April 11, 2018
Two world premieres, six festival debuts, and an eclectic array of classical luminaries highlight Caramoor’s extensive chamber lineup this summer. Iconic new-music ensembles Kronos Quartet and Sō Percussion, Metropolitan Opera star Isabel Leonard in a duo recital with guitarist Sharon Isbin, pianist Marc-André Hamelin, and South African guitarist Derek Gripper all make their Caramoor debuts. The Verona Quartet serves as the 2017–18 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence, premiering a Caramoor commission from composer Julia Adolphe. The Jasper Quartet pairs nineteenth-century classics with two works from the current decade; the Brentano Quartet and clarinetist Todd Palmer offer music from Gesualdo to Brahms; and Lincoln Center “Emerging Artist” Michael Brown plays a solo piano recital. Finally, Caramoor’s second annual Chamber Feast features a roster of alums from Caramoor’s Evnin Rising Stars young artist program, as well as violinist Pamela Frank and Rubinstein Competition-winning pianist Roman Rabinovich. All these chamber events take place during the 73rd summer season (June 16–July 29) on Caramoor’s historic Westchester estate, which offers 90 acres of picturesque Italianate architecture and gardens just one hour’s drive from Manhattan.
New Music with Kronos Quartet and Sō Percussion
Over the course of its 40-year history, San Francisco’s Grammy-winning Kronos Quartet has brought to life over 900 new works and arrangements, delving into a diverse repertoire spanning 20th-century masters, contemporary composers, jazz legends, rock artists, and more. Continually pushing its own artistic boundaries, the group has recently collaborated on albums with Laurie Anderson and the superb Malian griot group Trio da Kali, as well as on an opera by Jonathan Berger commemorating the 50th anniversary of the My Lai massacre. Kronos Quartet makes its long-overdue Caramoor debut June 29, combining music by minimalist pioneers Steve Reich and Terry Riley with arrangements of songs ranging from George Gershwin and Charles Mingus to Laurie Anderson and Rhiannon Giddens, who co-headlined last season’s American Roots Music Festival.
The four-man percussion band Sō Percussion, lauded by the New Yorker for its “exhilarating blend of precision and anarchy, rigor and bedlam,” also debuts at Caramoor this season, performing in the Venetian Theater on June 22. Repertoire includes a world premiere by Vijay Iyer; music by ensemble member Jason Treuting; a composition from Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw premiered by the group in 2012; and works by John Cage, Steve Reich, and Paul Lansky.
Pre-concert talks, taking place an hour before the performances, will precede both the Kronos Quartet performance on June 29 and Sō Percussion on June 22.
Verona Quartet – the 2017/18 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence, plus Jasper and Brentano Quartets
This year’s Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence is the Verona Quartet. Praised by the New York Times as “cohesive yet full of temperament … vibrant, intelligent,” the quartet will give a concert on June 21 that includes a Caramoor-commissioned world premiere by Julia Adolphe, “a gifted American composer whose artistry is turning heads around the country” (Cincinnati Enquirer), and whose White Stone was given its world premiere at Bravo! Vail last summer by the New York Philharmonic. Caramoor’s dedication to commissioning new music extends to the string quartet repertoire, and Adolphe’s work represents the nineteenth commission for its “String Quartet Library for the 21st Century” initiative launched in 2000. Rounding out the program with selections from Dvořák’s Cypresses and Janacek’s String Quartet No. 2 “Intimate Letters,” the Verona Quartet performance caps a yearlong residency that also involves giving classroom-based instruction and performance clinics in Caramoor’s educational outreach program, and recitals in Caramoor’s fall and spring seasons.
A former Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence (2009-11), the Jasper String Quartet – hailed by The Strad as “sonically delightful and expressively compelling” – performs in the lovely acoustics and intimate setting of Caramoor’s Spanish Courtyard on July 6. They present a wide-ranging program in which Beethoven’s Quartet in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2 and Mendelssohn’s E Minor, Op. 44, No. 2 bookend works by two contemporary composers: Missy Mazzoli, best known for the recent triumphant debut of her opera Breaking the Waves at Philadelphia Opera, and Ted Hearne, also known for theatrical vocal compositions, as well as instrumental music and characterized as a “panstylistic provocateur” by Opera News.
Also in the Spanish Courtyard, the Brentano Quartet – acclaimed as one of the world’s top string quartets for over 20 years – is joined by three-time Grammy-nominated clarinetist Todd Palmer on July 20 for the Brahms Clarinet Quintet in B minor, on a program that includes arrangements of madrigals by Renaissance experimental harmonist Gesualdo, and Beethoven’s Quartet in C minor, Op. 18, No. 4. As The Times of London raved: “The Brentanos are a magnificent string quartet … This was wonderful, selfless music-making.”
A Chamber Feast
Caramoor is justly celebrated for nurturing young talent and offering sterling follow-up support, not only through the Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence program, but also the Evnin Rising Stars and Schwab Vocal Rising Stars young artist programs. Caramoor’s 2nd Annual Chamber Feast on July 15 features an entire roster of string players who are Evnin Rising Stars alums. Led by Caramoor favorite and Evnin Rising Stars Artistic Director Pamela Frank on violin, they are: violinists Alexi Kenney and Jesse Mills; violists Ayane Kozasa and Vicki Powell; and cellists Oliver Herbert and Karen Ouzounian. They are joined by Moran Katz on clarinet and Rubinstein Competition-winning Israeli pianist Roman Rabinovich for works by Mozart, Bartók, and Dvořák. This concert is by way of a follow-up to last season’s “A Chamber Feast in Three Courses,” which paid tribute to the 25-year tenure of Caramoor’s then-retiring Managing Director Paul Rosenblum. Prior to the 4pm Chamber Feast performance, at 2pm that same afternoon musicians from the National Youth Orchestra of the USA and NYO2 will be performing free chamber music around the Caramoor grounds.
Piano and Guitar Recitals
Pianist Marc-André Hamelin makes his Caramoor debut on July 8. Known as “an ideal interpreter” of the Classical and Romantic repertoire, with “preternatural clarity and control” (New York Times), Hamelin’s program comprises Schumann’s Fantasy in C and Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B-flat, the last that Schubert would ever write. After a performance of the latter piece, the Philadelphia Inquirer found that “Hamelin’s virtuoso piano technique was fully harnessed in the service of Schubert’s unvirtuosic music, allowing soft playing to make a more penetrating impression than usual.”
A second solo piano recital this summer is by Michael Brown, recently named an Emerging Artist of 2018 by Lincoln Center, and called “a young piano visionary” by the New York Times. He celebrates Leonard Bernstein’s centennial with a composition of his own titled 100 Chords for Bernstein, alongside Bernstein’s Four Movements from West Side Story. The program also includes Bernstein’s arrangement for piano of Copland’s El salón México, as well as a Haydn Fantasia and twentieth-century composer Nicolai Medtner’s Second Improvisation for Piano (July 12).
On June 28, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard – who appears regularly with the Metropolitan Opera – and guitarist Sharon Isbin – “the pre-eminent guitarist of our time” (Boston Magazine) – both make their Caramoor debuts as they give an intimate duo performance in the Spanish Courtyard. The program features music of Lorca, Granados, Rodrigo, Montsalvatge, Tarrega, and de Falla, drawn from their recent album, Alma Española, which scored a 2018 Grammy nomination and was praised by the Philadelphia Enquirer as containing “feasts of beautifully sculpted phrases … glimpses of heaven.”
Finally, South African guitarist Derek Gripper plays this summer’s Guitar in the Garden recital on July 19. Gripper’s ninth album consisted of transcriptions for guitar of West African kora compositions by Toumani Diabaté, and the virtuosic improbability of Gripper’s skill caused the composer himself to question whether it was just one person playing one guitar. Gripper’s latest and tenth release is of transcribed Bach violin concertos. Both Diabaté and Bach are on Gripper’s Caramoor debut program this summer, along with works by kora master Ballaké Sissoko, South African composer and traditional instrument expert Madosini, and Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti.
For high-resolution photos, click here.
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Caramoor is a performing arts center located on a unique 90-acre estate with Italianate architecture and gardens in Westchester County, NY. It enriches the lives of its audiences through innovative and diverse musical performances of the highest quality. Its mission also includes mentoring young professional musicians and providing educational programs for young children centered around music. Audiences are invited to come early to explore the beautiful grounds; tour the historic Rosen House, a stunning mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places; unwind with a pre-concert picnic or concessions with beer and wine; enjoy a delicious Afternoon Tea on Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the summer season; and discover beautiful music in the relaxed settings of the Venetian Theater, Spanish Courtyard, Music Room of the Rosen House, and magnificent gardens. Summer concerts take place in two outdoor theaters: the acoustically superb Venetian Theater, which seats approximately 1,500, and the more intimate, romantic Spanish Courtyard, which seats around 470. In the fall and winter, concerts are presented in the splendid Music Room in the Rosen House. Caramoor’s gardens, also used for concerts and the sound exhibition Sonic Innovations, are well worth the visit and include nine unique perennial gardens. Among them are a Sense Circle for the visually impaired, the Sunken Garden, a Butterfly Garden, the Tapestry Hedge, and the Iris and Peony Garden.
Getting to Caramoor
Getting to Caramoor is simple by car, train or public transportation. All parking is free and close to the performance areas. Handicapped parking is also free and readily available.
By car from New York City, take the Henry Hudson Parkway north to the Saw Mill River Parkway north to I-684 north to Exit 6. Go east on Route 35 to the traffic light (0.3 miles). Turn right onto Route 22 south, and travel 1.9 miles to the junction of Girdle Ridge Road where there is a green Caramoor sign. At the junction, veer left and make a quick right onto Girdle Ridge Road. Continue on Girdle Ridge Road 0.5 miles to the Caramoor gates on the right. Approximate drive time is one hour.
By train from Grand Central Station, take the Harlem Division Line of the Metro-North Railroad heading to Southeast, and exit at Katonah. Caramoor is a 3.5-mile drive from the Katonah station, where taxi service is always available and free shuttle service is available for most performances. For current information, check the Metro-North schedule.
Chamber music in Caramoor’s 2018 summer season
Dvořák: Cypresses (selections)
Julia Adolphe: New work – world premiere (commissioned by Caramoor)
Janacek: String Quartet No. 2 “Intimate Letters”
8pm, pre-concert talk at 7pm
Reich: Mallet Quartet
Paul Lansky: Springs
Jason Treuting: Mallet Quartet
Caroline Shaw: Taxidermy
Vijay Iyer: Mallet Quartet – world premiere
Cage: Third Construction
Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano* & Sharon Isbin, guitar*
Lorca (Trans. Isbin): “El café de Chinitas,” “Romance de Don Boyso,” and “Sevillanas del siglo XVIII” from Canciones españolas antiguas
Granados: Danza española No. 5 in E Minor, “Andaluza”
Rodrigo: Aranjuez ma pensée
Montsalvatge (Trans. Isbin): “Canción de cuña para dormir a un negrito” from Cinco canciones negras
Lorca (Arr. Torre/Trans. Isbin): “La tarara” from Canciones españolas antiguas
Tarrega: Capricho árabe
de Falla: Siete canciones populares españolas
8pm, pre-concert talk at 7pm
Traditional (Arr. Jacob Garchik, after Everly Brothers): The House of the Rising Sun
Gershwin (Arr. Jacob Garchik, after Janis Joplin): Summertime
Meeropol (Arr. Jacob Garchik, after Billie Holiday): Strange Fruit
Mingus (Arr. Sy Johnson): Children’s Hour of Dream
Wiley (Arr. Jacob Garchik): Last Kind Words
Terry Riley: Salome Dances for Peace: Good Medicine
Aleksandra Vrebalov: My Desert, My Rose
Rhiannon Giddens (Arr. Jacob Garchik): At the Purchaser’s Option with Variations
Laurie Anderson (Arr. Jacob Garchik): Flow
Steve Reich: Triple Quartet
Jasper String Quartet
Jasper String Quartet
Beethoven: String Quartet No 2 in G, Op. 18, No. 2
Ted Hearne: Law of Mosaics: 1. Excerpts from the middle of something
Missy Mazzoli: Death Valley Junction
Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2
Marc-André Hamelin, piano*
Schumann: Fantasy in C, Op. 17
Schubert: Piano Sonata in B-flat, D. 960
Michael Brown, piano
Michael Brown, piano
Haydn: Fantasia in C, H.XVII:4, “Capriccio”
Medtner: Second Improvisation for Piano, Op. 47
Michael Brown: 100 Chords for Bernstein
Bernstein (Arr. Leo Smit): Four Movements from West Side Story
Copland (Arr. Bernstein): El salón México
Caramoor’s 2nd Annual Chamber Feast
Musicians from NYO-USA/NYO2 play chamber music throughout the grounds
Pamela Frank, violin
Alexi Kenney, violin (ERS alum)
Jesse Mills, violin (ERS alum)
Ayane Kozasa, viola (ERS alum)
Vicki Powell, viola (ERS alum)
Oliver Herbert, cello (ERS alum)
Karen Ouzounian, cello (ERS alum)
Moran Katz, clarinet
Roman Rabinovich, piano
Mozart: String Quintet in D, K. 593
Bartók: Contrasts, BB 116
Dvořák: String Sextet in A, Op. 48
Derek Gripper, guitar*
Derek Gripper, guitar
Works by Toumani Diabaté, Ballaké Sissoko, Madosini, J.S. Bach and Egberto Gismonti
Brentano Quartet with Todd Palmer, Clarinet
Todd Palmer, clarinet
Gesualdo: Madrigals (Selections TBD)
Beethoven: String Quartet No. 4 in C minor, Op. 18, No. 4
Brahms: Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in B minor, Op. 115
* Caramoor debut
All concerts made possible, in part, by ArtsWestchester with funds from the Westchester County Government.
All concerts made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
The 2018 Summer Music Festival is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
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© 21C Media Group, April 2018