Close Encounters with Music Presents Guitarist Extraordinaire Eliot Fisk, Joined by Soprano Jennifer Zetlan and Cellist Yehuda Hanani in a World Premiere by Robert Beaser

Image of Yahuda Hanani Playing the Cello

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. – Eliot Fisk demonstrates the versatility and appeal of the classical guitar in a Close Encounters With Music concert on Saturday, March 23 at 6 p.m. at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, 14 Castle St. The diverse program, titled “Old, New, Borrowed and Blues,” features J.S. Bach, tango, Schubert lieder, American folk music, improvisations and the world premiere of a commissioned work by Grammy Award-nominated composer Robert Beaser.

Fisk is known worldwide for his adventurous repertoire and willingness to take music into unusual venues, such as schools, senior centers and even logging camps and prisons. Described by his mentor, guitar legend Andrés Segovia, as “at the top line of our artistic world,” Fisk has transformed the repertoire of the classical guitar through his ground-breaking transcriptions, including works by Bach, Scarlatti, Haydn, Mozart and Paganini.

A best-selling recording artist, Eliot Fisk has had numerous works dedicated to him and has collaborated with other musicians-including guitarist Angel Romero, virtuoso clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, and jazz guitar great Bill Frisell-in classical, flamenco, jazz and world-music styles. He is founder and director of Boston Guitar Fest, an annual event co-sponsored by Northeastern University and the New England Conservatory, where he is a faculty member.

To premiere the new Beaser work, “Spring Songs,” Fisk will be joined by soprano Jennifer Zetlan, making her Berkshire debut, and acclaimed cellist Yehuda Hanani, founder and artistic director of Close Encounters. Zetlan has performed on the stages of the New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, returning to the Met as Xenia in a new production of Boris Godunov, broadcast worldwide as part of the Metropolitan Opera’s “LIVE! in HD” series.

“Spring Songs” includes two songs in a projected four-song set. Says Fisk of the new work: “The combination of a bass instrument (e.g., cello) and chordal instrument (such as guitar) has deep roots in the baroque era, where such an ensemble was the core of the basso continuo. It will be fascinating to see how Beaser translates this ancient precedent into 21st-century terms.”

The program also includes French folk songs by Matyas Seiber, folk songs by Edward Benjamin Britten and music by Franz Schubert, Isaac Albeniz, Gabriel Fauré, Enrique Granados, Vittorio Monti and others.

Ticket Information for “An Evening with Eliot Fisk: Old, New, Borrowed and Blues”
Tickets, $42 (orchestra and mezzanine) and $32 (balcony), are available at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, by calling 413.528.0100, or online at or

Performances are supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The commission of “Spring Songs” is funded by a generous grant from the Louis and Lena Minkoff Foundation.

For more information about Close Encounters with Music and its 2012–2013 concert schedule, visit

Close Encounters With Music (CEWM) 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, Kenji Bunch, and John Musto, 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 and Jeffrey Swann; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Yehonatan Berick, Vadim Gluzman and Toby Appel; harpsichordist Lionel Party; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein, Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Amy Burton, Jennifer Aylmer, Robert White, Lucille Beer 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 concerts are broadcast on WMHT-FM, and weekly broadcasts of “Classical Music According to Yehuda” are broadcast on WAMC Northeast Radio and at

Upcoming Close Encounters with Music Concerts

April 20 Grand Piano Trios I: Schubert & Schoenfield

May 18 Grand Piano II: Mozart, Beethoven and Ravel

June 8 Nordic Lights: Grieg Revival