IN: News & Features

Three More Summer Festivals


Charlemont Federated Church
Charlemont Federated Church

Tanglewood and the Newport Music Festival are well known; Mohawk Trails Concerts is new to us. Tanglewood, founded in 1940, and Newport, founded in 1968, offer many concerts, not only in the evenings, but throughout the day, with a variety of times, programs, and venues.  Mohawk Trails Concerts, located in Charlemont, MA, offers a far smaller series but very high-quality, unusual programming. All three venues lend themselves to a one-day trip — albeit some of them for those hardy enough to drive back to the Hub “after hours.”

Tanglewood Music Festival

The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood has held up well under a very trying couple of months, with cancellations and consequent rescheduling.  The San Francisco Symphony’s Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas was available to fill in during the opening week, from July 9. Thomas, many readers will remember, was assistant conductor, then principal guest conductor at the BSO and started the Spectrum Concerts, one of the earliest efforts to explain the music to an audience before commencing the pieces. He will conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” with Layla Claire and Stephanie Blyth. All three artists got a big boost from Tanglewood early in their careers; they were once Fellows.

The Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra is also an early prestigious training-ground for this generation’s future professional musicians. Concerts, held regularly in Ozawa Hall, are more numerous and start earlier this year; the first, under Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, is on July 5, four days before the official opening of the Tanglewood season. The smaller Ozawa Hall is ideal for chamber groups, vocal recitals, and other smaller ensembles. Many concerts are scheduled on the weekdays there, and local hotels offer much less expensive accommodations.

Tilson Thomas will also conduct the BSO on July 16 and 17. The other worthy conducting substitutions include Rafael Frühbeck de Burghos (already on tap for the all-Mozart program on July 11 with Pinchas Zukerman), for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Piano Concert No. 3, with Gerhard Oppitz on July 10; Canadian Opera Company Music Director Johannes Debus, in his BSO debut, for Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, on July 23; Hans Graf, Music Director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, for the Viennese Strauss family’s music on July 25; and Christoph von Dohnányi for the staged Tanglewood Music Center production of Strauss’s Ariadne aux Naxos on August 1 and 2. Herbert Blomstedt is scheduled to conduct an all-Brahms program with pianist Peter Serkin for Seiji Ozawa, who also is recovering from recent surgery. Juanjo Mena is the recently announced conductor for the Berg, Strauss, and Mahler concert with soprano Hei-Kyung Hong on July 31. The Spanish-born conductor is Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, a post he has held since 1999.

Eagerly anticipated is the single-only performance on July 21 of Benjamin Bagley’s Beowulf for harp and voice; Bagley will sing it in its original Old English (with supertitles in modern English). Music of more than 30 composers, Tanglewood’s composition faculty from the past 70 years, will be heard at this year’s Festival of Contemporary Music, which runs from August 12 through August 16.  The festival is under the artistic direction of Gunther Schuller, Oliver Knussen, and John Harbison — three of those composers.

One way to spend a weekend in Tanglewood is to get there in time for the Friday evening concert at Ozawa Hall, usually at 6 p.m., have a picnic, then go to the performance in the Shed. If staying for the Sunday afternoon program is a problem, there is the rehearsal in the Shed on Saturday morning. Often, such stars as the BSO’s Robert Kirzinger talk about the program. (Your correspondent is doing just that on July 9, returning to make the Marc-André Hamelin concert at Rockport on Sunday evening.)

The  article here, written for Berkshire Review in mid-June, is an excellent discussion of Tanglewood by one of our reviewer-correspondents , Michael Miller. One proviso: please refer to our Upcoming Events for more up-to-date information on concert schedules.

Newport Music Festival

The Newport Festival in Newport, Rhode Island, offers good concerts in some of the most opulent “summer cottages” in the United States, primarily on Bellevue Avenue.  The tight schedule in this 42nd season offers an impressive 65 concerts, from three to five a day, in just in two weeks in July (9-25). The multiple  daily offerings are morning concerts at 11 a.m., afternoons usually at 4 p.m. and evenings at The Breakers, the queen of the Newport mansions, at 9 p.m. Occasional midnight concerts feature one-hour intermission-free works with champagne receptions beforehand.

Season-long tributes to the bicentenaries of composers Frédéric Chopin and Robert Schumann will feature their enduring music. Chopin works will be presented in entirety by Hungarian pianist Gergely Bogànyi every day at 11 a.m. from July 9 through July 19, except for Saturday, July 17, when he will perform the  Liszt Transcendental Etudes for the 9 p.m. Saturday evening concert at the Breakers. Bogànyi won the International Franz Liszt Competition in Budapest in 1996 at age 22, and in 2004 he became one of the youngest pianists ever to win the Kossuth Prize.

Schumann will be presented in seven concerts, and “Scarlattiana” in four, with Italian pianist Carlo Grante.

On July 10, Newport will present “All in the Family”; what was to have been the 80th birthday celebration for Mark P. Malkovich II, artistic director for the past 36 years, is now a tribute to Mr. Malkovich, who died in a car accident this spring. The performers are three generations of the Davidovich/Sitkovetsky family and include the American debut of soprano Julia Sitkovetsky,

Other scheduled performers include Argentinean organist Hector Olivera; violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky and pianist Konstantin Lifschitz; and Jirí Bárta, Daniel del Pino, Eugene Tzikindelean and Grigorios Zampara. On July 18, Newport is presenting what is calls its “Connoisseur Concert—Festival homage to music aficianados, featuring Rachmaninoff’s weighty Cello Sonata, a Mendelssohn Concerto and I Barocci!”

Mohawk Trail Concerts

Surely one of the most appealing, jaunty, apt logos for a music festival is that of Mohawk Trails Concerts, a two-time winner of ASCAP’s Chamber Music America National Award for Adventurous Programming. Concerts are given in the Federated Church at Charlemont, a small town halfway between Greenfield and North Adams on Route 2 (there following the Mohawk Trail). Started in 1970 (shame on us for not knowing of it), it is now under artistic direction of Ruth M. Black and Abba Bogin.

The five offerings of its 41st season, on Fridays and repeated on Saturdays in July, focus on American Masterpieces — “Three centuries of American Genius, and The Legacy of Chamber Music with Chopin & Schumann, 200th, Albeniz 150th Anniversaries.” (As I write this, I note the imminent passing of one I would have gone to hear, had I known: Barber’s Dover Beach with baritone David McFerrin.) On July 9 and 10, Bolcom and Morris are presenting American Classics, “Film, Theater and Cabaret from Ragtime to Rock ‘n Roll” which some readers may have been fortunate enough to hear in Boston this spring. This presentation adds a performance by Duo Parnas of Bolcom’s Suite for Violin and Cello.

The July 16 and 17 concert features a premiere of Lost and Found, a duo for viola and percussion, by Kenji Bunch, who will be there for the Saturday performance. Here’s an opportunity also to hear a slew of unfamiliar works by Krakauer, Bermel, and Rao, with Glass and Ravel. Albeniz is featured in the July 23/24 program; the final one highlights Chopin, with Ives’s Trio for Piano, Violin, and Cello (1904, revised in 1911) and songs by Gottschalk with soprano Maria Ferrante.

Check BMInt’s Upcoming Events for full listings.


3 Comments [leave a civil comment (others will be removed) and please disclose relevant affiliations]

  1. Yes, this is a treasure! Fine music in a lovely air-conditioned sanctuary built in 1845 with stained glass windows created by a student of Tiffany. The particularly fine acoustics create the perfect space to hear such quality music.

    Comment by Cara B. Hochhalter — July 5, 2010 at 1:40 pm

  2. More of the unusual!! The Newman-Oltman Guitar Duo have created an inspired new arrangement adding story readings from McCourt’s `Angela’s Ashes’to precede each movement of Laments and Dances from the Irish, the work they commissioned and recorded in 1989. July 23/24 will bring Vincent Dowling, actor/director and founder of Massachusetts Chester Miniature Theater to the rôle of storyteller, performed until last year by author the late Frank McCourt.

    Comment by Ruth Black — July 6, 2010 at 6:53 am

  3. We have been informed by Mohawk Music that composer Kenji Bunch will be at the Friday, July 16, performance only, and not the Saturday performance, as stated in the article. The premiere of his piece, Lost and Found, will be played at both concerts.

    Comment by Bettina A. Norton — July 10, 2010 at 2:18 pm

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