Close Encounters with Music Opens 22nd Season with its Signature Mix of Innovative Programs – Paul Schoenfield World Premier October 19; Celebrity Talks, Film-In-Progress, Fireside Concert; Collaborations, Celebrations


Parade of Violin and Piano Virtuosos, Stars of Opera and the Chamber Music World in Concert at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington and Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, Fall, Winter, Spring 2013-2014

Historic Met Costumes Presented at The Mount in Lenox and Verdi Bicentennial Marked at the Lenox Club in “Conversations With….” Series

(Great Barrington, MA…) Going into its 22nd year of presenting outstanding chamber music with lively commentary, the Berkshire’s premier chamber music organization, Close Encounters With Music, continues to expand its original programming of classical, contemporary and cutting-edge music. For the 2013-2014 season, CEWM features world-renowned musicians, including six leading violin virtuosos—Vadim Gluzman, Yehonatan Berick, Erin Keefe, Itamar Golan, Miriam Fried, and Joana Genova, together with their legendary instruments—along with outstanding pianists, vocalists, and clarinetist extraordinaire Alexander Fiterstein. Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor makes her Berkshire debut as does the Linden String Quartet; and CEWM introduces a Gypsy cimbalom player in a program devoted to Hungarian music. 2013 marks an important birthday for Giuseppe Verdi, which is celebrated with a special program and film on his legacy—“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Verdi”—one of two in the Conversations With… series.

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.

(For Calendar listings, see below.)
The season opens at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on Saturday, October 19, 6 PM with a program featuring works by Beethoven, Brahms, and a world premiere by eminent American composer Paul Schoenfield. The heavenly Brahms Piano Quartet Opus 26 is as close to symphonic scale as you get in chamber music. With its drama and gypsy vigor, it delivers an enthralling range of emotions. Beethoven’s Trio in B-Flat Major spins out variations on a popular theme, setting the stage for the newly-penned piece by Schoenfield, which incorporates the same theme. Featuring violinist Miriam Fried, the evening provides enduring classics with a contemporary twist.

“When’s the last time that a piece of music made you laugh out loud…? He gets an “A” for wit in my grade book… This is some of the most life-affirming new music that I’ve heard in quite some time. It’s not all cheerful…but it does support the hypothesis that our lives are nothing more than a cosmic Keystone Kops film that has pie-fights, head-clubbing, and it stimulates the comforting thought that all of us eventually are going… down?… up?, … wherever we’re going, together. –Classical Net

“Anatomy of a Melody—Brahms, Beethoven and Schoenfield”
Renana Gutman, piano; Miriam Fried, violin; Paul Biss, viola; Yehuda Hanani, cello

On Saturday, December 21 at 6 PM, CEWM presents An Evening With Vadim Gluzman and Angela Yoffe at the Mahaiwe. In technique and sensibility, Gluzman harkens back to the Golden Age of violinists of the 19th and 20th centuries, while demonstrating the passion and energy of the 21st century. He brings his “ex-Leopold Auer” Strad to a recital with his wife, pianist Angela Yoffee. A dazzling holiday program featuring the music of Mozart, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

“Gluzman’s sensational performance galvanized everyone around him.” –The London Telegraph

“The Miraculous Violin: An Evening with Vadim Gluzman and Angela Yoffe”
Vadim Gluzman, violin; Angela Yoffe, piano

On Saturday, March 22 at 6 PM the award-winning Linden String Quartet takes the Mahaiwe by storm in Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence, a musical remembrance of his visit to Italy to recover from a disastrous marriage. The young energetic Linden also perform Tchaikovsky’s Andante Cantabile and Brahms’ dramatic and turbulent quartet Opus 51 No. 1, which he wrote, in his own words, “hearing the footsteps of Beethoven” behind him, the first survivor after twenty destroyed quartets.

“Polished, radiant and incisive…” – The Strad

“Linden String Quartet”
Sarah McElravy, violin; Catherine Cosbey, violin, Eric Wong, viola; Felix Umansky, cello
with Pierre-Henri Xuereb, viola; Yehuda Hanani, cello

On Sunday, April 27 at 3 PM at The Mahaiwe, the stage is set for bona fide Hungarian sounds – from the cimbalom, the national folk instrument, to the sophistication of Liszt’s fiery Rhapsody, and Brahm’s majestic Piano Trio No.2 with Magyar themes. Bartok’s 1938 Contrast for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano, commissioned by jazz legend Benny Goodman, is an amalgam of Hungarian folk music combined with Romanian dance melodies. The “contrasts” include the tone color of the three instruments, different musical idioms and jazz and classical modes. An authentic Roma player adds a dash of paprikash!

“The clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein seems to be capable of anything a composer could ask.” – Gramophone Magazine UK

“The sonatas came bounding to life in vital interpretations rich in imaginative detail and virile strength. Mr. Hanani was rightly rewarded with cheers from the audience.”—New York Times

“In this era of the cello, Hanani is among the best. His Bach was absorbing, imaginative, beautiful in all respects.”—San Francisco Chronicle

Lydia Artymiw is a compelling musical personality with the unusual ability to reach out and touch her listeners.—New York Times

Erin Keefe, violin; Alexander Fiterstein, clarinet; Lydia Artymiw, piano; Yehuda Hanani, cello; Cosmo Gorcsi, cimbalom

The sounds of an all-Beethoven program fill The Mahaiwe Saturday, May 17, 6PM, following his pathway from disciple of Haydn, from whom he inherited his audacity and humor, to prophet and hero of the Romantic Movement. His music stands as a glorious bridge between two eras—classical and romantic—and the selected works cover a good distance of this journey. In the Cello/Piano Sonata No.2, he is a young artist working within the forms of his day. The rare String Quintet Opus 29 points the way to his middle period. The Archduke Trio represents the pinnacle of his writing in that genre.

“Berick’s warm, passionate and gypsy-like tone quality suited the Brahms, as it moved through sections rhapsodic, wistful and plaintive, searching and unpredictable.”—El Paso Times

“Brilliant…A dashing virtuoso….Spectacular playing from Jeffrey Swann”…—New York Times

“It was (Joan Tower Concerto) superbly played by Yehuda Hanani” –Boston Globe

“Beethoven and the Dawn of Romanticism”
Yehonatan Berick and Joana Genova, violin; Amadi Azikiwe and Ariel Rudiakov, viola; Jeffery Swann, piano; Yehuda Hanani, cello

The season concludes on Saturday, June 14 at Tanglewood at 6 PM a star-studded ensemble of musicians and one of the most beloved figures in classical music. Grammy Award winning mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor makes her Berkshire debut in Antonin Dvořák—A Bohemian Idyll, a program devoted to Dvořák, whose music almost by definition glows with lyricism and melodiousness. Representative works include the glorious Piano Quintet and Dumky Trio; and his Biblical Song, Gypsy Songs, and selections from the opera Rusalka, reflect another aspect of his output. Avery Fisher/Moscow Violin Competition laureate Itamar Zorman and Rubenstein Piano Competition laureate Roman Rabinovich join cellist Yehuda Hanani for a grand finale performance.

Diva Kelley O’Connor “has the potential to be one of the great singers of our time… managed to be at once seductive and haunting…”
The Denver Post.

Itamar Zorman’s….splendid playing conveyed precisely the right mix of tenderness, agitation and spiritual succor. –New York Times

“Native Israeli cellist Yehuda Hanani…studied with Leonard Rose at Juilliard and with Pablo Casals. It should come as no surprise then that he possesses Rose’s tonal amplitude and Casals’s intellectual discipline, breathtaking technique and limpid style….Commanding musicianship.” – Fanfare Magazine (January/February 2012)

“Antonin Dvořák —A Bohemian Idyll”
Kelly O’Connor, mezzo-soprano; Itamar Zorman, violin; Roman Rabinovich, piano; Yehuda Hanani, cello
In the Close Encounters With Music tradition, each performance is followed by an AFTERGLOW reception, with hors d’oeuvres and wine provided by local restaurants.

For Subscribers Only: Mid-Winter Fireside Concert
An exclusive event, the Midwinter Fireside Concert, for season subscribers, Saturday, February 22, 6 PM at Ventfort Hall in Lenox:
“An Evening of Song—Surveying the Centuries”
with baritone Mischa Bouvier and pianist Yegor Shevtsov.

Close Encounters With Music continues its listen and talk series, Conversations with…intimate and stimulating afternoons of music, literature and exchanges of ideas with notable performers, critics, authors, and cultural personages. On Saturday, November 10, 4PM, The Mount, Lenox., Close Encounters With Music and Edith Wharton’s The Mount present “Footlights at the Met – A Peek Behind the Curtain,” featuring international costume designer Charles Caine, who will offer a “behind-the-scenes” look at the Met and relate his experience with Maria Callas, Beverley Sills, Renata Scotto, and more. The presentation features costumes and memorabilia of historic theatrical fashions.

On Sunday, April 6, 3PM at The Lenox Club in Lenox, Close Encounters With Music presents author, architect and film-maker August Ventura, whose extensive writing on Verdi focuses on the relationship Verdi’s hometown of Parma maintains with the maestro’s legacy. The talk and film sequences (Ventura has been producing and directing an independent, feature-length documentary on Verdi entitled “27”) capture his political and cultural relevance, shedding light on how the operas promoted the notion of a unified Italy and help define her national character.

Close Encounters on the Radio/Podcast
Close Encounters With Music concerts are broadcast on WMHT-FM, and audiences are encouraged to tune into the new weekly broadcasts of “Classical Music According to Yehuda” on WAMC Northeast Radio or visit

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 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—Lera Auerbach, Robert Beaser, Kenji Bunch, Osvaldo Golijov, John Musto, and Paul Schoenfield among others—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, Walter Ponce, Lydia Artymiw and Jeffrey Swann; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Yehonatan Berick, Vadim Gluzman and Erin Keefe; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein, Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Amy Burton, Jennifer Aylmer, Robert White, Lucille Beer and William Sharp; the Vermeer, Amernet, Muir, Manahattan, Avalon, Hugo Wolf quartets, and Cuarteto Latinamericano; 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, performances took place at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA; and the Catskill High Peaks Festival continued 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.

Tickets, $45 (Orchestra and Mezzanine) and $25 (Balcony), are available at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 413.528.0100. Subscriptions are $225 ($195 for seniors) for a series of 6 series concerts PLUS one subscriber-only concert. Visit our website at

Note: Tickets for June 14 concert at Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall can be purchased through CEWM only.


Anatomy of a Melody—Beethoven, Brahms and Schoenfield, Saturday, October 19, 6PM

The Miraculous Violin: An Evening with Vadim Gluzman & Angela Yoffe, Saturday, December 21, 6PM

Linden String Quartet, Saturday, March 22, 6PM

Magyar! Sunday, April 27, 3PM

Beethoven and the Dawn of Romanticism, Saturday, May 17, 6PM

These five performances are at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, MA.
A reception with light refreshments follows each concert.

Conversations With…
“Footlights at the Met—A Peek Behind the Curtain” at the Mount is on Sunday, November 10. $15 per person includes light refreshments.

“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Verdi,” at the Lenox Club is at the Lenox Club on Sunday, April 6 at 3 PM. $15 per person includes light refreshments.

Antonin Dvořák —A Bohemian Idyll concert takes place Saturday, June 14, 6PM, at Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, Lenox, MA. Tickets: $50 Orchestra and $40 Balconies.