Music Undefeated! Close Encounters with Music and the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center Presents a Virtual Autumn Series – Three Concerts, from the Historic Stage to your Screen

Photographs of Performing Artists

SEPTEMBER 17, 2020

Embarking on its 29th year of presenting outstanding chamber music with lively commentary, the Berkshires’ premier chamber music organization Close Encounters With Music embraces its second quarter-century with a new season of chamber music treasures and discoveries, world-renowned musicians and extraordinary new faces, original programming of classical, contemporary and cutting-edge music—streamed online throughout the fall to meet the challenges facing live performing arts. The continuation of the regular in-person Season 2021 is pending COVID-19 developments.

“Even under the most dire of circumstances, throughout history, the need for music never stopped. We are resolute and happy to provide performances virtually as a reminder of the richness and beauty that life should offer,” says Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani. “I’m elated to be reunited with my friends and colleagues on the stage of the Mahaiwe and to share the bounty of Beethoven, Brahms, Boulanger, etc. online with not only our customary audiences, but also with an expanded public that defies geography. We’re grateful to those who are donating to this Autumn Series making it possible to offer these performances without ticket revenue.”

Close Encounters With Music will partner with the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and Classical WMHT-FM to present the series of three concerts October through December filmed live from the Mahaiwe stage and available for everyone to access—with the illuminating and personal insights from artistic director Hanani that audiences have enjoyed for over twenty-eight years, plus an “Afterglow” chat with guest musicians.

CEWM online offerings were launched in July when the decision was made to present an entirely virtual Berkshire High Peaks Festival, with the participation of 46 international string, piano and vocal students, followed by the August 2nd live-streamed concert, “From Bach to Bachianas,” a guitar/cello recital featuring Eliot Fisk and Yehuda Hanani on stage in an empty Mahaiwe theater. Videos of festival presentations and more are available on the Close Encounters With Music YouTube Channel.


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 and enlighten the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Joan Tower, Thea Musgrave, 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, Roman Rabinovich, Soyeon Kate Lee, Max Levinson and Michael Chertock; violinists, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Vadim Gluzman, Julian Rachlin, Peter Zazofsky, Itamar Zorman and Hagai Shaham; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein and Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Danielle Talamantes and Kelley O’Connor; the Muir, Manhattan, Ariel, Vermeer, Escher, Avalon, Hugo Wolf, Dover string quartets; and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Sam Waterston, 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 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 The Clark in Williamstown, at Tanglewood and in Great Barrington, MA, as well as the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Summer performances have taken place at the New York State Museum, Basilica Hudson, Orpheum Theatre in Tannersville, and in the orchard at Olana. In its 11th year, the Berkshire High Peaks Festival takes place virtually July 20-31 with over 20 free concerts, talks and masterclasses available to audiences everywhere: