Music of Dvorak, Smetana & Janacek

Lily Francis Holding a Violin

Close Encounters With Music ushers in the summer season in the Berkshires Saturday, June 5, 6PM with Prague Spring—Czech Idyll, a program at the historic Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts celebrating the land of Franz Kafka, bucolic landscapes, and Bohemian crystal. The music of Dvořák, Smetana, and Janáček glows with lyricism and melodiousness. Dvořák’s Piano Quintet, a recognized masterpiece, along with other selections, overflows with Mittel-European ease, cultivation, and affecting tenderness. We are never far, in this music, from the Czech countryside and a languid summer’s evening. The influence of nationalism on nineteenth century music extended to the Czech masters. As Liszt, Brahms, Chopin, and Grieg drew from the folk traditions of Hungary, Poland, and Norway, so too, Dvořák, Smetana, and Janáček, created a distinctively Czech musical voice, reflecting the rhythms and harmonies of native song and dance.

Joining artistic director Yehuda Hanani are pianist Lydia Atrymiw, violinists Erin Keefe and Lily Francis, and violist Toby Appel. The program is repeated Sunday afternoon, June 6, 2:30 PM at the Doctorow Center for the Arts in the Catskill region in Hunter, NY.

Lydia Artymiw, one of the most compelling talents of her generation, has performed with the orchestras of Boston, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington, and numerous others. Solo tours have taken her to all major American cities, to London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, Rome, and throughout the Far East. Festival appearances include Aspen, Caramoor, Hollywood Bowl, Marlboro, Mostly Mozart. She has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Richard Stoltzman, Kim Kashkashian, the Guarneri and Tokyo Quartets, and toured nationally with Music from Marlboro. A recipient of top prizes in the Leventritt and Leeds International Competitions, she graduated from Philadelphia’s University of the Arts and studied with Gary Graffman for twelve years. Artymiw is the McKnight Distinguished Professor of Piano at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Violinist Erin Keefe, winner of the 2006 Avery Fisher Career Grant, is praised as a compelling artist of exhilarating temperament and fierce integrity. She took the Grand Prizes in the Torun International Violin Competition (Poland) and was Silver Medalist in the Carl Nielsen Competition. She has appeared throughout the United States, Europe and the Far East and collaborated with Gary Graffman, Richard Goode, and Leon Fleisher and appeared with Michael Tilson Thomas premiering his own chamber music at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall. Her festival appearances have included Marlboro, Ravinia, and Bridgehampton. As a member of Chamber Music Society Two, she has appeared at Lincoln Center and on tour and was featured on Live From Lincoln Center.

The dynamic Lily Francis is sought after both as violinist and violist. A member of Chamber Music Society Two, she regularly performs at Lincoln Center. She has appeared with the Hartford Symphony and is the violist of the Vertigo String Quartet. Ms. Francis has performed at the Marlboro and Aspen Festivals and has played alongside Richard Goode, Ida Kavafian, Ani Kavafian, and Mitsuko Uchida. She has appeared at Bridgehampton Chamber Music, Caramoor’s Rising Stars series, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

Violinist Toby Appel has appeared in recital and concerto performances all over the world. He has been a member of such renowned ensembles as TASHI and the Lenox and Audubon quartets and guest artist with the Vermeer, Manhattan, and Composers quartets, as well as with the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society and jazz artists Chick Corea and Gary Burton. Festival performances include Mostly Mozart and Marlboro. He is a regular commentator for National Public Radio’s Performance Today. Mr. Appel currently teaches at the Juilliard School and has toured for The United States State Department and performed at the United Nations and the White House.

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, Baltimore Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Honolulu Symphony, Jerusalem Symphony, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, and Taipei and Seoul symphonies, among others. His recording of the monumental Alkan Cello Sonata—the first ever—received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination, and his other discs have won wide recognition. His best-selling recording of the Unaccompanied Bach Suites has become a standard-setter, and of his recent Naxos CD with the National Symphony of Ireland Fanfare Magazine wrote: “Renowned cellist Yehuda Hanani, great virtuoso that he is, handles this with astounding aplomb… .”

Tickets for Saturday June 5 are $40 or $25 for adults and $10 for students, and are available at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 413.528.0100, through Close Encounters With Music at 800-843-0778, or by emailing [email protected]. For information about the Doctorow Center performance, call 518-263-2063. Please visit our website at

Prague Spring—Czech Idyll Saturday, June 5, 6 PM and Sunday, June 6, 2:30 PM

The performances take place at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, Massachusetts and at the Doctorow Center for the Arts, Hunter, New York.

“A chamber music series on a par with anything heard at the height of the season. For this, we year-rounders are blessed.” —Rogovoy Report

“There’s a palpable mystique about these Close Encounters concerts.” —Berkshire Eagle

“STUNNER CLOSES SEASON! Though Hanani, Prutsman and Upshaw all performed with that rare combination of mutual understanding and technical finesse which makes for the most satisfying chamber music, Hanani deserves special recognition for his astute program choices.” —Albany Times Union

“An all-star lineup…CEWM’s usual high caliber.” —Metroland

About Soldier’s Tale! performance December 2009: “…an intriguing project, and a noble effort… exuberant theatrical adventure… Stravinsky’s winsomely galloping waltzes, polkas and marches framing the dialogues were in superb hands with the ensemble.” —Berkshire Eagle