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The Times Record
July 31, 2014
New works and old at Bowdoin International Music Festival
By GINA HAMILTON

On July 23rd and July 30th, new pieces were performed at the Bowdoin International Music Festival, bookended with audience favorites.

The new pieces couldn't have been more unalike. On July 23, Samuel Adler's new string quartet (his 10th) was premiered by the all female Cassatt String Quartet Ethereal, with pure harmonies and counterpoints, the new Adler quartet showed a depth of the composer's growth as an artist. The Cassatt String Quartet, consisting of Muneko Otani, Jennifer Leshnower, Sarah Adams, and Nicole Johnson, struck a delicate and interesting balance between a lively attack on the piece and communing with the sublime; the music's parts competed and cooperated with one another as the piece built up to a crescendo-like wave, then, also like a wave, subsided into the greater ocean of sound.

Also on the 23rd program was the Shostokovitch Viola Sonata , Opus 147, which was eerily reminiscent of some of Adler's earlier work. The viola of Jesus Rudolfo was deep and resonant, sounding alternately like a string instrument and a reedy wind instrument . Peter Basquin, on piano, alternated with the viola for lead instrument, like two voices in an aria. The other piece was the Antonin Dvorak Piano Quartet Number 2, with the sublime Janet Sung on violin. Each movement was full of surprises and energetic eruptions, except the last, which seemed to be pure energy.

On July 30, the new piece was very different. The piece, by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, was entitled "Light and Matter". It was a tonal poem, heavy on texture. The composer spoke about the process of its composition, and explained that she was trying to catch the evocative nature of light shifting in a small park in New York City, near where she had been living while she worked on the piece. The three performers - Renee Jolles on violin, Nicholas Canellakis on cello, and Benjamin Hochman on piano - tossed the tone from instrument to instrument, while playing with texture and a shift of musical timbre. The piano takes a turn as a string instrument; the cello becomes a percussive instrument; the violin scrapes along with a reedy quality on a half-rosined bow.

The piece was all the more remark able because the violinist who was supposed to perform, Jennifer Koh, was a late cancellation owing to illness.

Janet Sung stepped in in the first piece of the evening. The Violin Concerto in A Minor by Johannes Sebastian Bach was scratched for Bach's Concerto for Two Violins, Strings and Continuo in D Minor, BWV 1043. Jennifer Koh was replaced by Janet Sung and Frank Huang on violin, joined by the Bowdoin Festival Orchestra. It was a brilliant rendition, especially considering that the change occurred only early this week. Finally, the Mozart String Quintet No. 4 in G Minor featured Mikhail Kapelman on first violin, Renee Jolles on violin, Rami Solomonow and Dimitri Murrah on viola, and Meta Weiss on cello.

These two new works are only two of works commissioned for the Festival or groups associated with the Festival. New works can also be seen this weekend at the Gamper Festival for Contemporary Music, August 2 and 3, at Studzinski Recital Hall on the Bowdoin campus. Suggested donation is only $10, and performances begin at 7:30 p.m.



June 25, 2014
Free concerts in Belfast, Vinalhaven:
Seal Bay Festival, 2014


The 12th Seal Bay Festival of American Chamber Music will run Monday through Saturday, July 7 through 12, with performances on Vinalhaven; and in Belfast, Waterville and Ogunquit.

The festival brings the Manhattan-­based Cassatt String Quartet and living American composers together in collaboration for a series of concerts on the coast of Maine to include performances for school children, at Colby College Museum of Art and the Barn Gallery in Ogunquit; and four master classes with student performers and student composers, at Bay Chamber Music School in Rockport and the Atlantic Music Festival in Waterville.

The Midcoast concerts are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, July 9 and 10. The free concerts by the Cassatt String Quartet with guest Lauren Lessing, Colby College Museum of Art's Merkin Curator of Education, feature music by George Gershwin; Seal Bay Festival Director Daniel S. Godfrey; Bruce Adolphe, Director of Education at Lincoln Center and host of NPR's "Piano Puzzler"; and Lawrence Dillon from the North Carolina School for the Arts.

On Wednesday at 7 p.m., the concert will be presented at Vinalhaven's New Era Gallery, 60 Main St.; for more information, call 863-­9351. At 8:45 p.m., there will be a Rhapsody In Blue fixe-­prix ($40) dinner with the artists at Salt Restaurant, 64 Main St.; for reservations, visit saltvh.com or call 863-­4444.

On Thursday at 7 p.m., Seal Bay comes to Waterfall Arts, 256 High St., in Belfast; for more information, visit sealbayfestival.org or call 338-­2222. Remaining public events will be: a concert Friday at 7 p.m. in Colby College's Lorimer Chapel ([888] 704-­1311, ext. 1); and a children's Seal Bay Festival, 2014 6/26/2014 Seal Bay Festival, 2014 - Rockland - Camden - Knox - Courier-Gazette - Camden Herald http://knox.villagesoup.com/p/seal-bay-festival-2014/1203598 2/21 concert Saturday at 2 p.m. at Ogunquit's Barn Gallery (646-­8400). The Cassatt String Quartet returns to collaborate with resident composers Adolphe and Dillon, and each program invites the public to interact casually with both composers and performers. The 2014 theme of New Creative Heights connects music, visual arts and history, seen through artistic struggle and triumph.

Seal Bay's Honorary Vice President is Camden composer John Duffy. This summer's festival includes new partners Colby College Museum of Art, Atlantic Music Festival and New Era Gallery. Funding for the 2014 Seal Bay Festival includes private contributors, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Alice M. Ditson Fund for Music, Amphion Foundation, BMI Foundation, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Wild Blueberry Café and Pittsburgh Bacteriophage Institute.

Lauded as one of America's outstanding ensembles, the Manhattan-­based Cassatt String Quartet is equally adept at classical masterpieces and contemporary music. This season they make their debut at the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the College of Fine Arts and Communication in Central Arkansas, New York City's River to River Festival, Princeton University, the Honolulu Chamber Music Series, the Big Sky Music Festival in Montana (with cellist Hamilton Cheifetz), New York's Tenri Cultural Institute with the Koshinan Ensemble, the Pleasantville (N.Y.) Friends of Music, New York's American Bolero Dance Company and Connecticut's Treetops Chamber Music Society (with harpist Lisa Tannebaum). They again collaborated with Ursula Oppens in the premiere of Tania Leon's Piano Quintet and together appeared at Bargemusic (N.Y.) and Music Mountain (Conn.). Finally, they return to their eighth annual Texas educational residency, Cassatt In The Basin, which includes a Triple Quartet performed side-­by-­side with students and the Cassatt.

Established in 1985, the Cassatt has collaborated with a vast array of artists including members of the Cleveland and Vermeer quartets, the Trisha Brown Dance Company and Pulitzer-­prize winning composers Steven Stucky and John Harbison. The Cassatt holds residencies as New York's Symphony Space "All-­Stars"; and with the HotSprings Music Festival and Maine's Seal Bay Festival of Contemporary American Music.

Named three times by The New Yorker magazine's Best Of The Year CD Selection, the Cassatt has recorded more than 25 commercial releases for the Koch, Naxos, New World, Point, Tzadik, Albany and CRI labels. The Cassatt String Quartet is named for the celebrated American impressionist painter Mary Cassatt and can be found on YouTube. For more information, visit cassattquartet.com.

Courier Publications' A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-­4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.



Cassatt String Quartet featured in 2014 Seal Bay Festival, Maine


The twelfth Seal Bay Festival of American Chamber Music will be held from July 7th - 12th, 2014 with performances in Vinalhaven (7/9), Belfast (7/10), Waterville (7/11) and Ogunquit (7/12), Maine.

This summer's festival includes new partners, the Colby College Museum of Art, the Atlantic Music Festival and the New Era Gallery. The festival brings the superb Cassatt String Quartet and living American composers together in collaboration for a series of concerts on the coast of Maine to include performances for school children (Colby College Museum of Art and the Barn Gallery in Ogunquit) and four masterclasses with student performers and student composers (Bay Chamber Music School in Rockport and the Atlantic Music Festival in Waterville).

The Cassatt String Quartet returns to collaborate with resident composers Bruce Adolphe, Director of Education at Lincoln Center and host of NPR's "Piano Puzzler" and Lawrence Dillon from the North Carolina School for the Arts. The festival will also feature music by Seal Bay Festival director, Daniel S. Godfrey as well as George Gershwin. Each and every venue invites the public to interact casually with composers and performers. The Cassatts will be joined by Lauren Lessing, Colby College Museum of Art's Merkin Curator of Education in Vinalhaven and Belfast. This 2014 theme, "New Creative Heights" connects music, visual arts and history, seen through artistic struggle and triumph.

Funding for the 2014 Seal Bay Festival includes private contributors, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Alice M. Ditson Fund for Music, Amphion Foundation, BMI Foundation, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Wild Blueberry Café, Pittsburgh Bacteriophage Institute.

Lauded as one of America's outstanding ensembles, the Manhattan based Cassatt String Quartet is equally adept at classical masterpieces and contemporary music. This season they make their debut at the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the College of Fine Arts and Communication in Central Arkansas, New York City's River to River Festival, Princeton University, the Honolulu Chamber Music Series, the Big Sky Music Festival (MT) with cellist, Hamilton Cheifetz, New York's Tenri Cultural Institute with the Koshinan Ensemble, the Pleasantville Friends of Music (NY) the American Bolero Dance Company (NY) and Treetops Chamber Music Society (CT) with harpist, Lisa Tannebaum. They again collaborated with Ursula Oppens in the premiere of Tania Leon's Piano Quintet and together appeared at Bargemusic (NY) and Music Mountain (CT). Finally they return to their eighth annual Texas educational residency, Cassatt In The Basin! which includes a Triple Quartet performed side-by-side with students and the Cassatt.

Established in 1985, the Cassatt has collaborated with a vast array of artists including members of the Cleveland and Vermeer Quartets, the Trisha Brown Dance Company, and Pulitzer-prize winning composers, Steven Stucky and John Harbison. The Cassatt holds residencies as New York's Symphony Space "All-Stars" and with the HotSprings Music Festival and Maine's Seal Bay Festival of Contemporary American Music.

Named three times by The New Yorker magazine's Best Of The Year CD Selection, the Cassatt has recorded over twenty-five commercial releases for the Koch, Naxos, New World, Point, Tzadik, Albany and CRI Labels. The Cassatt String Quartet is named for the celebrated American impressionist painter Mary Cassatt and can be found on YouTube. For more information access: www.cassattquartet.com



Portland Press Herald
June 19, 2011
Review: Cassatt String Quartet worthy of acclaim
By CHRISTOPHER HYDE

The concert would have graced Lincoln Center; for it to take place at the Dunaway Center in Ogunquit Friday night was little short of phenomenal.

The world-renowned Cassatt String Quartet, with pianist Adrienne Kim, played four major contemporary works, including a world premiere. And each one was introduced by the composer.

The compositions varied tremendously in style, but each was given a thoughtful, lively and technically flawless performance. No composer could have asked for more.

The first work on the program was #Cadmium Yellow# by Laura Kaminsky, a string quartet in one movement that attempts to depict, primarily through timbre, the various emotional effects that can be realized by that color. The range of sounds the composer could wring from four stringed instruments was incredible.

#Chrome Yellow# was followed by the world premiere of #Cartas de Frida,# a piano quintet by Samuel Zyman, a Mexican composer who teaches at Juilliard. My favorite work of the evening, it is based upon three letters by Frida Kahlo to her off-again-on-again husband, Diego Rivera.

Each movement faithfully follows the emotional contours of the letter, from loving resignation through the most violent of passion and stages in between. Zyman's style is dramatic but basically tonal and melodic, using Latin idioms. I was groping for analogies when a friend suggested Korngold (the noted film music composer) meets Ravel. He was close, but Zyman has a quality all his own.

After intermission came #Lift High, Reckon; Fly Low, Come Close,# a piano trio by Anna Weesner. As the composer pointed out, the verb-adverb title is long, but the music, more dissonant than Zyman's, describes such encounters, perhaps intellectual versus sensual, quite accurately, with a wide range of effects, including some beautiful dripping water sounds that reminded me of Alban Berg.

More concrete imagery, but also emotionally accurate, was in the five-movement quartet #Quijotadas,# by Gabriela Lena Frank, which depicts scenes from the career of Don Quixote, ending with his awakening from illusion after a beating by donkey drivers.

Frank also employs Latin American rhythms and forms, but transformed by a thoroughly modern - and definitely non-nostalgic - sensibility.

Christopher Hyde's Classical Beat column appears in the Maine Sunday Telegram. He can be reached at classbeat@netscape.net.



Maine Sunday Telegram
June 5, 2011
Classical Beat: It's never too early to introduce kids to classical music
By CHRISTOPHER HYDE

If you read the Sunday paper early, it might be a good idea to pack the kids into the car and drive to Ogunquit's Dunaway Center in time for today's free 12:30 p.m. concert by the world-renowned Cassatt String Quartet. If no kids are available, the program, like all good music for children, will appeal to adults as well.

The quartet, on its way to the Salt Bay Chamberfest in Vinalhaven, will present a one-hour program with guest artist pianist Adrienne Kim titled "A World of Pure Imagination."

It will begin with "Nature in Music," which includes bird calls and music inspired by the New England countryside.
The second segment, "Imagination in Music," describes how ideas generate feelings that can be translated into drawings and music. Noted composer Laura Kaminsky will talk about the way painting and music can relate to one another, with examples from her string quartet "Cadmium Yellow" (2010).

The final episode is called "Dance Partners," showing how instruments fit together: "Do you have to stay with the same partner the whole time? Can you be by yourself? How do we stay together without stepping on each other's toes?"
To me, this is one of the best ways to get children interested in classical music: by involving their curiosity and enabling them to connect it to their own experience, without dumbing it down. Children can detect condescension a mile away.
They also love to be involved. The most popular spot in our house is the music room, where they can blow on recorders or slide whistles, beat the drum, try to get a sound out of a didgeridoo or bang on the piano. If it doesn't break strings to play Bartok, a child can't do too much damage, although my piano tuner disagrees.

Bartok is always a hit, although children will stand still for Debussy too, if it's a live performance and not too long. Bartok's loud tone clusters and dissonances make them jump for joy and shout, "Let me try it!" Mozart's five-octave stretch (use your nose) is also popular, like instantly learning "Joy to the World," a descending C-major scale.

The point is that children cannot be mere listeners unless there is something exciting going on, like a march to the gallows or Papageno playing the magic flute. Come to think of it, opera, in small doses, might also be a good introduction to the classics. But probably not - too much soupy love stuff.

The best predictor of musical enjoyment at a young age is musical parents, especially those who play an instrument. Exposure is all. Children tend to imitate the grown-ups they're around and to consider what they are brought up with the natural order of things.

It doesn't take much. My mother's only piano piece was one she had learned as a child: "Where the Shy Little Violets Grow," with a ragtime beat. We all loved it and would pester her to play it every time she got near a piano. It was my ambition to play anything that well.

Later, when I got a little better, she wanted me to play "Stardust," the "St. Louis Blues" and a Tchaikovsky Romance, when I wanted to play "Malaguena" like a kid I had heard on the radio. (I don't think he was very good, but it sounded miraculous to me.) My sister and I auditioned for a radio talent show because we knew all the songs in "Oklahoma!" forward and backward and could imitate all the voices. The judges thought the material was inappropriate for preteens. Then I was a boy soprano, an Irish tenor and finally a piano player.

It doesn't matter how "serious" the music is, as long as it is a constant presence and paid real attention to, something that seems impossible nowadays with the multitude of easy and inconsequential choices available to every kid with an iPod. When music is "background," it isn't music. The real danger is that it will be diluted out of existence.

I have been thinking for a long time about introducing children to the classics, especially because readers often lament the prevalence of white hair in the audience. Well, even rappers will eventually have white hair.

Classical music will always be there, and there will always be a select audience for it, even if it's only in the palace of an oligarch.

Christopher Hyde is a writer and musician who lives in Pownal. He can be reached at:classbeat@netscape.net

 

 

The Seal Bay Festival—P.O. Box 824, Vinalhaven, Maine 04863, (207) 863-2230 staff@sealbayfestival.org