Close Encounters March 19 Concert Features Works of Reverence and Irreverence Representing the Illustrious Bach Family Tree Acronym Baroque String Band and Soloists James Austin Smith, Oboe and Yehuda Hanani, Cello, Works by Johann Sebastian, his Uncle, Sons, and Some Notable Imposters

Photograph of the Acronym String Band

(Great Barrington, MA) The Berkshires’ premiere chamber music organization, Close Encounters With Music, celebrates Johann Sebastian Bach and his progeny Saturday, March 19, 6 PM at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center with “J.S. Bach and Sons—Legitimate and Otherwise.” The Bach brood boasts an illustrious cluster of great musicians who act as a bridge into the Classical style. Family members represented include Bach’s uncle Heinrich and his sons Johann Christoph Friedrich, Wilhelm Friedemann, and Carl Philipp Emanuel.

Also appearing on the program is Johann Sebastian’s “illegitimate” son (the twenty-first of Johann’s twenty children!), P.D.Q. Bach (a.k.a. Peter Schickele), in a concerto for “Four Handed Viola” that combines musicological scholarship, the conventions of Baroque, and the antics of slapstick comedy.

Internationally renowned cellist and Artistic Director of CEWM, Yehuda Hanani, will perform early twentieth century composer Henri Casadesus’ Concerto in C Minor, originally ascribed to Johann Christian Bach before scholars confirmed that it was in fact only written in his style—the other “illegitimate” element on the program. Johann Sebastian’s heavenly Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C Minor, will come alive with solo performances by violinist Edwin Huizinga and oboist James Austin Smith, who dazzles audiences with his “bold, keen sound” (The New Yorker). ACRONYM, the 12-piece Baroque String Band will conclude with the timeless glory of the patriarch’s “Brandenburg Concerto” No. 3.

ACRONYM is distinguished by an ambitious mission to unearth and revive forgotten masterpieces of the Baroque era, often unheard since the 17th century. CEWM’s Yehuda Hanani says: “ACRONYM brings a youthful exuberance to ancient music, making it sound like it was written yesterday.” The ensemble’s director Kivie Cahn-Lipman is founding cellist of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), with which he performs regularly to international critical acclaim. He is also a gambist and lironist. Award-winning harpsichordist Gabriel Schuford joins the ensemble for historically informed performances infused with joyful insouciance.

“…The idiomatic performances and spacious recording by these young musicians are absolutely first-rate.”—Early Music America
“I find it hard to imagine better playing…”—Iowa Public Radio (Valentini CD featured on Best of 2015 List)

Close Encounters With Music continues to expand its original programming of classical, contemporary and cutting-edge music. The 2015-2016 season moves onward with celebration and discovery, featuring world-renowned musicians and extraordinary new faces. Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani has led the series since its founding, providing entertaining, erudite commentary that puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and enlighten the concert experience. Each concert is framed by an introduction before the music, and is followed by an AFTERGLOW reception with an informal “talk-back” and an opportunity to meet the musicians.

Tickets, $45 (Orchestra and Mezzanine) and $25 (Balcony), are available at
The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 413.528.0100. Visit our website at

Cellist Yehuda Hanani has performed with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Irish National Symphony and many others. He has been a guest at Aspen, Chautauqua, Marlboro, Yale at Norfolk, Round Top (TX), Blue Hill, Bowdoin, Great Lakes, Ottawa Festival and Finland Festival, among many others, and has collaborated with fellow musicians including Leon Fleisher, Aaron Copland, Christoph Eschenbach, David Robertson, Itzhak Perlman, Dawn Upshaw, Yefim Bronfman, Eliot Fisk, and the American and Tokyo quartets. In New York City, Yehuda Hanani has appeared as soloist at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully, The Frick, and the Metropolitan Museum’s Grace Rainey Rodger Auditorium. A prolific recording artist, his pioneering recording of the Alkan Cello Sonata received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination. As founder and artistic director of Close Encounters With Music, he has been at the forefront of presenting thematic concerts with commentary in cities across the U.S. He is professor of cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and artistic director of the Catskill High Peaks Festival. His broadcasts on Northwest Radio WAMC’s “Classical Music According to Yehuda” with Dr. Alan Chartock reach thousands of listeners weekly.

Formed in 2012 to create the first recording of the complete “Alphabet Sonatas” of Johann Pezel, ACRONYM is a 12-member string band distinguished by an ambitious program to discover and revive forgotten masterpieces of the Baroque era, including composers such as Alessandro Poglietti, Clemens Thieme, and Adam Drese, representatives of the Viennese and German composers of the period. A second recording of instrumental sonatas by Antonio Bertali was released in early 2014 to critical acclaim: Alex Ross selected it as a CD Pick, and Early Music America magazine wrote, “The idiomatic performances and spacious recording by these young musicians are absolutely first rate. This is a disc…belonging in everyone’s collection.” Upcoming projects include concert tours featuring works of Pezel and Bertali, as well as the first recordings and modern performances of music by Samuel Capricornus, Johann Rosenmüller, and others. ACRONYM released a third album, modern premieres of Viennese composer Giovanni Valentini’s instrumental music, in 2015. Gramophone UK lauded the album, “played with expertise, enthusiasm and an almost tactile sense of timbre.” ACRONYM further recorded two albums to be released early 2016. Quickly becoming recognized as unique to their field, ACRONYM are “vital and vibrant…”,”…irresistible” and “…exceptional.”

Praised for his “virtuosic” and “brilliant” performances (The New York Times), oboist James Austin Smith performs equal parts new and old music across the United States and around the world. Mr. Smith is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (Chamber Music Society Two), the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the Talea Ensemble, Cygnus and Decoda, and is a regular guest of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. He is a member of the faculty of the State University of New York at Purchase and of the Manhattan School of Music. Festival appearances have included Marlboro, Lucerne, Chamber Music Northwest, Schleswig-Holstein, OK Mozart, Schwetzingen and Spoleto USA. He has performed with the St. Lawrence and Orion string quartets and recorded for the Nonesuch, Bridge, Mode and Kairos labels.

J.S. Bach & Sons: Legitimate and Otherwise
Saturday, March 19, 6 PM
ACRONYM Baroque String Band
James Austin Smith, oboe; Yehuda Hanani, cello
Tickets: $45 (Orchestra and Mezzanine) and $25 (Balcony)


Grand Piano Quartets–Brahms and Dvořák
Saturday, October 24, 6 PM
Walter Ponce, piano; Ara Gregorian, violin
Xiao-Dong Wang, viola; Yehuda Hanani, cello

“Dually” Noted:  Music for Four Hands
Saturday, December 12, 6 PM
Soyeon Kate Lee and Ran Dank, piano

J.S. Bach & Sons:  Legitimate and Otherwise
Saturday, March 19, 6 PM
Acronym Baroque String Band
James Austin Smith, oboe; Yehuda Hanani, cello

“Fiddler OFF the Roof”
Sunday April 17, 3 PM
Michele Levin, piano; Paul Green, clarinet; Alex Richardson, tenor
Sarah McElravy, violin; Yehuda Hanani, cello

The Art of the String Quartet
Saturday, May 14, 6 PM
The Dover String Quartet

GALA: “Music That Shook the World!”
Saturday, June 11, 6 PM
Michael Chertock, piano; Yehonatan Berick, violin
Yehuda Hanani, cello; Special Guest Narrator, tba

Curator Ken Moore
Inside the Met’s Instrument Collection
Sunday, November 15, 2 PM | The Mount, Lenox, MA

Professor and Inventor Edgar Choueiri
Making Waves | Sounds of the Future
(New lifelike 3D audio system in picture-perfect fidelity)
Sunday, May 22, 2 PM | Basilica Hudson, Hudson, NY

Mid-Winter Fireside Concert 
“Some Enchanted Evening”
Saturday, February 20, 6 PM, | Ventfort Hall, Lenox, MA
Mischa Bouvier, baritone; Yegor Shevtsov, piano

Sunday, May 1, 12:30 PM | Blantyre, Lenox, MA