrofits synagogue “Kol Nidrei” prayer), Ravel and Debussy (Spanish and North African heritage), César Cui (Russian composer writes “Orientale”), and Astor Piazzolla (tango goes to Paris!).     

Michael Chertock, piano; Itamar Zorman, violin; Yehuda Hanani, cello.

Pianist Michael Chertock has been a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, the symphony orchestras of Toronto, Baltimore, Detroit, Utah and Oregon, and made his Carnegie Hall debut with the Cincinnati Pops.  Since his emergence winning top prize at the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, violinist Itamar Zorman has wowed audiences all over the world with his breathtaking style, causing one critic to declare him a “young badass who’s not afraid of anything.”  Also winner of the 2013 Avery Fisher Career Grant, he has performed as soloist with such orchestras as the Israel Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, German Radio Philharmonic, and RTE National Symphony Orchestra (Dublin), working with Zubin Mehta, Michael Tilson-Thomas, David Robertson, Valery Gergiev, Karina Canellakis and Yuri Bashmet.  Chertock and Zorman join internationally renowned cellist and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani in “Something Borrowed, Something Blue—Cross-Cultural Synergy” for an adventurous musical voyage.

Read artist bios here.

CEWM has resumed its hors d’oeuvres and wine Afterglow receptions on stage following the concerts. Audience members are invited to meet the artists and enjoy beverages and bites by Authentic Eats by Oleg. Join us!

TICKET INFORMATION 

Tickets, $52 (Orchestra and Mezzanine) and $28 (Balcony), can be purchased at www. cewm.org or by calling 413-528-0100. We also offer a virtual option—tickets are $28 for individual programs, delivered to your email address!

Makaris Celtic Band 12 musicians holding lyres, flutes, cellos standing against a stone wall

Close Encounters With Music presents the Celtic Baroque Band Makaris in “A Bach Family Concert with an Irish Twist” on Saint Patrick’s Day, Sunday, March 17, 4pm at Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

Violin, Guitar, Harp and Harpsichord Meet Bagpipes and Irish Whistle in a Cross-Genre Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration

In his dance suites, J.S. Bach ventures into Spanish sarabandes, French bourrées, and British gigues. He and family members delighted in arranging Celtic and Scottish folk music. They will be joined by Beethoven and Haydn who also forayed into Irish folk music with their own arrangements. Makaris formed in 2018 to explore the broad musical heritage of Scotland and the following year released its disc Wisps in the Dell, to critical international acclaim.

“Absolutely wonderful…one of the very best releases of 2019 – MusicWeb International).  A makar (pl. makaris) was a royal court troubadour of medieval Scotland and the program provides a lush sampling from the ensemble’s collection. “You can’t help but feel like you’ve suddenly traveled back in time and are enjoying a tankard of old Scottish ale inside a seedy establishment.”

Classical Music Sentinel

Scottish music proved creatively productive and financially lucrative for several composers during the 18th century. Haydn and Beethoven alone arranged hundreds of these traditional songs for home performance. The songs included dance calls, serenades, expressions of unrequited love, laments for lost loved ones, and all manner of joyous and gruesome subjects. Well-known names from orchestral music and opera clothed the folksy melodies and down-to-earth lyrics in sophisticated arrangements and their own styles. The ensemble Makaris’s debut CD, Wisps in the Dell, shows why this repertoire proved so popular with audiences and artists.

About Makaris

Members of New York-based 10-member Makaris include Fiona Gillespie, a classically-trained singer, songwriter and composer who holds degrees in voice performance from Westminster Choir College and the University of North Texas; and Eliott Figg, keyboardist, conductor and composer, a graduate of the Historical Performance Program at Juilliard who recently appeared with New Vintage Baroque and as conductor and harpsichordist with Little Opera Theatre of New York, with Spoleto Festival USA and L.A. Opera.  The leader of the ensemble, cellist, viola da gamba and lirone player Kivie Cahn Lipman performs and records with Le Strange Viols.  He formed ACRONYM Baroque Band, who have been guests of CEWM several times, because he discovered 17th-century music in old manuscripts which have to date translated into eight CDs of modern premieres recorded and more on the way! Cahn-Lipman is a graduate of Oberlin, Juilliard, and the University of Cincinnati where he received his doctorate studying under CEWM artistic director Yehuda Hanani.

Afterglow Reception Post Concert

As of this season, CEWM has fully resumed its hors d’oeuvres and wine receptions.  Audience members are invited to meet the artists and enjoy beverages and bites by Authentic Eats by Oleg on stage at the Afterglow receptions. The concert fortuitously coincides with St. Patrick’s Day. Join us for a toast!

Ticket Information

Tickets are $52 for Orchestra and Mezzanine and $25 for Balcony seats, can be purchased at www.cewm.org or by calling 800-843-0778. Pro-rated Season subscriptions for the remainder of 2024 ($185 Regular, $160 Senior), are available until February 11 at cewm.org. We also offer a virtual option—tickets are $28 for individual programs, delivered to your email address one week post performance.

“CEWM patrons have learned that sooner or later they’ll be blindsided by a performance so sublime it will defy explanation.”

— The Berkshire Edge

Felix Mendelssohn, Giacomo Puccini, Court Intrigue, Ancient Persia, and Early Feminism in Stacy Garrop’s Berkshire Premiere on Sunday, February 11, 4 PM at Saint James Place, Great Barrington

Close Encounters With Music’s 2024 Winter / Spring chamber music concerts open on February 11th with the return of the estimable Avalon String Quartet, bringing to the stage the Berkshire premiere of “For Such a Time as This.” The work is a retelling of the biblical Book of Esther for string quartet and vocalist, from a feminist perspective. Composer Stacy Garrop’s (recent commissions from the Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Louisiana symphony orchestras) intent is to remind us “we each possess agency to make changes happen in our lives, to act upon injustices, and leave the world a better place.” Mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley takes on the role of narrator, alternatively playing Queen Vashti, King Ahasuerus (identified as the historical Xerxes), Queen Esther and her guardian Mordecai from the 5th century BCE scroll, as well as the villain Haman who seeks to annihilate the entire Jewish population of Persia – modern day Iran. Bentley has been featured soloist with orchestras led by Raymond Leppard, Oliver Knussen, Robert Shaw and Pierre Boulez. Tickets Here.

In choosing the biblical tale, Garrop says, “I find several striking points. First, women had little or no agency over their lives. Biblical times were a man’s world. Vashti’s banishment at the beginning of the Book sets this tone immediately. The question whether Esther possesses the agency to act is addressed head on.” Court intrigue, a beauty pageant, and an averted genocide are elements of the gripping story, set to dramatic music.

Mendelssohn’s Quartet No. 2 pulsates with young love before landing in fairyland with a shimmering scherzo right out of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Puccini’s verismo-style “Chrysanthemums,” a seldom-performed gem, begins the concert.

Close Encounters has featured leading string quartets of today each season— the Dover, Ariel, Borromeo, Escher, Muir among others—and the Avalon is an audience favorite (“The Avalon—drop-dead gorgeous playing” – Classics Today) returning for their fourth visit.

Julia Bentley, narrator/mezzo-soprano, Avalon String Quartet: Blaise Magniere, violin; Marie Wang, violin; Anthony Devroye, viola; Cheng-Hou Lee, cello

The Art of the String Quartet—The Avalon

Sunday, February 11, 4 PM at Saint James Place, Great Barrington

CEWM has resumed its hors d’oeuvres and wine receptions. There is an Afterglow Reception in Saint James Place’s Great Hall following the concert in the Sanctuary Space. Audience members are invited to meet the artists and enjoy beverages and bites by Authentic Eats by Oleg. Join us!

In addition to offering live in-person concerts, curated online performances will be available to accommodate geographically remote listeners and newly expanded virtual followers.

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets, $52, can be purchased at www.cewm.org or by calling 800-843-0778. Prorated Season subscriptions for the remainder of 2024 ($185 Regular, $160 Senior) are available at cewm.org. We also offer a virtual option—tickets are $28 for individual programs or $100 for the complete season, delivered to your email address!

“CEWM patrons have learned that sooner or later they’ll be blindsided by a performance so sublime.” The Berkshire Edge

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Avalon String Quartet

Described by the Chicago Tribune as “an ensemble that invites you — ears, mind, and spirit — into its music,” the Avalon String Quartet has established itself as one of the country’s leading chamber music ensembles. The Avalon has performed in major venues including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the 92nd St Y, Merkin Hall, and Bargemusic in New York; the Library of Congress and National Gallery of Art in Washington DC; Wigmore Hall in London; and Herculessaal in Munich. Other performances include appearances at the Bath International Music Festival, Aldeburgh Festival, Caramoor, La Jolla Chamber Music Society, NPR’s St. Paul Sunday, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Dame Myra Hess Concerts, Los Angeles Music Guild, and Ravinia. The quartet performs an annual concert series in historic Fullerton Hall at the Art Institute of Chicago, where it has presented the complete quartet cycles of Beethoven, Bartok, and Brahms in recent seasons. The Avalon is quartet-in-residence at the Northern Illinois University School of Music, a position formerly held by the Vermeer Quartet. Additional teaching activities have included the Interlochen Advanced Quartet Program, Madeline Island Music and the Britten-Pears School in England, as well as masterclasses at universities and conservatories throughout the United States. Additionally, they have given numerous performances and presentations to young audiences in under-resourced schools and communities. The Avalon captured the top prize at the ARD Competition in Munich (2000) and First Prize at the Concert Artists Guild Competition in New York City (1999). In its early years, the ensemble trained intensively with the

Julia Bentley, narrator/mezzo-soprano. Following apprenticeships with Santa Fe Opera and Chicago Lyric Opera, mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley appeared in leading operatic roles including Carmen, Rosina, Dorabella, Despina, and both Rossini and Massenet Cinderellas, from Anchorage to New York. Recognized by the New York Times for her “rich sound, deep expressivity and uncanny sense of pitch,” she has been featured as soloist with orchestras led by George Manahan, Raymond Leppard, Oliver Knussen, Robert Shaw and Pierre Boulez. Ms. Bentley performs frequently with Chicago’s many fine ensembles, including the Ear Taxi Festival, Contempo, eighth blackbird, the Spektral Quartet, Fulcrum Point, the Chicago Chamber Musicians, Chicago Opera Theater, the Newberry Consort, the Chicago Civic Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Lyric Opera and the MusicNOW series at Symphony Center with conductor Cliff Colnot. She has appeared to critical acclaim at Alice Tully Hall and Weill Hall with Pierre Boulez as the soloist in Le Marteau Sans Maître, and recorded on the Albany, Cedille and Tintagel labels. Recent engagements have included performances of La Damnation de Faust with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, Pierrot Lunaire with eighth blackbird, La Cenerentola with Sacramento Opera, Berg’s Lyric Suite with the Emerson String Quartet, and the Bach B Minor Mass with the Apollo Chorus as well as chamber music series in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. She is honored to have a 20-year affiliation with The New Budapest Orpheum Society and is featured in their Grammy-nominated CD As Dreams Fall Apart on Cedille Records. She served as an Associate Professor of Voice and Graduate Art Song Literature at the Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana.

Composer Stacy Garrop

Stacy Garrop’s music is centered on dramatic and lyrical storytelling. Dr. Garrop is a full-time freelance composer living in the Chicago area. Her catalog covers a wide range, with works for orchestra, opera, oratorio, wind ensemble, choir, art song, various sized chamber ensembles, and works for solo instruments. Recent commissions include Forging Steel for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Goddess Triptych for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Spectacle of Light for the Music of the Baroque Orchestra, Berko’s Journey for the Omaha Symphony, Song of Orpheus for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, The Battle for the Ballot for the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, In a House Besieged for The Crossing on texts by Lydia Davis, and Alpenglow, a double concerto for saxophone, tuba, and wind ensemble commissioned by a consortium of 18 organizations. Notable past commissions include My Dearest Ruth for soprano and piano with text by Martin Ginsburg, the husband of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Glorious Mahalia for the Kronos Quartet; Give Me Hunger for Chanticleer; Slipstream for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Musicians Chamber Music Series; and Terra Nostra (oratorio), commissioned by the San Francisco Choral Society. Dr. Garrop’s current commissions include upcoming projects with the U.S. Navy Band, Fauré Centennial Festival, and Chicago Opera Theater for a new opera with librettist Jerre Dye. Garrop has received numerous awards and grants including an Arts and Letters Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Fromm Music Foundation Grant. Recent performances of her orchestral works were given by the Baltimore, Chicago, Fort Collins, Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Reading, Richmond, and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras, of her wind ensemble works by the U.S. Marine Band and U.S. Navy Band; and of her chamber works by the Avalon String Quartet, Boston Trio, Capitol Saxophone Quartet, Ensemble Échappé, and the Lincoln Trio. Theodore Presser Company and ECS Publishing carry her works.

Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” and Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata Take Center Stage

On Sunday, December 3 at 4 PM, Close Encounters With Music, the Berkshires’ premiere chamber music organization, presents Nocturne – Night and Dreams, a multi-faceted program that explores nuances and contradictions of the night. Release from the brightness of daylight, from consciousness into sleep and dreaminess, the night’s seductive, mysterious potion-like allure has fascinated artists throughout the ages. Lullabies celebrate repose, the restful charm; serenades celebrate love. Other works mark the fear of darkness, the unseen and what may lurk beneath the veil of the night.

Composers from Mozart and Schubert to Borodin and Bernstein have been transfixed, lulled, soothed, and aroused. Beethoven evokes the enchantment of the moon in his iconic “Moonlight” Sonata; Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is a perennial favorite and will be performed in its original scoring. Leider by Schumann, Debussy, Fauré, arias from Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, and selections from favorite musicals (West Side Story and Man of La Mancha) demonstrate the universality of the theme. To paraphrase Walt Whitman, only the darkness of the night reveals all the stars—in the Heavens and on stage!

Italian pianist Fabio Bidini has appeared as soloist with orchestras worldwide—the London National Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra, San Francisco, Dallas and Philharmonia Orchestra Prague among many others. Baritone John Viscardi, who takes on the vocal repertoire in the program, also serves as executive director of Berkshire Lyric Arts, a vocal summer program. Mr. Viscardi’s performances with orchestra and recital include Carmina Burana with Opera Philadelphia and appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center and Carnegie Hall.  Also joining artistic director and cellist Hanani will be violinists Kobe Malkin and Grace Park, violist Luke Fleming, and double bassist Lizzie Burns.

All audience members are invited to an “Afterglow” reception with canapés from Authentic Eats by Oleg following each concert to meet the performers and one another!

In addition to offering live in-person concerts, curated online performances will be available to accommodate geographically remote listeners and newly expanded virtual followers.

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets, $52 (Orchestra and Mezzanine), $28 (Balcony) and $15 for students, are available through the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center or by calling 413-528-0100. Subscriptions are $250 ($225 for seniors) for the series of 7 concerts (a 35% savings!). Season subscriptions are available at [email protected]. We also offer a virtual option. Tickets are $28 or $100 for the complete season.

“CEWM patrons have learned that sooner or later they’ll be blindsided by a performance so sublime it will defy explanation.” — The Berkshire Edge

 “The Berkshires are home to distinguished cultural events, but none so brilliant, perhaps, as the chamber music series Close Encounters With Music.” —Berkshire Record 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Fabio Bidini, piano

Italian pianist Fabio Bidini is one of this generation’s top-flight pianists. His appearances have included performances with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican, the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, the San Francisco Symphony, New World Symphony, Dallas Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra Prague at the Rudolphinum, and the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra at Liszt Academy Hall. He has collaborated with conductors including Michael Tilson Thomas, Max Valdes, Dimitry Sitkovetsky, Ivan Fisher, Jesús López Cobos, JoAnn Falletta, Zoltan Kocsis, Michael Christie, and Gianandrea Noseda. Bidini’s schedule last season included orchestral appearances with the Buffalo Philharmonic, where he has performed close to a dozen times, and with the Fresno Philharmonic.  In great demand as a chamber music partner, he is the pianist of the highly acclaimed Los Angeles Piano Trio and has enjoyed artistic collaboration with many ensembles and artists including Trio Solisti, the Modigliani Quartet, American String Quartet, Janacek Quartet, Brodsky Quartet, Szymanowski Quartet, Zoltan Kocsis, and Dimitri Ashkenazy. In 2015 the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles founded the Carol Colburn Grigor Piano Chair for him, and he currently serves on the faculty.

John Viscardi, tenor

John Viscardi has moved audiences around the world with his vocal beauty and dramatic intensity, having performed with Santa Fe Opera, Opera Philadelphia, New York City Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Opera Carolina. Viscardi is a winner of both the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition and the Concorso Internazionale F.P. Tosti. Last season’s engagements included his role début as Cavardossi in Opera Carolina’s Tosca, a production of Pelléas at Mélisande with Los Angeles Opera, Hardin’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall, and Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus with Opera San Luis Obispo. This season, Mr. Viscardi will join Opera Louisiane to sing Conrad in Hell’s Bells and Intermountain Opera Bozeman in Montana to sing Rodolfo in La Bohème. Mr. Viscardi attended the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.

Kobi Malkin, violin

Israeli violinist Kobi Malkin, is making his mark as both as an exciting soloist and a perceptive chamber musician. He was praised by the New York Times for his “aptly traversed palette of emotions, from languid introspection to fevered intensity with gorgeous tone and an edge-of-seat intensity.”  As a soloist, Malkin has appeared with the Ashdod Chamber Orchestra, the Haifa Symphony Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Jerusalem Music Academy Symphony Orchestra Haifa, New England Conservatory’s Philharmonia, Symphonette Ra’anana, the Ruse Philharmonic Orchestra, the Young Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, and Orquesta de Camara de Bellas Artes, the Saint Louis Symphony and the Chicago Philharmonic under the batons of such conductors as Ze’ev Dorman, Stanley Sperber and Hugh Wolff. Malkin’s musicianship has been recognized by many awards, including the prestigious Ilona Kornhauser prize in the America-Israel Cultural Foundation’s Aviv Competitions, New England Conservatory’s Violin Competition, Haifa Symphony Orchestra’s Zvi Rotenberg Competition, the Canetti International Violin Competition, as well as scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, and has performed at an array of venues such as New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, Boston’s Jordan Hall, Vienna Konzerthaus, Ruse’s Philharmonic Hall, Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. He holds a Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Sylvia Rosenberg and Donald Weilerstein, and a Bachelor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory, where he worked under the guidance of Miriam Fried. 

Luke Fleming, violin

Praised by The Philadelphia Inquirer for his “glowing refinement,” violist Luke Fleming‘s performances have been described by The Strad as “confident and xpressive…playing with uncanny precision,” and lauded by Gramophone for their “superlative technical and artistic execution.”   Festival appearances include the Marlboro Music School and Festival, the Steans Institute at Ravinia, Perlman Music Program, the Norfolk and Great Lakes Chamber Music Festivals, the Melbourne Festival, Bravo!Vail, and Festival Mozaic. Formerly the violist of the internationally acclaimed Attacca Quartet, he has served as Artist-in-Residence for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and received the National Federation of Music Clubs Centennial Chamber Music Award.  He was awarded First Prize at the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition and top prizes at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. In 2015, Mr. Fleming became the Founding Artistic Director of both the Manhattan Chamber Players, a New York-based chamber music collective, and the Crescent City Chamber Music Festival. He currently serves as Adjunct Professor of Viola at the University of New Orleans School of the Arts. Mr. Fleming holds the degrees of Doctor of Musical Arts, Artist Diploma, and Master of Music from the Juilliard School, a Postgraduate Diploma with Distinction from the Royal Academy of Music in London, and a Bachelor of Music summa cum laude from Louisiana State University.  

ABOUT ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, Yehuda Hanani

Named “one of the most polished performers of the post-Starker generation and a consistently expressive artist.” by The New York Times, Yehuda Hanani’s charismatic playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and reengagements across the globe. He has won wide international recognition as soloist, chamber musician and inspiring pedagogue. His concerto appearances have been with the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, San Antonio, New Orleans, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Irish National Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Jerusalem Symphony, Honolulu Symphony, Taipei and Seoul symphonies among many other orchestras, and he has toured with I Solisti de Zagreb, conducting from the cello. A frequent guest at Aspen, Bowdoin, Chautauqua, Yale at Norfolk, Great Lakes, Casals Prades, Finland Festival, Ottawa, Oslo, Round Top Institute, Manchester, and the Australia Chamber Music festivals, he has collaborated in performances with preeminent fellow musicians, including Leon Fleisher, Aaron Copland, Christoph Eschenbach, David Robertson, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Itzhak Perlman, Vadim Repin, Julian Rachlin, Dawn Upshaw, Yefim Bronfman, Eliot Fisk, the Tokyo, Vermeer, Muir, Escher, Ariel, Colorado, and Manhattan quartets. His recording of the monumental Alkan Cello Sonata received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination, and on CD and in live performances, he has given premières of works of Nikolai Miaskovsky, Lukas Foss, Leo Ornstein, Paul Schoenfield, Thea Musgrave, Joan Tower, Eduard Franck, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Tamar Muskal, Virgil Thomson, William Perry and Pulitzer Prize winners Bernard Rands and Zhou Long. In New York City, he has appeared as soloist at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully, and the Metropolitan Museum. Among the early designers and proponents of thematic programming, his engaging chamber music with commentary series, Close Encounters With Music, has captivated audiences from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Detroit, Calgary, Scottsdale, the Berkshires, and at the Frick Collection in New York City. A three-time recipient of the Martha Baird Rockefeller grant, Mr. Hanani’s studies were with Leonard Rose at Juilliard and with Pablo Casals. He has inspired scores of cellists as Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and previously served on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory. Artistic director of Berkshire High Peaks Festival, he presents master classes internationally at conservatories and for orchestras, including the Juilliard School, University of Indiana at Bloomington, New England Conservatory, McGill University, Paris Conservatoire, Berlin Hochschule für Music, Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School in London, Tokyo National University, Jerusalem Academy of Music, the Central Conservatories in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, and the New World Symphony in Miami. In recognition of his distinguished teaching, he was given
the title of honorary professor of the Tianjin Conservatory, China. His objective is to instill a sense of wonder and adventure in young musicians, to lead them to technical mastery and bridge tradition with innovation. He now is a member of the faculty of the Mannes College of Music in New York City.

Close Encounters With Music’s 32nd Season sparkles and vibrates with brilliant performers and thought-provoking themes in Great Barrington, Mass.

Season performances include Celtic Baroque Band Makaris in a Bach Family Concert with an Irish Twist and the story of Biblical Esther from a feminist perspective in a new work…and so much more!

Makaris Celtic Band 12 musicians holding lyres, flutes, cellos standing against a stone wall

This season offers the widest swath of genres, styles, composers and instruments—and of course, the great performers who share their brilliant artistry, including pianists Adam Golka, Fabio Bidini, Ieva Jokubaviciute, Max Levinson and Michael Chertock; violinists Giora Schmidt, Ara Gregorian, Hye-Jin Kim, Xiao-Dong Wang, Itamar Zorman;  vocalists John Viscardi, Julia Bentley and Emily Marvosh; the Avalon String Quartet, and Celtic Band Makaris. 

The Avalon String Quartet
Avalon String Quartet: © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2012

Artistic director Yehuda Hanani is welcoming audience members new to the Berkshires as well as long-time residents to join for intimate programs with outsize talent, in the beautiful landmark Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center “to regain a sense of Community through the inspiring and healing effects of the best music ever penned—from over 300 years ago to almost yesterday, with the ink just drying”!

Just a few of this season’s themes are explorations of what constitutes “virtuosity” in art; the historic allure of Vienna as a nexus of music and art and destination for composers, painters and groundbreaking thinkers; and cross-cultural synergy and its enriching effects. Featured works include Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachmusik,” Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata, and the incomparably beautiful Dvorak and Brahms Piano Quintets. 

All audience members are invited to an “Afterglow” reception following each concert to meet the performers and one another!

In addition to offering live in-person concerts, curated online performances will be available to accommodate geographically remote listeners and newly expanded virtual followers.

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets, $52 (Orchestra and Mezzanine), $28 (Balcony) and $15 for students, are available through the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center or by calling 413-528-0100. Subscriptions are $250 ($225 for seniors) for the series of 7 concerts (a 35% savings!). Season subscriptions are available at [email protected] and through our website.

“CEWM patrons have learned that sooner or later they’ll be blindsided by a performance so sublime it will defy explanation.”

—  The Berkshire Edge

(For Calendar listings, see below.)

2023-24 SEASON

Virtue and Virtuosity

Sunday, November 5, 2023 4 PM

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

The words are intricately related but diverge. Virtuosity: music that glorifies the possibilities of the instrument and the prowess of the performer—that titillates and stuns the audience in the Romantic tradition of Paganini.  It’s the violinist tight-rope walking on the strings, performing impossible feats, stretching the capabilities of the instrument, creating pacts with the Devil. Sarasate and Saint Saëns will dazzle (his gorgeous Rondo Capriccioso, a minefield for the violinist, will be performed on the cello, exponentially more challenging!). And introducing Russian/Ukrainian composer Nikolai Kapustin, whose Preludes offer a “Red and Hot” fusion of jazz and classical forms.  Pyrotechnics and acrobatics? Mastery of content and form? Craft plus magic as the ideal… According to Rodin, the greatest virtuosity is when you don’t notice it. The program touches on some of the most fundamental questions about the nature of art and culminates with the emotionally compelling and ineffably beautiful Brahms Piano Trio Op. 8.

Adam Golka, piano; Giora Schmidt, violin; Yehuda Hanani, cello; Philip Thompson, cello

Nocturne—Night and Dreams

Sunday, December 3, 2023 4 PM

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

Nuances of the night are explored in this multi-faceted program. Release from the brightness of daylight, from consciousness into sleep and dreaminess, the night’s seductive, mysterious potion-like allure has fascinated artists throughout the ages. Lullabies celebrate repose, the restful charm; serenades celebrate love.  Other works mark the fear of darkness, the unseen and what may lurk beneath the veil of night.  Composers from Mozart and Schubert to Borodin and Bernstein have been transfixed, lulled, soothed and aroused.  Beethoven evokes the enchantment of the moon in his iconic “Moonlight” Sonata; Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is a perennial favorite and will be performed in its original scoring. Lieder by Schumann, Debussy, Fauré, arias from Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet and selections from favorite musicals (West Side Story and Man of La Mancha) demonstrate the universality of the theme. To paraphrase Walt Whitman, only the darkness of the night reveals all the stars—in the Heavens and on stage!

Fabio Bidini, piano; John Viscardi, baritone; Kobi Malkin and Grace Park, violin; Luke Fleming, viola; Lizzie Burns, double bass; Yehuda Hanani, cello

The Art of the String Quartet—The Avalon

Sunday, February 11, 2024 4 PM

Saint James Place, Great Barrington

 The notable Avalon returns with another Berkshire premiere, “For Such a Time as This,” a retelling of the biblical Esther story for string quartet and vocalist, from a feminist perspective. Composer Stacy Garrop’s (recent commissions from the Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Louisiana symphony orchestras) intent is to remind us “we each possess agency to make changes happen in our lives, to act upon injustices, and leave the world a better place.” Mendelssohn’s Quartet No. 2 pulsates with young love before landing in fairyland with a shimmering scherzo right out of Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Puccini’s verismo-style “Chrysanthemums,” a seldom-performed gem, begins the concert.

Julia Bentley, narrator/mezzo-soprano, Avalon String Quartet: Blaise Magniere, violin; Marie Wang, violin; Anthony Devroye, viola; Cheng-Hou Lee, cello

“The Avalon—drop-dead gorgeous playing” – Classics Today

Celtic Baroque Band Makaris—A Bach Family Concert with an Irish Twist

Sunday, March 17, 2024 4 PM

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

In his dance suites, J. S. Bach ventures into Spanish sarabandes, French bourrées and British gigues.  He and family members delighted in arranging Celtic and Scottish folk music.  They will be joined by Beethoven and Haydn, who also forayed into Irish folk music with their own arrangements. Makaris formed in 2018 to explore the broad musical heritage of Scotland and the following year released its first disc, Wisps in the Dell, to critical international acclaim (“Absolutely wonderful…one of the very best releases of 2019” – MusicWeb International).  A makar (pl. makaris) was a royal court troubadour of medieval Scotland and the program provides a lush sampling from the ensemble’s collection. “You can’t help but feel like you’ve suddenly traveled back in time and are enjoying a tankard of old Scottish ale inside a seedy establishment.” – Classical Music Sentinel

Fiona Gillespie, soprano; Caitlin Hedge, violin; Ben Matus, Irish whistle, bassoon and bagpipes; Elliot Figg, harpsichord and organ; Kivie Cahn-Lipman, cello; Doug Ballilett, bass; Liv Castor, harp; Paul Morton, theorbo and guitar

Something Borrowed, Something Blue—Cross-Cultural Synergy!

Sunday, April 14, 2024 4 PM

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

The Romans appropriated the entirety of classical Greek culture, and the Renaissance rediscovered and revitalized it.  Then came Rodin and Greek Revival in American architectural style.  An Egyptomania craze gripped 19th century Europe and found its way into operas (Aida, Samson and Delilah), couture (harem pants as high fashion), architectural idioms, decorative arts, music and dance (arabesques).  Culinary arts, fashion (remember Issey Miyake?), painting, furniture design – we are all enriched, stimulated and invigorated by borrowed influences. An afternoon of Gershwin, Max Bruch (German composer uses synagogue “Kol Nidrei” prayer), Cesar Cui (Russian composer writes “Orientale”), Ravel’s “Habanera,” Haydn Trio (Gypsy movement) and more.  When the main stream gets tired, foreign tributaries recharge it!

Michael Chertock, piano; Itamar Zorman, violin; Yehuda Hanani, cello

Annual Luncheon Musicale Benefit

Sunday, May 5, 2024 12PM

At a Private Club in Lenox, Mass.

Celebrate the Salon in the Gilded Age elegance at a private Berkshires club. The scintillating atmosphere of the 19th century institution that helped promote artists, painters and musicians as the intelligentsia gathered to exchange ideas, enhanced by gaiety and ambience. Savor a superb lunch and support Close Encounters With Music. La vie est belle!

Reserve the date! Tickets will go on sale in March.

Café Vienna — “Nervous Splendor”

Sunday, May 19, 2024 4 PM

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

The imperial “City of Song” has played an essential role as a leading European cultural center, hosting major personalities in the development of music, as well as literature, painting, psychiatry and intellectual thought, from the 16th to 20th centuries.  As in the architecture, musical styles that sprang up are a mix of Baroque, Classical, Art Nouveau, Modernist and sleek contemporary.  During the 19th century, the café became a meeting place for the creative set in town.  Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms, Johan Strauss Jr., Mahler, Korngold, all of whom are represented on the program, could be found in their favorite coffee houses, penning compositions while greeting the likes of Gustav Klimt, Arthur Schnitzler, Stefan Zweig, Rilke, Freud, Kafka, Werfel, or Wittgenstein.  This program takes a cross-section of Viennese musical modes—from operetta to waltz, Beethoven’s Piano Trio which spins on a popular song by Weigl, to Schubert’s sublime testament to his beloved métier, “An die Musik.”  And of course, the quintessential café music of Fritz Kreisler, “Caprice Viennois.”  In charm, verve, and artistic sophistication, Vienna’s past is unsurpassed.

Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano; Xiao-Dong Wang, violin; Emily Marvosh, mezzo-soprano; Yehuda Hanani, cello

Gala Concert: Great Piano Quintets

Sunday, June 9, 2024 4 PM

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

Dvořák’s sublime Piano Quintet in A Major occupies a lofty place in the chamber music canon, at the same elevation as Brahms’s Piano Quintet in F minor, op. 34.  Simply put, both works are majestic, symphonic in scope, and invite the listener into a lost world of powerful beauty, profundity, and nobility of sentiments, peppered with folk tunes and polkas.  Dvořák admired Brahms, Brahms encouraged and mentored Dvořák. The combination of string quartet and piano lends the quintet a sonic grandeur as it joins two self-sufficient forces in an ideal partnership.  An all-star ensemble that shares the stage with artistic director Yehuda Hanani includes Max Levinson (“a brilliant American pianist…who touches the listener deeply and often—Los Angeles Times) and violist Jordan Bak (“a bright commanding presence…a rising star”—Boston Musical Intelligencer) making his CEWM debut. So concludes Season 32 of Close Encounters—bookended by the most miraculous output of Johannes Brahms and with Dvořák’s folkloric genius, spontaneity, and vitality.

Max Levinson, piano; Ara Gregorian and Hye-Jin Kim, violin; Jordan Bak, viola; Yehuda Hanani, cello

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC stands at the intersection of music, art, and the vast richness of various cultural traditions. Entertaining, erudite, lively commentary puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and enlighten your concert experience.

Join our community of friends and patrons as we continue our tradition of bringing together sublime chamber music, distinguished performers and musical commentary, all in convivial settings. Share the excitement of world premiere performances and meet some of the most original and influential figures in contemporary classical music, as well as up-and-coming stars of tomorrow. And to accommodate our newly expanded virtual followers, we are also offering a virtual pass to a curated online selection of performances.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC supports the renaissance of the Southern Berkshires by presenting six concerts this season at the landmark Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. Situated in the heart of Great Barrington’s historic district, the Mahaiwe offers modern comfort in the nostalgic atmosphere of a 100-year-old theater. A seventh performance is held at the acoustically superb Saint James Place. Join the growing number of culture enthusiasts who converge from the Berkshires, Hudson Valley, Northwest Connecticut, New York City and Boston for each Close Encounters event! Contributing Benefactors and Endowers are invited to a special gala dinner following the June concert (see Ticket Order form).

“…To experience the finest music ever written, presented by leading musicians of the day, in the inviting atmosphere of the Berkshires, is the best of all possible worlds. . . The quality of Lincoln Center with an intimacy that exceeds it….”

Yehuda Hanani, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

HOW TO REACH US

Close Encounters With Music

Post Office Box 34

Great Barrington, MA 01230

Web: cewm.org

e-mail: [email protected]  

If you don’t already, please follow us on social media! We work to keep our posts informative and inspiring. 

  Facebook: @closeencounterswithmusic Instagram:@closeencounterswithmusic

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC PRESENTS

Berkshire High Peaks Music Festival – Music with Altitude!

Visit Our Website

FEATURING THE MOONLIGHT SONATAS FACULTY CONCERTS AT BERKSHIRE SCHOOL JULY 21-30

CHOPIN, RACHMANINOFF, DEBUSSY, CHOPIN, BACH, VILLA-LOBOS IN THE HANDS OF MASTERS

The “Moonlight Sonatas” faculty concert on Tuesday, July 25, 7:30 PM showcases the brilliant guest artists who will share their experience and inspire a new generation of performers during the eleven-day festival. Pianists Alexander Shtarkman performs works by Ravel and Debussy; Gila Goldstein presents Chopin’s Prelude in C sharp minor, op. 45 and Polonaise-Fantasy in A flat major, Op. 61; and Ching-Yi Lin plays Bach/Rachmaninoff’s Partita No. 3 BWV1006. Artistic director Yehuda Hanani will play Dvorak’s Rondo for cello and piano. Soprano Danielle Talamantes and baritone Kerry Wilkerson present arias from Mozart operas and gems from the American Songbook. The program culminates with 9 festival cellists joining Ms. Talamantes in the rapturous Bachianas Brasileiras by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. 

“We are committed to bringing the very best artists and leading pedagogues to continue this musical tradition, here in the breathtaking environment that inspired generations of writers, artists and musicians,” says Hanani. Guest faculty and performers include violinists Peter Zazofsky, first prize winner of the Queen Elizabeth of Belgium Competition and Hye-Jin Kim, first prize winner at the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition at the age of nineteen; Metropolitan Opera soprano Danielle Talamantes, George Mason University baritone Kerry Wilkerson and opera director and conductor Jay Lesenger (who directed John Corigliano’s Ghosts of Versailles at Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown); pianists Alexander Shtarkman, a Van Cliburn Competition winner and Gila Goldstein, director of piano studies at Brown University; cellists Jeffrey Zeigler (former member of the renowned Kronos Quartet), Diego Fainguersch, first cellist of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Ross Harbaugh, member of the Bergonzi String Quartet, and Yehuda Hanani.

The festival Farewell Concert, Sunday July 30, 7:30 PM, will be a wall-to-wall celebration of participant achievement and faculty mentoring with over twenty pieces performed by fifty participants.  

A selection of the festival concerts taking place at Berkshire School’s Allen Theater and open to the public:

Sunday, July 23

7:30 PM – Concert Moonlight Sonatas (High Peaks residents perform)

Tuesday, July 25

7:30 PM – Concert Moonlight Sonatas (High Peaks Faculty perform)

Wednesday, July 26

7:30 PM – Concert Moonlight Sonatas (High Peaks residents perform)

Friday, July 28

3 PM – Private Concert in Tannersville, NY

7:30 PM – Concert Moonlight Sonatas (High Peaks residents perform)

Sunday, July 30

7:30 PM – Moonlight Sonatas — Farewell Concert popular concert locations, in

See our website for the full festival schedule.

MORE ABOUT THE HIGH PEAKS FESTIVAL

The Berkshire High Peaks Festival is a performing and teaching summer institute bringing together renowned musicians, pedagogues, and exceptionally gifted international students, normally held in the cultural hub of the southern Berkshires.  The intimate scale and highest level of talent make possible an invigorating ten days of discovery, exploration, bonding, and growth. The festival has an all-inclusive atmosphere, fostering camaraderie and cross-cultural exchange and understanding. The faculty is similarly international. In past summers, in addition to the classical canon, the music has focused on traditions ranging from Latin American tango to Japanese ceremonial drums to the heritage of Jazz and improvisation in addition to the classical canon. Central to the festival’s mission are performance opportunities for young artists on the cusp of their careers.  Faculty and guest performers have included the most respected classical musicians and teachers of our time: guitarist Eliot Fisk; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Elmar Oliveira, Peter Zazofsky, and Stefan Milenkovich; violists Pierre-Henri Xuereb and Michael Strauss; pianists James Tocco, Michael Chertock, and Vassily Primakov and cellists Thomas Landschoot, Sae Rom Kwon and Yehuda Hanani. Berkshire High Peaks concerts have taken place at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY; the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge,MA; Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill, NY; Orpheum Theater in Tannersville, NY; in the orchard at Olana, at Claremont Historical Site and at the Carey Center for Global Good in Rensselaerville, NY.

Berkshire High Peaks Festival Artistic Director YEHUDA HANANI has received acclaim across the globe for his charismatic playing and profound interpretations. An extraordinary recitalist, he is equally renowned for performances with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Irish National Symphony, Belgrade Symphony, Honolulu Symphony, Seoul Symphony, and BBC Welsh Symphony. His engaging chamber music with commentary series, Close Encounters With Music, has captivated audiences from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Calgary, Scottsdale, the Berkshires, and at the Frick Collection in New York City. He has been the subject of hundreds of articles and interviews in the media, and his weekly program on NPR affiliate station WAMC Northeast Radio, “Classical Music According to Yehuda” attracted thousands of fans. A prolific recording artist, he served on the faculties of the Johns Hopkins Peabody Conservatory, as Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and is now on the faculty of Mannes School in New York City.

Festival Returns to the Campus of Berkshire School in Sheffield, MA in the Beautiful and Culturally Dynamic Berkshire Hills. 

Performances Talks, Master Classes, and Gifted Musicians on the Cusp of Careers; Events are Free and Open to the Public July 20 – 30.

Berkshire High Peaks Festival will mount its 14th annual season on the bucolic campus of Berkshire School, in Sheffield, Mass, welcoming back string players and pianists from around the globe and adding a vocal department.

At the core of the festival are 50 international students of exceptional promise and demonstrated accomplishment who gather for intensive study, are coached as part of performing ensembles and enjoy discussions and workshops by prominent composers, renowned pedagogues, and notable figures in the music world as they prepare for professional lives.  

This year’s theme is “Pathways.” At a time when the music business is fraught with uncertainties and career paths aren’t as prescribed and predictable as previously, faculty will give a series of talks about how they found their individual places in the music world. All concerts, master classes, and talks will be open and free to the public.

The ten-day festival, directed by internationally acclaimed cellist Yehuda Hanani, will continue to make its offerings of “Moonlight Sonatas” concerts (faculty and participants perform), lectures, and master classes open to the public. Hanani and his renowned colleagues infuse students with love and enthusiasm for their musical vocation, instilling them with an appreciation for past traditions and a spirit of adventure and discovery—as well as connecting them to the Berkshire community and beyond with daily events. Highlights include a faculty concert on Tuesday, July 25, and a wall-to-wall farewell concert on July 30.

“We are committed to bringing the very best artists and leading pedagogues to continue this musical tradition, here in the breathtaking environment that inspired generations of writers, artists and musicians,” says Hanani. Guest faculty / performers include violinists Peter Zazofsky, First Prize winner of the Queen Elizabeth of Belgium Competition and Hye-Jin Kim, First prize winner at the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition at the age of nineteen; Metropolitan Opera soprano Danielle Talamantes, George Mason University baritone Kerry Wilkerson and opera director and conductor Jay Lesenger (who directed John Corigliano’s Ghosts of Versailles at Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown); and pianists Alexander Shtarkman, a Van Cliburn Competition winner and Gila Goldstein, director of piano studies at Brown University; cellists Jeffrey Zeigler (former member of the renowned Kronos Quartet), Diego Fainguersch, first cellist of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Ross Harbaugh, member of the Bergonzi String Quartet, and Yehuda Hanani. Jazz pianist John Esposito of Bard Conservatory will release the improvisor in each musician; and Juilliard’s chief operating officer, Lesley Rosenthal, will moderate a panel of faculty who will share insights into the pathway of their diverse careers.

“Music from High Peaks” has been presented in popular concert locations, including the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA; Orpheum Theater in Tannersville, NY; Basilica Hudson; the New York State Museum in Albany; Bridge Street Theater in Catskill, NY; the Carey Institute for Global Good in Rensselaerville, NY, and many others.  This July, in addition to the concerts that are scheduled at state-of-the-art Allen Theater at the Berkshire School, performances will take place at Chesterwood in West Stockbridge and in Tannersville, New York.  

The following are free and open to the public:

Friday, July 21

2 PM – Master Class Gila Goldstein (Longy School of Music, Brown Univ.), piano

4 PM – “Pathways to a Future in Music” – Panel Discussion with Juilliard Chief Operating Officer Lesley Rosenthal and High Peaks Faculty

Saturday, July 22

11 AM – Master Class Ara Gregorian (East Carolina Univ. School of Music), violin

2 PM – Master Class Danielle Talamantes and Kerry Wilkerson (Metropolitan Opera and George Mason University), vocalists

5 PM – Concert at Chesterwood, West Stockbridge (paid tickets required)

Sunday, July 23

11 AM – Master Class – Unleashing Your Inner Improviser! – John Esposito (Bard College Conservatory)

2 PM – Master Class Yehuda Hanani (Mannes School of Music), cello

7:30 PM – Concert Moonlight Sonatas (High Peaks residents)

Monday,July 24

2 PM – Master Class Jeffrey Zeigler (Frost School of Music), cello

4 PM – Opera Talk – Jay Lesenger (Former Artistic Dir. of the Chautauqua Opera Company)

7:30 PM – Concert Moonlight Sonatas (High Peaks residents)

Tuesday, July 25

2 PM – Master Class Alexander Shtarkman (Peabody Conservatory), piano

4 PM – Master Class Diego Fainguersch ((Institute of Art at the Teatro Colon), cello

7:30 PM – Concert Moonlight Sonatas (High Peaks Faculty perform)

Wednesday, July 26

2 PM – Master Class Ross Harbaugh (Frost School of Music), cello

4 PM —Master Class Hye-Jin Kim (East Carolina Univ. School of Music), violin

7:30 PM – Concert Moonlight Sonatas (High Peaks residents perform)

Thursday, July 27

2 PM – Master Class Ching-Yi Lin, piano

4 PM – Opera Talk II – Jay Lesenger (Former Artistic Dir. of the Chautauqua Opera Company)

Friday, July 28

3 PM – Private Concert in Tannersville, NY

7:30 PM – Concert Moonlight Sonatas (High Peaks residents perform)

Saturday, July 29

2 PM – Master Class Peter Zazofsky (Boston University), violin

Sunday, July 30

11 AM – Master Class – Unleashing Your Inner Improviser! – John Esposito (Bard College Conservatory 7:30 PM – Moonlight Sonatas — Farewell Concert popular concert

MORE ABOUT THE HIGH PEAKS FESTIVAL

The Berkshire High Peaks Festival is a performing and teaching summer institute bringing together renowned musicians, pedagogues, and exceptionally gifted international students, normally held in the cultural hub of the southern Berkshires.  The intimate scale and highest level of talent make possible an invigorating ten days of discovery, exploration, bonding, and growth. The festival has an all-inclusive atmosphere, fostering camaraderie and cross-cultural exchange and understanding. The faculty is similarly international. In past summers, in addition to the classical canon, the music has focused on traditions ranging from Latin American tango to Japanese ceremonial drums to the heritage of Jazz and improvisation in addition to the classical canon. Central to the festival’s mission are performance opportunities for young artists on the cusp of their careers.  Faculty and guest performers have included the most respected classical musicians and teachers of our time: guitarist Eliot Fisk; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Elmar Oliveira, Peter Zazofsky, and Stefan Milenkovich; violists Pierre-Henri Xuereb and Michael Strauss; pianists James Tocco, Michael Chertock, and Vassily Primakov and cellists Thomas Landschoot, Sae Rom Kwon and Yehuda Hanani. Berkshire High Peaks concerts have taken place at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY; the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge,MA; Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill, NY; Orpheum Theater in Tannersville, NY; in the orchard at Olana, at Claremont Historical Site and at the Carey Center for Global Good in Rensselaerville, NY.

Berkshire High Peaks Festival Artistic Director YEHUDA HANANI has received acclaim across the globe for his charismatic playing and profound interpretations. An extraordinary recitalist, he is equally renowned for performances with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Irish National Symphony, Belgrade Symphony, Honolulu Symphony, Seoul Symphony, and BBC Welsh Symphony. His engaging chamber music with commentary series, Close Encounters With Music, has captivated audiences from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Calgary, Scottsdale, the Berkshires, and at the Frick Collection in New York City. He has been the subject of hundreds of articles and interviews in the media, and his weekly program on NPR affiliate station WAMC Northeast Radio, “Classical Music According to Yehuda” attracted thousands of fans. A prolific recording artist, he served on the faculties of the Johns Hopkins Peabody Conservatory, as Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and is now on the faculty of Mannes School in New York City.

Visit Our Website

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC PRESENTS

From Bach Brandenburg to Appalachian Spring

with Manhattan Chamber Players 

Performed Live at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA

SUNDAY, APRIL 23, 4 PM

Bringing a “mellifluous blend of vigorous intensity and dramatic import, performed with enthusiasm, technical facility and impressive balance,” the 13-strong Manhattan Chamber Players make their Close Encounters With Music debut this season. In a program both orchestral (Brandenburg No. 3 and Copland’s iconic Appalachian Spring and reduced to octet for Mendelssohn’s early work (“Its youthful verve, brilliance and perfection make it one of the miracles of nineteenth-century music”), they demonstrate their versatility and virtuosity. First written as a ballet for Martha Graham and telling the story of 19th century pioneers celebrating spring after building a new Pennsylvania farmhouse, Copland’s reworking of the Appalachian Spring Suite has become one of the staples of the concert hall.

In addition to numerous engagements across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, MCP regularly tours throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and in Asia and the Middle East. Its players are current and former members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect, and the Amphion, Attacca, Dover, Escher, and Ying Quartets, as well as top prizewinners in the Banff, Concert Artists Guild, Fischoff, Naumburg, Osaka, Primrose, Queen Elisabeth, Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky, Tertis, and Young Concert Artists Competitions.

Manhattan Chamber Players, chamber orchestra

Tickets, $52 (Orchestra and Mezzanine), $28 (Balcony) and $15 for students, are available through Close Encounters With Music. Virtual tickets are also available.

Complete Information on the season’s seven concerts can be found here

Close Encounters With Music:

“Innovative and captivating…a smart blend of classical, contemporary, and cutting-edge.”

“CEWM patrons have learned that sooner or later they’ll be blindsided by a performance so sublime it will defy explanation.”  —  The Berkshire Edge

ABOUT THE ARTISTS-

The Manhattan Chamber Players are a chamber music collective of New York-based musicians who share the common aim of performing the greatest works in the chamber repertoire at the highest level. Formed in 2015 by Artistic Director and violist Luke Fleming, MCP is comprised of an impressive roster of musicians who all come from the tradition of great music making at the Marlboro Music Festival, Steans Institute at Ravinia, Music@Menlo, Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival and Perlman Music Program, and are former students of the Curtis Institute, Juilliard, Colburn, and the New England Conservatory. MCP has been praised in Strings Magazine for “A fascinating program concept…It felt refreshingly like an auditory version of a vertical wine tasting.” At the core of MCP’s inspiration is its members’ joy in playing this richly varied repertoire with longtime friends and colleagues, with whom they have been performing since they were students. Its roster allows for the programming of the entire core string, wind, and piano chamber music repertoire—from piano duos to clarinet quintets to string octets. While all its members have independent careers as soloists and chamber musicians, they strive for every opportunity to come together and again share in this special collaboration, creating “a mellifluous blend of vigorous intensity and dramatic import, performed with enthusiasm, technical facility and impressive balance. Members of MCP are current and former members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Ensemble Connect, and the Aizuri, Attacca, Dover, Escher and Vega quartets; the Aletheia, Appassionata, and Lysander Piano Trios; and Imani Winds. They are top prizewinners in the Banff, Concert Artists Guild, Fischoff, Melbourne, Naumburg, Osaka, Primrose, Queen Elisabeth, Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky, Tertis, and Young Concert Artists Competitions, and are some of the most sought-after solo and chamber performers of their generation. The Manhattan Chamber Players is the Ensemble-in-Residence at both the Festival de Febrero in Mexico and the Crescent City Chamber Music Festival in New Orleans. In addition to its numerous concerts across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, MCP regularly tours in Asia and the Middle East, and has led chamber music residency programs at institutions throughout the U.S. and abroad.

ABOUT CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC

Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Paul Schoenfield, Osvaldo Golijov, Thea Musgrave, Lera Auerbach, Jorge Martin, John Musto, among others—to create over 20 important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes pianists Max Levinson, Roman Rabinovich, and William Wolfram; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Cho-Liang Lin, Vadim Gluzman and clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein, Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Emily Marvosh and William Sharp; the Escher, Amernet, Muir, Manhattan, Dover, Avalon quartets, and Cuarteto Latinoamericano; and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs.

HOW TO REACH US

Close Encounters With Music

Post Office Box 34

Great Barrington, MA 01230

800.843.0778

Web: cewm.org

e-mail: [email protected]  

If you don’t already, please follow us on social media! We work to keep our posts informative and inspiring. 

Facebook: @closeencounterswithmusic
Instagram: @closeencounterswithmusic
Twitter: @CEWMusic

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC PRESENTS

“Pictures at an Exhibition”— A Gallery Stroll

Performed Live at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA

SATURDAY, MARCH 26, 4 PM

A work in ten movements by Modest Mussorgsky that was inspired by a visit to an art exhibition, “Pictures at an Exhibition” is a showpiece where only the most virtuosic pianists dare to tread! It is also a perfect point from which to explore the common language of music and art, which share not only terms such as “line, rhythm and color,” but also considerations of structure, narrative, counterpoint, etc. The program offers other “pictures in time”: Granados’ musical portraits from his opera Goyescas; Franz Liszt’s St. Frances walking on the waves; Debussy’s Sonate with its commedia dell’arte storyline; and the Hogarth-Stravinsky connection for the opera The Rake’s Progress. The final picture of Mussorgsky’s work is a majestic depiction of his friend Victor Hartmann’s sketch, “The Great Gate of Kiev.” Images will be projected to accompany the music.

Performers are Max Levinson, piano; Danielle Talamantes, soprano; and internationally acclaimed cellist and artistic director Yehuda Hanani.

Tickets, $52 (Orchestra and Mezzanine), $28 (Balcony) and $15 for students, are available through Close Encounters With Music. Virtual tickets are also available.

Complete Information on the season’s seven concerts can be found here

Close Encounters With Music:

“Innovative and captivating…a smart blend of classical, contemporary, and cutting-edge.”

“CEWM patrons have learned that sooner or later they’ll be blindsided by a performance so sublime it will defy explanation.”  —  The Berkshire Edge

ABOUT THE ARTISTS-

Pianist Max Levinson’s career was launched when he won first prize at the Guardian Dublin International Piano Competition, the first American to achieve this distinction. He was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and in 2005, the Andrew Wolf Award for his chamber music playing. The Boston Globe proclaimed: “The questioning, conviction, and feeling in his playing invariably remind us of the deep reasons why music is important to us, why we listen to it, why we care so much about it.” Levinson has performed as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, New World Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Oregon Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Utah Symphony, Boston Pops, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland among others. He has worked with such conductors as Robert Spano, Neemi Järvi, Uriel Segal, Joseph Swensen, Jeffrey Kahane and Alasdair Neale. Artistic Director of the San Juan Chamber Music Festival (Ouray, Colorado), he has appeared at major music festivals including Mostly Mozart, Santa Fe, Marlboro, Tanglewood, La Jolla, Bravo/Vail, Seattle, Killington, Vancouver, Cartagena, and Switzerland’s Davos Festival. Max Levinson garnered international accolades for his two recordings. Max Levinson, his debut recording, traces the musical lineage between Brahms, Schumann, Schönberg and Kirchner. American Record Guide declared Levinson’s second disc, Out of Doors: Piano Music of Béla Bartók “an important recording and a great one. The disc blew me out of my chair….Hearing performances as riveting as these produces a rare frisson; indeed, this is the most brilliant and exciting Bartók piano disc I have heard. On the basis of only two recordings, Mr. Levinson has created the myth of a pianist with everything.” He has experimented with internet broadcast, served as Artist-in-Residence at Harvard University’s Lowell House for four years, and has been featured on NPR’s “Performance Today” and “A Note to You.” He has also taught master classes at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Harvard, MIT, Brigham Young University, Rutgers, the University of Washington, UCLA, the Colburn School, and Boston University. Mr. Levinson is chair of the Piano department at the Boston Conservatory and is also a faculty member at the New England Conservatory.

“It’s not often that a fortunate operagoer witnesses the birth of a star!” critics hailed Danielle Talamantes’ recent role début as Violetta in La traviata. This season, Talamantes sings Mimì in La bohéme with Fairfax Symphony and returns to The Metropolitan Opera to sing Frasquita for their productions of Carmen. In addition, she will appear as a soloist in multiple classical masterworks including Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at Carnegie Hall, Verdi’s Requiem with the National Philharmonic, Fauré’s Requiem and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with Eugene Concert Choir, and in the National Philharmonic’s Bernstein Choral Celebration concert. In recent seasons, Talamantes performed the role of Marzelline in Beethoven’s Fidelio with the Princeton Festival; Mimì in La bohéme with the St. Petersburg (FL) Opera and Symphony of Northwest Arkansas; the title role of Susannah with Opera Roanoke; Anna in Nabucco and Frasquita in Carmen with The Metropolitan Opera; Violetta in La traviata with Finger Lakes Opera and Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at Cedar Rapids Opera Theater; a début at Spoleto Festival USA as Sergente in Veremonda. Additional concert works include “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman!” with Close Encounters With Music in Great Barrington and at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts; Mozart’s Requiem with Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, Cathedral Choral Society, and Fairfax Symphony; Brahms’ Requiem with National Philharmonic, Choralis and St. Mary’s College; Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas brasileiras No. 5, Bach’s Magnificat, and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with the National Philharmonic; Mozart’s Mass in C minor, Handel’s Laudate pueri dominum, and Charpentier’s Te Deum with The City Choir of Washington; Händel’s Messiah with Phoenix and La Jolla symphony orchestras, United States Naval Academy, National Philharmonic, The New Choral Society, and Austin Symphony & Chorus Austin; Poulenc’s Gloria with Arizona State University’s Symphony Orchestra; Verdi’s Requiem with Choral Artists of Sarasota and the Oratorio Society of VA; soprano soloist in Bob Chilcott’s Requiem at Alice Tully Hall; Dvořák’s Stabat Mater at North Carolina Master Chorale; Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with Manchester Symphony Orchestra; and recitals and masterclasses with El Paso Pro Musica, Washington & Lee University, James Madison University and Point Loma University. Her debut album, Canciones españolas, was recently released on the MSR Classics label and the album Heaven and Earth, A Duke Ellington Songbook has followed.

Named “one of the most polished performers of the post-Starker generation and a consistently expressive artist.” by The New York Times, Yehuda Hanani’s charismatic playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and reengagements across the globe. He has won wide international recognition as soloist, chamber musician and inspiring pedagogue. His concerto appearances have been with the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, San Antonio, New Orleans, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Irish National Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Jerusalem Symphony, Honolulu Symphony, Taipei and Seoul symphonies among many other orchestras, and he has toured with I Solisti de Zagreb, conducting from the cello. A frequent guest at Aspen, Bowdoin, Chautauqua, Yale at Norfolk, Great Lakes, Casals Prades, Finland Festival, Ottawa, Oslo, Round Top Institute, Manchester, and the Australia Chamber Music festivals, he has collaborated in performances with preeminent fellow musicians, including Leon Fleisher, Aaron Copland, Christoph Eschenbach, David Robertson, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Itzhak Perlman, Vadim Repin, Julian Rachlin, Dawn Upshaw, Yefim Bronfman, Eliot Fisk, the Tokyo, Vermeer, Muir, Escher, Ariel, Colorado, and Manhattan quartets. His recording of the monumental Alkan Cello Sonata received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination, and on CD and in live performances, he has given premières of works of Nikolai Miaskovsky, Lukas Foss, Leo Ornstein, Paul Schoenfield, Thea Musgrave, Joan Tower, Eduard Franck, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Tamar Muskal, Virgil Thomson, William Perry and Pulitzer Prize winners Bernard Rands and Zhou Long. In New York City, he has appeared as soloist at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully, and the Metropolitan Museum. Among the early designers and proponents of thematic programming, his engaging chamber music with commentary series, Close Encounters With Music, has captivated audiences from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Detroit, Calgary, Scottsdale, the Berkshires, and at the Frick Collection in New York City. A three-time recipient of the Martha Baird Rockefeller grant, Mr. Hanani’s studies were with Leonard Rose at Juilliard and with Pablo Casals. He has inspired scores of cellists as Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and previously served on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory. Artistic director of Berkshire High Peaks Festival, he presents master classes internationally at conservatories and for orchestras, including the Juilliard School, University of Indiana at Bloomington, New England Conservatory, McGill University, Paris Conservatoire, Berlin Hochschule für Music, Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School in London, Tokyo National University, Jerusalem Academy of Music, the Central Conservatories in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, and the New World Symphony in Miami. In recognition of his distinguished teaching, he was given the title of honorary professor of the Tianjin Conservatory, China. His objective is to instill a sense of wonder and adventure in young musicians, to lead them to technical mastery and bridge tradition with innovation. He now is a member of the faculty of the Mannes College of Music in New York City.

ABOUT CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC

Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Paul Schoenfield, Osvaldo Golijov, Thea Musgrave, Lera Auerbach, Jorge Martin, John Musto, among others—to create over 20 important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes pianists Max Levinson, Roman Rabinovich, and William Wolfram; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Cho-Liang Lin, Vadim Gluzman and clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein, Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Emily Marvosh and William Sharp; the Escher, Amernet, Muir, Manhattan, Dover, Avalon quartets, and Cuarteto Latinoamericano; and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs.

HOW TO REACH US

Close Encounters With Music

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