The Newburyport Chamber Music Festival will celebrate its 20th season this summer with six concerts over six days, as well as open rehearsals, a conference and a panel discussion.
“The only difference from a normal summer is that they will all be outside,” said NCMF Artistic Director David Yang. “When we planned this festival months in advance, we were a little leery of sitting inside.”
The rain location for most Festival concerts is under the tent at the Theater in the Open, One Spring Lane, Newburyport. The Custom House concert will take place under a marquee at the Custom House.
“Because we can’t have that many people at a Garden Concert, we do more,” Yang said. “We usually have three concerts. This year we will have six concerts in a row, and the concerts will be a bit shorter without a full intermission.
This summer, tubist Scott Devereaux and composer-in-residence Eric Ewazen will join Yang on viola with violinists Sharon Roffman and Rebecca Anderson, and cellist Clancy Newman.
“It’s an amazing band this summer,” said Yang, “a fantastic band. We have this crazy tuba player coming up. Scott is a tuba virtuoso and Eric writes a piece for tube and string quartet. is pretty exciting, I’ve never worked with a hit before.
The festival will begin with a lecture presenting the summer’s main work “Hiding in plain sight: secrets and forbidden love in Berg’s“ lyrical suite ”,” followed by a week of open rehearsals at St. Paul’s where people will be socially distanced. Also on the program, a round table to meet new artists and hear them work on the world premiere of Ewazen.
The repertoire also includes quartets by Haydn and Shostakovich, music for solo violin by Bach and Ysaÿe, and music for solo tuba, including Penderecki’s “Capriccio”, “Winter” from the Four Seasons and “The Flight of the drone ”by Rimsky-Korsakov.
The informal family concert in Place Patrick Tracy will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 10. Sit back and bring your own iced tea or smoothie as you listen to selections from summer programs, including works by Ysaÿe, Berg, Haydn, Bach, and Shostakovich. The program is not intended for children, but they are welcome.
Haydn’s Opus 71 String Quartet No. 3 will be featured in five of the NCMF’s garden concerts.
“The Haydn quartet is heaven for me,” said Yang, “and we can play it five times in a row. If I were to play a string quartet for the rest of my life, I would be so happy to play a string quartet. Haydn strings different every day. That would be pure bliss. The Haydn is amazingly beautiful, happy and humorous music. It’s just nice to live with that every day.
“” Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 9, on the other hand, harnesses completely different emotions, starting cryptically and ending with a fierce tornado of sound. As happy as the Haydn is, Shostakovich’s end is a little furious. It’s sad, angry and moving.
Alban Berg’s “Lyric Suite” is the centerpiece around which the Festival revolves.
“The Berg combines it all,” Yang said. “It’s six movements. Some are quite sunny and happy and some are angry and stressful. It covers the whole range.
Books have been written on Berg’s technical mastery, Yang said. The third movement is a palindrome. Part C is part A literally upside down.
“It’s just amazing,” he said, “because like all good music, when you remove layer after layer, you discover incredible complexity. The Berg’s third movement is incredibly fast. It’s the hardest thing I’ve played in my life. It’s short and pure, an abject terror for musicians. When you know it, it blows the mind. It is arguably the most influential string quartet of the 20th century. It’s amazing work.
While some pieces will be performed throughout the Festival, each evening is a different program.
“If people want to come to multiple concerts,” Yang said, “they’ll hear different pieces in different contexts. You always hear something new. It’s always incredibly exciting.
Founded in 2002 by Newburyport resident Yang and Jane Niebling, this week-long classical chamber music event series in August was originally sponsored by St. Paul’s Church in Newburyport. The Festival now operates as an independent, non-profit organization.
for your information
WHAT: Newburyport Chamber Music Festival
WHEN: From Wednesday August 4 to Sunday August 15
OR: locations throughout the Greater Newburyport area
INFO: www.NewburyportChamberMusic.org, 978-701-4914, [email protected]. Tickets for the garden concerts are $ 20-30. Other events are free, but some require tickets to ensure safe levels of participation.