We are Proud to Introduce the 2017 Season, June 24-August 5
Each summer, the Festival brings renowned artist instructors, performers, soloists, and gifted pre-professional classical musicians from around the world to beautiful Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine for six weeks of intensive chamber music study, collaboration, and performance. Musicians present more than 100 concerts and public educational events each season.
The Monday Showcase series features concerts played by world-class resident and guest ensembles including the Borromeo, Jupiter, Parker, Rolston, and Ying Quartets, joined by faculty in special guest appearances. There will also be a unique performance featuring collaboration between the Jupiter and Ying Quartets.
Festival Wednesdays fill the intimate Studzinski Recital Hall with the Festival’s commitment to bring world-class performances of chamber music to Maine audiences. Festival faculty, guest artists, and Fellows collaborate to explore the vast chamber music repertoire and present patrons with inspiring interpretations.
Festival Fridays showcase some of the Festival’s most exciting offerings, from chamber music to concertos with orchestra. Can’t-miss selections include Mendelssohn’s lyrical and beloved Violin Concerto played by violin superstar Anne Akiko Meyers, Beethoven’s gorgeous Fifth Piano Concerto featuring the outstanding Joseph Kalichstein, and much more!
New this year, the Festival will present four Festival Friday concerts in Studzinski Recital Hall and two in Crooker Theater. Be sure to double-check the schedule to ensure you attend the correct venue. Fridays at Studzinski will fill up quickly; be sure to reserve your seats early!
Each of these series is often fully subscribed. Last season every Monday Showcase performance was SOLD OUT. The Festival anticipates even greater ticket sales this season. Guarantee your seats and save by subscribing now!
The Ying Quartet opens the Festival season with a brilliantly-crafted program showcasing the diversity of Russian music, from Prokofiev’s folk-inflected String Quartet No. 2, composed at the outbreak of World War II, to “Souvenir de Florence,” Tchaikovsky’s musical postcard from his favorite vacation spot – with Stravinsky’s early neo-Classical gem along the way. Although composed within a range of fifty-two years, these works seem worlds apart, alluding to the immense historical and artistic upheavals that characterized the early twentieth century.
String Quartet No. 2 in F Major, Op. 92
Tonight presents a rare opportunity to hear the recently discovered work of Dick Kattenburg. Tragically murdered at Auschwitz at the age of 24, Kattenburg was scarcely remembered until a decade ago, when his musical legacy, including his vibrant, jazzy Quartet, was discovered in a relative’s attic. Ani Schnarch interprets Schumann’s densely textured Violin Sonata, the first of two completed in 1851. Brahms, in turn, evokes his tormented love for Clara Schumann in his Piano Quartet in C Minor, quoting in the first movement the ‘Clara theme’ from Schumann’s Bunte Blätter.
Derek Bermel returns once again to the Festival’s faculty, composing and performing on tonight’s eclectic program. His Death with Interruptions takes inspiration from writer José Saramago, dramatising Death as a musical character. Bartók’s compact and evocative Contrasts, composed for jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman, combines dances and melodies from across Central Europe. The second half brings a perennial favorite in the form of Arensky’s elegiac Piano Trio No. 1, inspired by the work of his friend and compatriot Tchaikovsky, whose own Piano Trio, composed a decade earlier, will be performed later in the season, on Friday, July 7.
Rising stars in chamber music, the Rolston String Quartet won first prize at the 2016 Banff International Competition and will arrive at the Festival fresh off their first European tour. Formed in Canada in 2013, they bring the work of their compatriot composer R. Murray Schafer, whose research into natural soundscapes and the rhythmic patterns of waves inspired his String Quartet No. 2. In the second half they will be joined by internationally-renowned violist Dimitri Murrath for a transitional quintet in which Beethoven offers glimpses of his later style.
Rolston String Quartet
Luri Lee, Jeffrey Dyrda, violin • Hezekiah Leung, viola • Jonathan Lo, cello
String Quartet in A Major, Op. 41, No. 3
R. MURRAY SCHAFER
String Quartet No. 2 “Waves”
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
String Quintet in C Major, Op. 29
Dimitri Murrath, viola
Composers develop special affections for particular instruments. Chopin, best known for his virtuosic piano oeuvre, composed this rare bit of chamber music as an adolescent. Meanwhile, no composer has demonstrated greater love for the viola as a solo instrument than Paul Hindemith. Tonight, Dimitri Murrath interprets Hindemith’s first of many sonatas for the instrument, a romantically inflected work composed at the age of 24. Carl Maria von Weber, himself inspired by the charismatic virtuoso Heinrich Bärmann, favored the clarinet. Jon Manasse performs Weber’s concerto-like Clarinet Quintet, which blends the composer’s operatic style with instrumental brilliance.
Breton composer Jean Cras led something of a double life: as a composer, particularly of chamber music and song, trained in Paris by Henri Duparc; and as an accomplished officer of the French navy, enabling him to travel the world extensively and imbibe diverse musical influences. These idioms are colorfully explored in his Quintette, especially in its hauntingly beautiful slow movement, and through the vivid plucked textures and swooping gestures of the finale. Finesse cedes to drama in the second part of tonight’s program, with Tchaikovsky’s epic, melodramatic Piano Trio, dedicated to “the memory of a great artist.”
The Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet makes their highly anticipated Bowdoin Festival debut. While remaining Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University, they have spent the past season touring the United States and Europe, collaborating with classical and jazz artists and releasing a recording of Mendelssohn Quartets. Their program opens with the Third String Quartet of Shostakovich, one of the twentieth-century masters of the quartet genre. For the second half, their forces will be doubled for Schubert’s resplendent Octet, the composer’s grandest chamber music work.
Daniel Chong, Ying Xue, violin • Jessica Bodner, viola • Kee-Hyun Kim, cello
String Quartet No. 3 in F Major, Op. 73
The Festival is thrilled to welcome composer Jennifer Higdon for the 2017 season. Her Piano Trio and Light Refracted (to be performed on Friday, July 14th) explore relationships between music, color, and light. With movements titled “Pale Yellow” and “Fiery Red,” Higdon explores the energies and dynamicity of individual colors, much in the manner of a painter. The program continues with Janáček’s whimsical reflection on youth, Mládí, written for the occasion of his 70th birthday, followed by Brahms’s own poignant reflection on age, with the String Quintet, Op. 111, initially conceived as his final composition before retirement.
The Festival is privileged to have Anne Akiko Meyers, one of the world’s leading violin soloists, at the Festival this year. In addition to performances with great orchestras around the globe, her career achievements count thirty-five albums (including the 2014 Billboard Classical top seller), world premieres of compositions by Corigliano, Higdon, and Rautavaara, among many others, and television features including The Tonight Show. Her performances of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra were met with rave reviews. Also on tonight’s program, Jennifer Higdon’s luminous chamber work, and Mozart’s showpiece for oboe, performed by Festival artist James Austin Smith.
Musicians from two of the Festival’s resident quartets join forces for an evening of lush Viennese masterpieces. Mozart’s String Quintet, scored for two violas, exposes a dense texture of inner voices and some of Mozart’s most dark, impassioned chamber music writing. On the second half, Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), is performed in its original scoring for sextet, which highlights the work’s unceasing harmonic tension, alternatingly sumptuous and breathless.
The night begins with a sense of humor: Carl Nielsen’s Serenata in vano (Serenade in Vain) depicts a suitor’s attempt to seduce a loved one outside a balcony. When she fails to materialize, the musicians conclude with a jovial march homeward. To round out the evening’s program, Brahms and Schubert are paired together. Legendary pedagogue and Festival faculty artist Almita Vamos performs Brahms’s final Violin Sonata. The concert continues with Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet, one of the composer’s most lyrical and exuberant chamber works.
Violin Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 108
Almita Vamos, violin • Eugenia Monacelli, piano
“Every culture has its images of paradise,” writes Maine composer Robert Sirota, “all of which include the sights and sounds of birds.” It is from birdsong that Sirota drew inspiration for his 2008 work, performed tonight with faculty artist Linda Chesis. Birds of Paradise is bookended by Ravel’s sensitive tribute to Classical form, and, on the second half, by Schubert’s first grand Piano Trio, among the formidable flood of compositions penned by the composer in his final year.
Douglas Humpherys, piano
The Festival is delighted to welcome back the Jupiter String Quartet this season for their own concert program. Artists-in-residence at the University of Illinois, the Jupiter String Quartet maintains a busy touring schedule across the globe, and has performed complete Beethoven cycles at Aspen and at MIT. Tonight they share their interpretations of early and late Beethoven, and will be joined by pianist Elinor Freer for this season’s freshest composition: Pierre Jalbert’s Piano Quintet, just premiered by the Quartet in March 2017.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 18
Elinor Freer, piano
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
String Quartet No. 12 in E-Flat Major, Op. 127
This week the Festival welcomes Andrew Norman, named Musical America’s 2017 Composer of the Year. Norman’s work frequently demands unconventional techniques of performers, drawing inspiration from narrative forms, temporal distortions, and architecture. Indeed, in Frank’s House, Norman contemplates the residence of architect Frank Gehry, transporting the audience to Santa Monica, California. The evening also features Schumann’s Piano Quartet, composed in 1842, his breakthrough year of chamber music.
It’s not a misprint – tonight, percussionist Luke Rinderknecht will play the flower pots alongside cellist Jeffrey Zeigler in Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw’s work, Boris Kerner, named for a transportation engineer who developed an influential theoretical model for vehicular traffic. Shaw’s composition is aptly juxtaposed with Andrew Norman’s Gran Turismo, inspired in part by traffic flows of another sort: high-speed race cars in video games. On the second half, faculty artist Mikhail Kopelman leads a performance of Brahms’s rich second String Sextet.
Now in their twenty-fifth year as an ensemble, the Borromeo String Quartet continues to set the standard for quartet performance and innovation. Their exciting program opens with Mendelssohn’s String Quartet, Op. 13, a tightly constructed and exquisitely heartfelt work which belies the composer’s young age (18) at its time of composition. Ligeti’s first String Quartet, subtitled Métamorphoses Nocturnes, demonstrates its indebtedness to Bartók, and reflects the composer’s early style before he fled Hungary in 1956. For Schumann’s rousing Piano Quintet, the Quartet are joined by Pei-Shan Lee, who will play the same part composed for Clara Schumann but performed by Felix Mendelssohn at the work’s premiere in 1842.
Nicholas Kitchen, Kristopher Tong, violin • Mai Motobuchi, viola • Yeesun Kim, cello
String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 13
String Quartet No. 1 “Métamorphoses Nocturnes”
Piano Quintet in E-Flat Major, Op. 44
Pei-Shan Lee, piano
Tonight’s program opens with the work of composer, pianist, pedagogue, and scholar Louise Farrenc, a towering musical figure of 19th-century Paris. In addition to her many accomplishments, she fought for equal pay with her male colleagues as the only woman professor at the Paris Conservatoire. Her beautiful Piano Quintet takes up the sonorous instrumentation of Schubert’s Trout Quintet, performed last week. The second half of the program brings to light another forgotten gem, the romantically-inclined Sextet by turn-of-the-century British composer Frank Bridge.
The season closes with a splendid flourish, filling the stage with musicians. Bach’s exhilarating Brandenburg Concerto blends orchestral richness, chamber music intimacy, and soloistic flair into a work that is as fun to play as it is to watch. June Han returns to the stage to share English composer Arnold Bax’s Quintet, and the great Joseph Kalichstein directs and interprets Beethoven’s final magisterial piano concerto, a work he first performed in 1970 and has been performing around the world ever since.
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048
Linda Lee, Jennifer Gersten, Misha Vayman, violin • SoHui Yun, Kunjing Dai, Phillip Ying, viola • So Sugiyama, Roberto Arundale, David Ying, cello • Tao Lin, harpsichord
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat Major, Op. 73 “Emperor”
Joseph Kalichstein, piano and conductor • Festival Orchestra
YOUNG ARTIST SERIES – Concerts by the extraordinary musicians who come to the Festival from music schools in more than twenty-five countries. Studzinski Recital Hall, Bowdoin College.
FESTIVAL INSIGHTS – Lectures, masterclasses, performances, and more. Free admission.
COMMUNITY CONCERTS – Off-site performances featuring a variety of classical repertoire.
GAMPER FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC – The Charles E. Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music represents a sustained commitment to nurturing and promoting the music of our time. July 27, 29, 30, 7:30 PM. Studzinski Recital Hall, Bowdoin College.
STUDIO CLASSES – A gathering of an instructor and their students for an opportunity to play on stage for their peers.
SCHOLARSHIP GALA – With your support, the Festival can continue to train gifted young musicians and present superb classical music to Maine communities and beyond. June 27, 6:00 PM, Bowdoin College. Reservations Required.