Berkshire High Peaks Festival Open to Public

Performances, Talks, Master Classes and Gifted Musicians on the Cusp of Careers: Events Are FREE and Open to the Public, July 20 – 31

Berkshire High Peaks Festival offers its 15th annual season in a new Berkshire location: the bucolic campus of Bard College at Simon’s Rock in the heart of Great Barrington. At the core of the festival are over 40 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. For audiences and listeners, High Peaks offers wall-to-wall performances as participants—strings, pianists, vocalists and wind players—showcase their talent at the Kellogg Music Center, often alongside their mentors.

Over 650 young musicians have been inspired by the High Peaks program, many on full or partial scholarships.

The ten-day festival, directed by internationally acclaimed cellist Yehuda Hanani, will continue to make its offerings of “Moonlight Sonatas” concerts, 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 Thursday July 25, and a 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 Ida Bieler, renowned pedagogue and first woman concertmaster of a European orchestra; Metropolitan Opera soprano Danielle Talamantes 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; violist Anthony Devroye of the Avalon String Quartet, Diego Fainguersch, first cellist of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic, and Yehuda Hanani, formerly Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory, faculty member at the Peabody Institute, and currently on the faculty of Mannes College in New York City.

“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 the Kellogg Music Center of Simon’s Rock, performances take place at Chesterwood in Stockbridge and in Tannersville. 

The following are open to the public:

Sunday, July 21

1:30 PM – Master Class Gila Goldstein (Longy School of Music), piano

Monday, July 22

1:30 PM – Opera Talk – Jay Lesenger (Opera Director / Conductor)

3:30 PM – Master Class Ida Bieler (NYU, North Carolina School of the Arts), violin

7:30 PM – Moonlight Sonatas (High Peaks Residents Perform)

Tuesday, July 23

1:30 PM – Talk (“All About Rhythm”)– Arti Dixson (Ahmad Jamal ensemble percussionist, author, clinician)

3:30 PM – Master Class – Danielle Talamantes (Metropolitan Opera) and Kerry Wilkerson (George Mason Univ.), vocalists

7:30 PM – Moonlight Sonatas (High Peaks Residents Perform)

Wednesday, July 24

1:30 PM – Master Class – Diego Fainguersch (Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Institute of Art at the Teatro Colon), cello

Thursday, July 25

10:30 AM – Master Class Yehuda Hanani (Mannes College), cello

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

Friday, July 26

10:30 AM – Master Class Alexander Shtarkman (Peabody Conservatory), piano

4:00 PM – Music from High Peaks in Tannersville, NY

Saturday, July 27

10:30 AM – Master Class Peter Zazofsky (Boston Univ.), violin

7:00 PM – Salon – Performance and reception at private home

Sunday, July 28

2:30 PM – Music from High Peaks – Chesterwood, Stockbridge, MA ($20/$15 for members)

7:30 PM – Moonlight Sonatas (High Peaks Residents Perform)

Monday, July 29

10:30 AM — Master Class Anthony Devroye (Avalon Quartet), viola

1:30 PM – Talk – “Meet the Composer” – Seth Grosshandler and Tamar Muskal

Tuesday, July 30

7:30 PM — Moonlight Sonatas — Farewell Concert (High Peaks Residents Perform)

Learn more about Berkshire High Peaks Festival. We have a $20,000 Matching Gift Challenge to support he next generation of world class musicians. Donations accepted until July 2.


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 Jeffrey Zeigler. Berkshire High Peaks concerts have taken place at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY; the Norman Rockwell Museum and Chesterwood in Stockbridge,MA; Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill, NY; Basilica Hudson; 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.

Alumni have gone on to careers in conducting, teaching, and arts administration.  They are members of chamber music ensembles, orchestras and perform as soloists. Over 650 young musicians have been inspired by the High Peaks program, many on full or partial scholarships.

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 the faculty of Mannes School in New York City.