High Peaks Music Festival Brings Classical Hollywood to the Great Northern Catskills with Distinguished Artists and International Students “From Berlin to America” In Music, Literature and Film”

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(Hunter, NY) Between August 15 and 25, the Catskill Mountain Foundation, the premier multi-arts center in the Northern Catskills, will host its third Catskill High Peaks Festival: Music with Altitude!” a ten-day chamber music festival offering an exciting combination of concerts, literary lectures, films and master classes open to the public and led by distinguished faculty artists with talented young musicians from around the world. Serving as backdrop for the High Peaks Festival are the magically beautiful summer landscapes of the Northern Catskill Mountains, drawing musicians, listeners and culture lovers alike to visit a destination where artists and musicians have gathered for over a hundred years. For those who love movies and music this may be just the ticket. Festival events will take place at multiple venues throughout the scenic and historic New York mountaintop towns of Hunter, Tannersville and Windham.

This year’s theme is Classical Hollywood, tracing the cross-influences between the concert stage, the Silver Screen, cabaret, and the jazz club and the composers who bridged these worlds. Always designed to give pleasure and emotional catharsis, film scores arose from the world of opera and classical music and were written by some of its most heralded composers (Saint-Saëns, Jacques Ibert, Prokofiev, Kurt Weill, Bernstein).

The ten-day long festival is a collaboration with Close Encounters With Music and celebrated cellist Yehuda Hanani, Artistic Director, who has again gathered for this summer an exciting line-up of world-class musicians. Two major concerts bookend the festival: The first, Classical Hollywood: Cinematic Piano, is scheduled for Sunday, August 19, 2pm at the Doctorow Performing Arts Center on 23A Main Street in Hunter, and the second, Fascinatin’ Rhythm, takes place on Saturday August 25, 8pm at the newly restored Orpheum Performing Arts Center in Tannersville on Route 23A. Festival artists include pianists Michael Chertock and Dianna Anderson; violinist Stefan Milenkovich; cellist Erik Anderson; mezzo-soprano Jennifer Rivera; accordionist Bill Schimmel; percussionist Arti Dixson; and bassist James Cammack as well as Yehuda Hanani. Each concert will be prefaced by a Prelude Performance Showcase, introducing international festival students who are participating in the music residency.

Placing a Hollywood/Broadway scrim over the concert stage, “Classical Hollywood: Cinematic Piano” on August 19 includes immortal songs by Bernstein, Gershwin, and Weill, original arrangements of romantic music from Casablanca, Summer of ’42 by Michael Chertock, pianist of the Cincinnati Pops; and music by Erick Wolfgang Korngold, Tan Dun, and William Bolcom. The centerpiece of the program is Paul Schoenfield’s Café Music, irreverent, caffeine-fuelled and pictorial music par excellence, after which everyone rides off into the sunset with Lukas Foss’s cello/piano Capriccio, a rollicking ode to the cowboy and the Golden Age of Hollywood—all presented in vivid musical Technicolor, of course.

“Fascinatin’ Rhythm,” August 25, offers up a jazz-inflected evening, with plenty of rhythm and a rich stew of influences! The program includes Chick Corea’s jazzy, flamenco-inspired La Fiesta! performed by virtuoso accordionist Bill Schimmel, one of the principal architects of the tango revival in America; Astor Piazzolla’s Grand Tango; Suite for Cello and Jazz Trio, the effervescent jazz-classical fusion ensemble work by Claude Bolling, composer of Borsolino and other scores plus works by Ives, Ravel and the brilliant Gao Ping. This unusual evening of fusion also features double bass James Cammack, who has performed as a member of the Ahmad Jamal Trio, one of the most acclaimed jazz ensembles; and percussionist Arti Dixson, a longtime collaborator of Jamal and of jazz great Ella Fitzgerald. Pianist Michael Chertock has toured with the Boston Pops Orchestra and made his Carnegie Hall debut with the Cincinnati Pops performing Duke Ellington.

Concurrent with the performances, YEHUDA HANANI and colleagues lead a residency for 25 cellists, violinists and pianists selected from around the world. Daily master classes are open and free to the public, and all are invited to join and gain insight into the interaction between experienced master and young artist. In addition to violin, piano and cello master classes, demonstrations and talks with the artists in residence are open to the public and will include:

Encounters: “Crossing Over—Bridging the Classical and Popular.” An informal talk with Michael Chertock, pianist of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra at Christman’s Windham House on Thursday, August 17 from 7:30 to 9pm.

Tea & Talk at the Washington Irving Lodge with YEHUDA HANANI, Michael Chertock and Stefan Milenkovitch on Saturday, August 18 from 1:30-3:30, $25.

Encounters: “Evolution of Violin Showpieces.” An informal lecture/demonstration by Stefan

Milenkovich at the Doctorow Center for the Arts on Tuesday, August 21 from 7-8:30pm.

Classical Kids: Designed for children from ages 4 through 12, the performance will entertain parents as well. Saturday, August 18, from 1:30 to 3 pm at the Centre Church in Windham. Admission is free.

Amala Levine, director of the Millbrook Symposium and lecturer at New School University and UCLA, will return again this year to lead two Literary Lectures on “From the Lake District to the Hudson Valley in Poetry and Painting” and “From Berlin to America in Literature, Music and Film” which will complement the summer’s theme of art and dislocation. These talks are scheduled on August 24th and 25th from 1:30-3pm at the Hunter Village Square on Main Street in Hunter, NY.

There will be showings of films with a music theme, including a documentary about composer Philip Glass on Monday August 20 from 1-3pm; Taking Woodstock, Ang Lee’s 2009 film about the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Festival on Wednesday, August 22 from 1-3 with a guest speaker; and East of Eden, featuring the original score by Leonard Rosenman and special commentary by YEHUDA HANANI on Friday, August 24 from 4-6pm. All films will be shown at the Mountain Cinema on Main Street in Hunter, NY.

Two guided history hikes will be led by Carol and David White; on Friday, August 24 from 9 am-12 pm to the site of the Catskill Mountain House, Thomas Cole’s Artists Rock and Sunset Rock; and on Saturday, August 25, 9 am-12 pm to Boulder Rock and Split Rock.

Catskill High Peaks Festival is a performing and teaching institute bringing renowned musicians, pedagogues and exceptionally gifted international students to the Northern Catskills. For more information and a full schedule of all High Peaks Festival events contact Catskill Mountain Foundation at 518-263-2063 or visit the website at www.catskillmtn.org.

The Artists

YEHUDA HANANI’s charismatic playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and reengagements across the globe. An extraordinary recitalist, he is equally renowned for performances with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Buenes Aires Philharmonic, Irish National Symphony, Honolulu Symphony, Seoul Symphony, and BBC Welsh Symphony. He is a frequent guest at the Aspen, Chautauqua, Prades Festival (France), Finland Festival, Oslo, Ottawa, and the Australia Chamber Music Festival and has collaborated in performances with preeminent fellow musicians, including Leon Fleisher, Aaron Copland, Christoph Eschenbach, David Robertson, Dawn Upshaw and Vadim Repin, among others. A prolific recording artist and an innovator in reshaping concert programs to include original, illuminating commentary, he made the pioneering recording of the monumental Alkan Cello sonata, receiving a Grand Prix du Disque nomination. His engaging chamber music series, Close Encounters With Music, has captivated audiences from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Calgary, Scottsdale, the Berkshires, and at the Frick Collection in New York City.

“Rightfully rewarded with cheers from the audience” – The New York Times

Violinist STEFAN MILENKOVICH is recognized internationally for both exceptional artistry and his life-long commitment to humanitarianism, beginning with his appointment as Child Ambassador of the First Children’s Embassy founded in Yugoslavia during the war in Bosnia. At age seven he won grand prize in the Jaroslav Kozian Violin Competition, and came to international attention when at ten he was invited to perform for President Reagan at the White House. This was followed by an invitation from the former Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev. By age 17, he was a prizewinner in numerous international violin competitions: Indianapolis; the Queen Elisabeth (Belgium); Hanover (Germany); Paganini (Italy); and the Yehudi Menuhin (England). Orchestral concerto appearances include the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, Orchestra of Radio-France, Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, St. Petersburg State Orchestra, National Orchestra of Belgium and the Melbourne and Queensland Symphonies in Australia. He has served on the violin faculty of the Perlman Music Program and teaches at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

In a feature article on JAMES CAMMACK, Bass Player Magazine reviewer Richard Johnston nick-named James, who was at the time a Chicago resident, “Chicago fire,” for his hard-driving, creative approach to playing both acoustic and electric bass. Cammack has visited more than 30 countries backing pianist Ahmad Jamal and has also toured with singer Nancy Wilson, tubist Howard Johnson, and singer Vanessa Rubin. He has performed in some of the world’s most famous jazz clubs such as the Village Vanguard in New York City and Yoshi’s in San Francisco; and major jazz festivals, including the Montreal Jazz Festival, Italy’s Umbria Jazz Festival, and the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland. For the past 25 years, he has performed continuously with the legendary pianist Jamal.

Pianist MICHAEL CHERTOCK has toured Asia with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops, and with Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. and is a regular performer at the Raviinia Festival in Chicago, Blossom Music Center in Cleveland, and the Grand Tetons Music Festival in Wyoming. He has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, L’Orchestre Symphonique du Montreal, the Toronto Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Utah Symphony, and the Indianapolis Symphony. His performance on the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Petrouchka with Paavo Järvi turned in rave reviews in Gramophone and American Record Guide. He made his Carnegie Hall debut with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, performing Duke Ellington’s New World A’Comin’ and in 2005, gave the world premiere of Todd Machover’s concerto for hyper-piano and orchestra, Jeux Deux, in Boston’s Symphony Hall.

“… A first-rate pianist and an interpreter of notable interest through the freshness that he brought to familiar scores.” —La Presse (Montreal)

Percussionist ARTI DIXSON studied drum set concepts with the legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette. With folk-pop singer Janis Ian, he has performed in most major concert halls in the United States and toured Israel, Japan, Australia, Holland, Belgium, Spain and South Africa. He has also appeared with pianist Ahmad Jamal, throughout Europe as well as at Tanglewood, Saratoga, and Carnegie Hall and has worked at the the Foxwood Casino with Harry Connick and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra.

JENNIFER RIVERA has earned a spot as one of the most sought after and versatile lyric mezzo sopranos of her generation. While still a student at Juilliard, she was invited to join the roster of the New York City Opera, and after winning their prestigious Debut Artist of Year award, went on to sing several roles with the company. She created the starring role of Sharon Falconer in the critically acclaimed World Premiere of Robert Aldridge’s Elmer Gantry, which premiered at Nashville Opera in 2007. Her concert work has included recitals with the Marilyn Horne Foundation, a performance with Ms. Horne at Carnegie Hall, appearances at Avery Fisher Hall, and with the Berkshire Choral Festival and the L’Opera Français de New York.

“Jennifer Rivera … displayed a ravishing mezzo-soprano bloom from top to bottom, effortlessly negotiating the filigree with grace.” —Opera News

WILLIAM SCHIMMEL, virtuoso accordionist, teacher and lecturer, has performed with virtually every major symphony orchestra in America and enjoys a longstanding relationship with the Minnesota Orchestra. He is founder of the Tango Project, which appeared with Al Pacino in the film Scent of a Woman, won the Stereo Review Album of the Year Award, received a Grammy nomination, and rose to number one on the Billboard Classical Charts. An authority on the music of Kurt Weill, he has recorded all of Weill’s music that employs the accordion and has written many works for the concert hall as well as Broadway and off-Broadway. “Accordion mega-star” —The New York Time


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, 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 William Wolfram; 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.