Berkshire High Peaks Music Festival – Music with Altitude!

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


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.

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