Close Encounters’ “Nordic Lights: Grieg Revival”


LENOX, Mass. – Fjords, forests and fairy tales will be conjured up in an evening of music and readings, Saturday, June 8, at 6 PM at Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall in Lenox, Mass. “Nordic Lights: Grieg Revival,” the final Close Encounters with Music concert of the 2012–2013 season, brings to the fore the national composer of Norway, Edvard Grieg, and two of his contemporaries, German composer Johannes Brahms and Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.

Special guest narrator Tina Packer, founder and former artistic director of Shakespeare & Company, will deliver readings from Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt,” the most widely performed Norwegian play, and “Doll’s House,” which roiled Victorian-era Europe with its frankness and early feminism. “Peer Gynt,” inspired by a fairy tale, blends poetry, social satire and surrealism. Ms. Packer will have just completed her much-lauded appearance on Broadway in “Women of Will,” examining the roles of women in Shakespeare.

Violinist Ara Gregorian, known as one of the most versatile musicians of his generation, will perform Grieg’s Violin Sonata No. 3. The program for this gala event also includes a sampling of his superb piano works performed by internationally acclaimed pianist Adam Neiman and Brahms’ majestic Trio in B Major Opus 8 and. The evening will also feature baritone Mischa Bouvier, performing Grieg’s lush songs, and cellist Yehuda Hanani, founder and artistic director of Close Encounters with Music.

“The spirit of Northern Lights, the giddiness and lightheadedness of perpetual sunlight after the seemingly eternal winter will be reflected in the joyfulness of the evening,” promises Hanani. “It’s the same sensibility as Ingmar Bergman at his sunniest—the wild strawberries, the trolls, imps, elves, witches, and the symbolism of Peer Gynt’s Solweg, true love at the end of the journey.”

“Nordic Lights: Grieg Revival” is scheduled for Saturday, June 8, 6 PM at Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood (Lenox, MA). Tickets for this extraordinary concert are $40 and $50. A limited number of Preferred Patron seating and Gala Reception ticket are available at $150. For more information or to order, visit or call (800) 843-0778.

Artistic director Yehuda Hanani describes how he developed the theme for this performance:

I became very excited about presenting the music of Edvard Grieg and linking it to his friends and colleagues, other giants of the day — Brahms and Ibsen. As we know, artists often inspire and stimulate one another, whether at the Parisian Cafe Les Deux Magots, where Sartre, Hemingway, and Picasso traded ideas, or some other rendezvous of the literary and intellectual élite….There is a famous lunch that took place in Leipzig in 1887 on New Year’s Day at the home of Arthur Brodsky, one of the most famous European violinists. Brodsky had been rehearsing the Brahms Trio opus 100 with Brahms himself and had invited Eduard Grieg, who was in town, to visit. Well, in walked Tchaikovsky, and the rest is music history: Tchaikovsky and Brahms got to meet, Grieg more or less had to referee (Tchaikovsky never understood or liked Brahms’s music), and Arthur Brodsky agreed to premiere the magnificent Grieg Sonata No. 3 that violinist Ara Gregorian is going to play for us at Ozawa Hall on June 8.

We’ll also be playing a Brahms Trio — not the one that didn’t please Tchaikovsky, but the B Major Trio Opus 8. Adam Neiman, who is one of my favorite pianists, will present a panorama of Grieg’s folkloric and beautiful piano works; the sensational singer Mischa Bouvier will sing both Brahms and Grieg songs, and, on top of that, Tina Packer, who is winning all kinds of critical accolades with her current “Women of Will” show on Broadway, will read from Henrik Ibsen. Ibsen is evidently second only to Shakespeare in popularity, and Tina will provide illumination on the very fruitful artistic and personal friendship between Grieg and Ibsen. The play Peer Gynt inspired Grieg to write some of his most tuneful music, and Doll’s House, with its frank examination of the battle of the sexes, completely roiled Europe, and still is psychologically compelling.

So it will be an evening of great artistic collaborations — historic as well as new.


Mischa Bouvier made his professional musical theater debut in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel” with the Boston Pops, and since then has performed numerous notable opera and musical theater roles, including Usher in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Trial By Jury,” Sergeant of Police in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance,” Moneybags Billy in Kurt Weill’s “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny” at Tanglewood and Malatesta in Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale.” His artistic collaborators include Sting, on “Songs from the Labyrinth,” Guillermo Figueroa and the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, the Mark Morris Dance Group, the American Handel Society and many others.

Ara Gregorian made his New York recital debut in 1996 at Carnegie Hall, and his debut as a soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1997. Since then, he has performed in cities throughout the world, and is also founder and artistic director of the Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival in Greenville, North Carolina, which recently celebrated its 12th anniversary season. He has appeared at festivals worldwide and performed extensively as a member of numerous chamber music ensembles, including the Daedalus Quartet, Concertante and the Arcadian Trio.

Yehuda Hanani is internationally renowned for performances 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, and Grand Canyon festivals, among many others, and has collaborated with fellow musicians including Leon Fleisher, Aaron Copland, Christoph Eschenbach, David Robertson, Itzhak Perlman, Dawn Upshaw, Yefim Bronfman, and the Emerson and Manhattan quartets. In New York City, Yehuda Hanani has appeared as soloist at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully, and the Metropolitan Museum’s Grace Rainey Rodger Auditorium. His recording of the Alkan Cello Sonata received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination.

Adam Neiman has performed in most of the major cities and concert halls throughout the United States and Canada. His European solo engagements have brought him to Italy, France, Germany and Japan, where he made an eight-city tour culminating in his debut at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. He has collaborated with many of the world’s celebrated conductors, including Jiri Belohlavek, Giancarlo Guerrero, Theodor Gushlbauer, Carlos Kalmer, Uros Lajovic, Yoël Levi, Andrew Litton, Rossen Milanov, Heichiro Ohyama, Peter Oundjian, Leonard Slatkin and Emmanuel Villaume.

Tina Packer is one of the country’s foremost experts on Shakespeare and theater arts, and has directed more Shakespeare productions than any other woman in the world. She is the founder and artistic director of Shakespeare & Company, based in Lenox, Mass., one of the largest and most critically acclaimed Shakespeare festivals in North America. Before founding Shakespeare & Company in 1978, Packer trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, was an associate artist with the Royal Shakespeare Company and performed in the West End and in more than 20 productions for BBC and ITV television. She is the subject of Helen Epstein’s biography “The Companies She Keeps,” and coauthor of “Power Plays: Shakespeare’s Lessons in Leadership and Management.”

Berkshire-based 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, Lera Auerbach, Jorge Martin, John Musto, and Robert Beaser—to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes pianists James Tocco, Adam Neiman, Lydia Arytmiw, and Walter Ponce; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Yehonatan Berick, Vadim Gluzman and Erin Keefe; harpsichordist Lionel Party; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein, Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Amy Burton, Jennifer Aylmer, Jennifer Zetlan, and William Sharp; the Vermeer, Amernet, Muir, Manhattan, Avalon, Hugo Wolf 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. Close Encounters With Music programs have been presented in cities across the U.S. and Canada—Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Omaha, Cincinnati, Calgary, Detroit, at the Frick Collection and Merkin Hall in New York City, at Tanglewood and in Great Barrington, MA, as well as in Scottsdale, AZ. This summer, CEWM performances begin at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA; and the Catskill High Peaks Festival continues the educational mission of Close Encounters With Music with 40 international students in residence in the Great Northern Catskills in an immersive course of study and performance.

For more information about Close Encounters with Music and its concert schedule, visit