Performed Live at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA, Sunday, November 6 at 4 PM

Tamar Muskal’s twice-postponed work will receive its long-awaited world premiere, kicking off the new season with a musical adventure. In the words of the composer, “We live in a very challenging time—a time of war, sickness, climate disasters, and economic difficulties. One Earth, for a rapper/beatbox artist, tabla player, string quintet and a treble chorus, calls all people to positive action, to love, to beauty, and to anything that protects the planet and humanity. The piece is rich in sonorities, a fusion of different musical worlds, and contrasts between energetic rhythms, lyrical melodies and powerful rapping.” The program also features Schubert’s heavenly String Quintet in C Major—an early 19th Century call to humanity, beauty and truth.  Of Muskal’s music, the Chicago Tribune has written: “The ripples and shimmers that filled Muskal’s post-minimalist score were as evanescent as swirling, digitized visuals— dissolving into one another with kaleidoscopic beauty…high-tech music theater at its most inventive and fascinating.” 

“Tamar’s work embraces the universe and looks outward.  It’s all-encompassing, utopian, embracing.  Schubert plunges us into the depths of the inner and personal world, the heart and soul, its agony and sublime heights” is how artistic director Yehuda Hanani describes the two polarities of the program.  Joining him for the Schubert Quintet are the Borromeo Quartet.  Muskal’s One Earth calls for the 22-person Mount Holyoke College Chamber Singers, a string quintet, beatbox artist Christylez Bacon and tabla player Avirodh Sharma.  Tianhui Ng will conduct.

The series continues on December 11 with an all-Beethoven program – two piano trios that are almost orchestral in breadth, scope and brilliance.  Complete Information on the season’s seven concerts can be found at

November 6 musicians: Borromeo String Quartet; Yehuda Hanani, cello; Avirodh Sharma, tabla; Christylez Bacon, beatbox artist; Tianhui Ng, conductor; Rachel Feldman, choral director; Mount Holyoke College Chamber Singers

Tickets, $52 (Orchestra and Mezzanine), $28 (Balcony) and $15 for students, are available through Close Encounters With Music or the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center or by calling 413-528-0100. Subscriptions for the series of 7 concerts are $250 ($225 for seniors), a 35% savings!. Virtual subscriptions and individual tickets are also available.


Christylez Bacon (pronounced: chris-styles) is a GRAMMY® Nominated Progressive Hip-Hop artist and multi-instrumentalist from Southeast, Washington, DC. As a performer, he multi-tasks between various instruments including the West African djembe drum, acoustic guitar, and the human beat-box (oral percussion), all the while continuing the oral tradition of storytelling through his lyrics. In 2011, Mr. Bacon began a cross-cultural collaborative concert series in Washington, DC called the “Washington Sound Museum” (WSM), a monthly intimate celebration of music featuring guest artists from diverse musical genres with Christylez Bacon and his progressive hip-hop orchestra. Since WSM’s inception, Mr. Bacon has collaborated with artists from various cultural backgrounds, ranging from the Hindustani & Camatic music of India, the contemporary Arabic music of Egypt, and the music of Brazil.  With a mission of fostering cultural acceptance and unification through music, he constantly pushes the envelope – from performances at the National Cathedral, to becoming the first Hip-Hop artist to be featured at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival to composing and orchestrating an entire concert for a 12-piece orchestra commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Smithsonian Institute, or recording a Folk/Hip-Hop children’s album. He is the recipient of several honors awarded by the Washington Area Music Association including the 2013 Artist ofthe Year, and the Montgomery County Executive Award for Excellence in the Arts. He was honored as a 2012 “Library Superhero” by Friends of the Library, Montgomery County.

Sought after for both fresh interpretations of the classical music canon and their championing of works by 20th and 21st century composers, the Borromeo String Quartet has been hailed for “edge-of-the-seat performances,” by the Boston Globe, which called it “simply the best.” Inspiring audiences for more than 25 years, the Borromeo continues to be a pioneer in its use of technology and has the distinction of being the first string quartet to utilize laptop computers on the concert stage. Reading music this way helps push artistic boundaries, allowing players to perform solely from 4-part scores and composers’ manuscripts, a revealing and metamorphic experience which Borromeo members now teach to students around the world. As the New York Times noted, “The digital tide washing over society is lapping at the shores of classical music. The Borromeo players have embraced it in their daily musical lives like no other major chamber music group.” Moreover, the Quartet often leads discussions enhanced by projections of handwritten manuscripts, investigating with the audience the creative process of the composer. Passionate educators, The BSQ has been ensemble-in-residence at the New England Conservatory and Taos School of Music and enjoyed a relationship with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for over two decades. It is quartet-in-residence at the Heifetz International Music Institute, where first violinist Nicholas Kitchen is Artistic Director. The quartet has worked extensively with the Library of Congress (highlighting both its manuscripts and instrument collections) and has been in residence at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Kansas University, the San Francisco Conservatory, and Colorado State University. Their presentation of the cycle of Bartók String Quartets as well as the lecture “Bartok, Paths Not Taken,” give audiences a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hear a set of rediscovered alternate movements Béla Bartók drafted for his six Quartets. The Borromeo’s expansive repertoire includes the Shostakovich Cycle and those of Mendelssohn, Dvořák, Brahms, Schumann, Schoenberg, Janáček, Lera Auerbach, Tchaikovsky, and Gunther Schuller. Recent premieres are works written for them by Sebastian Currier and Aaron Jay Kernis, presented in recitals at Carnegie Hall and Shriver Concerts. The Borromeo has received numerous awards throughout its illustrious career, including Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Career Grant, Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award and the Young Concert Artists career award.

In addition to her role as visiting director of choral studies at Mount Holyoke College, conductor and mezzo-soprano Rachel Feldman also directs the choral ensembles at Connecticut College. Recent engagements include conducting Mount Holyoke choirs at Vespers, preparing William Walton’s “Belshazzar’s Feast,” and serving as the clinician for the Quinebaug Valley Middle School Music Festival. For two summers she has taught at Westminster Choir College’s High School Summer Vocal Institute, where she conducted the treble choir and taught music theory and history. Ms. Feldman recently earned her master’s degree in choral conducting from Westminster Choir College under the tutelage of Dr. Joe Miller, Dr. Amanda Quist, and Margaret Cusack. During the 2018-2019 season, she acted as graduate assistant conductor for the world-renowned Westminster Choir, assisting in the preparation of the choir’s performances and tours throughout China and Texas, ACDA’s national conference and Spoleto Festival USA. A Connecticut native, she began her musical training with the Elm City Girls’ Choir in New Haven and has since returned to the organization to conduct on tours to Canada and China. She received her bachelor’s at the University of Connecticut, studying conducting and, while there, assisted in conducting the Festival Chorus and the choir at Storrs Congregational Church. In addition to conducting, she remains active as a singer. She was a featured member of Westminster Choir, Westminster Symphonic Choir and Westminster Kantorei and currently performs with the Philadelphia Symphonic Choir, the professional choir for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Recent solo work includes Joby Talbot’s “Path of Miracles,” J.S. Bach Cantata 45, Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater,” Vivaldi’s “Gloria,” Haydn’s “Lord Nelson Mass,” and Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms.”

Cellist Yehuda Hanani is founder and artistic director of Close Encounters With Music. His engaging chamber music with commentary has captivated audiences from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Calgary, Scottsdale, the Berkshires, and at the Frick Collection in New York City. A three-time recipient of the Martha Baird Rockefeller grant and a nominee for Grand Prix du Disque for his pioneering recording of Alkan, he appears with orchestras and on the recital stage on five continents. Mr. Hanani is one of the illustrious cellists of today, has appeared with musical luminaries—Aaron Copland, Andre Kostelanetz, Dawn Upshaw, David Robertson, Itzhak Perlman, Leon Fleisher—since his career was launched; and is a prolific recording artist and an innovator in reshaping concert programs to include original, illuminating commentary. 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. Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music for three decades, he is on the faculty of Mannes College in New York City and directs the Berkshire High Peaks Festival each summer.

Undaunted by new forms or new frontiers,Tamar Muskal has written everything from pop songs to symphonies to a score for the historic silent film “La Venganza de Pancho Villa” (for string quartet and a Mexican band—a collaboration with the Library of Congress, about the Mexican revolution), a song cycle commissioned by ASCAP and music for a documentary film about finding a cure for blindness (narrated by Robert Redford), exemplifying the diverse material and platforms she uses. Her work “The Yellow Wind,” based on the novel by Israeli author David Grossman, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Ms. Muskal has been the recipient of many other awards from institutions such as ASCAP, Meet-the-Composer, the Academy of Arts and Letters, the Jerome Foundation, American Music Center, the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. Educated both in Israel and the United States, Ms. Muskal’s music harmonizes the unique cultural aspects of both places. Her music follows a counterpoint style, carefully structured, and with great attention for details. She earned her degrees in composition from the Jerusalem Academy for Music and Dance and Yale University. Her composition teachers included Mark Kopytman, Jacob Druckman, Martin Bresnick, Tania Leon and David Del Tredici. Recent and future commissions include a double concerto for saxophone and viola for the Williamsport Symphony, an orchestral piece for the Idyllwild Arts Academy, a song cycle for Jo Lawry, Sting’s backup singer commissioned by ASCAP for a string quartet, a piece for Lucy Shelton and the Colorado String Quartet on text by Hanoch Levin and a piece for bassoon and string quartet for Uzi Shalev of the Israeli Philharmonic for the International Double Reed Convention in New York. Ms. Muskal also focuses on music for theater. Recent works include “Angels in America” performed in Cincinnati, “The Labor of Life” and “The Seven Beggars” performed at La Mama Theater in New York, and “Cristabel” and “Trojan Women” performed in New Haven. Of her work “Mirrors,” John Von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune wrote: “The ripples and shimmers that filled Muskal’s post-minimalist score were as evanescent as swirling, digitized visuals – dissolving into one another with kaleidoscopic beauty. Mirrors is high-tech music theater at its most inventive and fascinating.” Tamar Muskal has written two works as part of the Close Encounters With Music Commissioning Program, one marking the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, and the second, “One Earth,” receiving its world premiere this season.

Tianhui Ng is Music Director of the Pioneer Valley Symphony, Boston Opera Collaborative and the Victory Players and White Snake Projects. In addition, he is Director of Orchestral Studies at Mount Holyoke College. He has conducted orchestras around the world including the Savaria Symphony Orchestra (Hungary), Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra (Czech Republic), Dartington Festival Orchestra (UK), Orchestra of the Royal Opera of Wallonie (Belgium), and the Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra (USA). Equally at home in the realm of choral music, he has conducted the Stuttgart Chamber Choir (Germany), Carnegie Hall Festival Chorus (USA), Oregon Bach Festival Chorus (USA), Yale Schola Cantorum (USA), and the Young Person’s Chorus of New York (USA). He has collaborated with internationally renowned artists such as Dashon Burton, Tyler Duncan, Marcus Eiche, Jamie-Rose Guarrine, Ayano Kataoka, Ilya Polataev, Astrid Schween, Sara Davis Buechner, Nicholas Phan, and James Taylor. Bringing new music to fresh audiences, he has premiered works by Pulitzer and Rome Prize winners Jay Kernis, Robert Kyr, David Sanford, and Joan Tower. Tian Ng’s irrepressible musical spirit first expressed itself when he conducted a choir of kindergarten children in his native Singapore at the age of five. A pianist, singer and trombonist, he studied composition and Early Music at the University of Birmingham (UK) where he discovered his love for Stravinsky and contemporary music. Returning home, he helped found one of the first contemporary music ensembles in the country, and was soon composing for animation, dance, film, chorus, and orchestra; and following his affinity for inter-disciplinary work, created the groundbreaking site-specific community-based arts festival, NOMAD, with which he has won awards from the Singapore National Arts Council. Ng Tian Hui continued his education at the Yale School of Music where he fed his passion for the masterworks of the choral orchestral repertoire, assisting such renowned interpreters as Nicholas McGegan, Masaaki Suzuki, Dale Warland, Simon Carrington, Marguerite Brooks and Jeffrey Douma. His works have been heard in diverse settings such as the Hong Kong Film Festival, Animation World Magazine (USA), and Apsara Asia Dance (Singapore).

Avirodh Sharma is considered one of today’s leading exponents of the tabla, carrying on the tradition of percussion rhythm that originated on the Indian Subcontinent. Trinidadian born, Mr. Sharma was trained by his father, Dr. Ravideen Ramsamooj, managing director of the East Indian Music Academy who, together with his mother, Bharati Ramsamooj, have produced over 20,000 students in New York City. As a resident teacher at the Academy for over 24 years, Sharma has trained tabla players nationwide. A multifaceted artist, he is also a composer and producer, with work featured in films, documentaries, fashion shows, on radio and in television commercials. He has been featured in The New York Times, NY Daily News, TV Asia, STARZ NETWORK, Zee TV and NPR Radio. Sharma has worked with Grammy-winning artists including Shakti and Masters of Percussion, Vikku Vinayakram, Dhrubesh Regmi and Sukarma, Suresh Wadhkar, and many more. He has also collaborated with Asian Underground musician Karsh Kale, fiddler Patrick Mangan, and David Bowie drummer Sterling Campbell. In 2015, his debut recording as a tabla soloist was nominated for the 14th Independent Music Awards “Best World Beat Album.” He was recently commissioned by Parsons Dance Company to compose and perform Microburst in NYC’s Joyce Theatre, receiving critical acclaim. In the realm of theater, he composed and performed for Dishwasher Dreams which was developed at the Joseph Papp Public Theater. His performances have captivated audiences in Italy, Switzerland, Nepal, India, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and the U. S. This past January, he performed at Kumbh Mela, in India, the largest religious festival in the world with millions in attendance. He has appeared recently at the international festivals Artisti in Piazza (Italy), and Taj Mahotsav (Taj Mahal, India).


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.


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