The Newburyport Chamber Music Festival (NCMF) returns for its 21st season on Wednesday August 3, featuring two weeks of glorious music with backstage access and a front-row experience.
“What sets our festival apart from other festivals is the artists’ closeness to the audience,” said NCMF artistic director and violist David Yang. “At the standard festival, people can talk to you at the reception, but that’s it. We have opened everything at practically all levels.
“There are open rehearsals and a panel discussion and people seem to enjoy the Hausmusik sessions. I had no idea they would become the sensation they are. They sell out.
Hausmusik sessions are intimate chamber music readings held in private residences where musicians show up with a stack of music and the audience chooses which pieces to sight read.
The highlight of the 2022 Festival is the highly anticipated world premiere of ‘The Jury’ for string quartet and soprano, with libretto by Newburyport Poet-in-Residence 2022 Rhina Espaillat.
Celebrating Espaillat’s 90th anniversary, “The Jury” was composed by Pulitzer-nominated 2022 Composer-in-Residence Jon Deak, who for many years served as the New York Philharmonic’s Associate Principal Bassist. His Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra, “The Headless Horseman”, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1992.
“Jon’s songwriting style and personality are inspiring,” said NCMF Artistic Director David Yang. “Music is a language in its own right. You can make the listener feel an emotion and Jon takes it to the next level with the musician actually speaking through the instrument. His music has a strongly theatrical aspect.
“We have this incredible Rhina poem. He loves the poem and it’s just amazing what he’s done with it. There is a certain pleasure in seeing this poem turn into music. It will be unlike anything we have done before. It’s an incredibly nice room. Pure joy.”
Founded in 2002 by Yang and Newburyport resident Jane Niebling, this August classical chamber music event series has grown from three musicians and three concerts to this summer with 12 artists, 13 events and six venues. Originally sponsored by St Paul’s Church in Newburyport, the festival is now an independent non-profit organisation.
“The centerpiece of the festival is the Schoenberg (String Quartet No. 2, Op. 10),” Yang said, “which shares the program with the Deak because it contains a soprano. It’s a difficult piece and I’ve wanted to do it for years. It is absolutely sublime music.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, art and music were becoming more abstract, he said.
“It starts very solidly in tone,” he said. “It’s beautiful, it’s rich, and as the piece goes on, it starts to reject the tonality. At the end of the piece he gradually slips you into atonality and at the end of the piece he has rejected the tonality. It’s incredibly beautiful in so many ways.
The 2022 festival also features Mozart’s String Quartet in C major, K.465, which Yang calls “arguably the most perfect of Mozart’s perfect quartets.”
“Dubbed the ‘Dissonance’, it begins with an unusually jarring start – for 1785, that is,” Yang said.
“There is a transcendent moment towards the beginning that makes my heart leap in my chest.
“Mozart installs it perfectly. The cello begins mysteriously with slow, throbbing notes as the other voices enter in succession with dissonant notes sustained out of key – first the viola, followed by the second violin, then, most discordantly, the first violin.
“Mozart’s own editor found the overture so bizarre he thought it must be a mistake. The tension builds for two minutes until it ends with a kind of question, which then turns into a rapid melody of almost supernatural beauty and simplicity. It’s like climbing a mountain in the rain when suddenly the clouds part and a wonderful view awaits you.
The festival continues with its annual cycle Shostakovich performing his Quartet No. 2 in A major composed at the height of the Second World War.
“It’s a masterpiece,” Yang said, “mature Shostakovich. It ends in a fast and furious game. People like Shostakovich love it. They’ve been waiting for it. collapse the house.
That’s not all. Other events include the return of our Nachtmusik concert held in the dark in Brown’s Chapel in Oak Hill Cemetery, two Hausmusik concerts at private homes where every seat is nearby, two concerts at St. Paul’s and the concert free family on Inn Street. , as well as a panel discussion and demonstration, public rehearsals, an interview with composer-in-residence Jon Deak and a lecture: “Music on the Brink: Schoenberg’s String Quartet No.2 and the Disintegration of Romanticism”.
“There’s all this great music out there,” Yang said, “and I love sharing it with people, but there’s also all this other great music that they may not have been exposed to. It’s not scary.
NCMF 2022 has something for everyone – Schoenberg, Mozart, Shostakovich, a world premiere celebrating
Rhina Espaillat’s 90th birthday, and much more. For a full schedule and to purchase tickets, visit www.newburyportchambermusic.org. Current COVID protocols will be followed.