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The Jons Salute Cape Cod Summer  

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The Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival’s ten performances in three weeks in five venues across Cape Cod have become one of the region’s largest cultural events, attracting thousands of concertgoers. Each week is anchored by back-to-back concerts by today’s leading string quartets: Borromeo, Ying, and Escher. Other Festival highlights include a free jazz concert, the Cape Cod debut of Tangent Winds, and more. The complete schedule is HERE.

Upon reading the brochure for the 45th-anniversary Festival season, I don’t detect any overarching theme to this season’s programming, but you are clearly true to your mission of presenting “the finest classical and contemporary chamber music by both world-class ensembles and exceptional young emerging artists to Cape Cod audiences…and to broaden and deepen appreciation of the chamber music art form. Am I missing any connective elements in the choices of works? 

The  Jons: Although there was not a concerted effort to create an over-arching theme with repertoire, we did draw from many styles and eras to create programs with variety, coherence and appeal. A sub-theme to the season, however, is the broad experience of Family: Favorite Festival artists who have returned for many years, the relationships we have with our audiences both returning and new, and this year even a concert featuring musicians from the same family! 

FLE: Audiences (as well as this writer) are very fond of the Ying, Escher, and the Borromeo Quartets (playing for the 34th time). It’s also good news that the Jons will be collaborating with all three (and the new wind group as well. Tell me about the collaborative rep. 

With the Escher Quartet each Jon plays a work which has become a cornerstone of the repertoire: The Fauré Piano Quartet No. 1 and Brahms’s monumental Clarinet Quintet. We are looking forward to performing these works with our Escher friends in particular, as we have so enjoyed our artistic partnership for years.  Jon N will also be performing Brahms’s First Piano Quartet with members of the Ying Quartet on August 4th in a special benefit concert at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod in South Yarmouth. 

And all those beautiful white Cape Cod Meeting Houses. Do they all sound as good as they look? And is the air conditioning working in Wellfleet this summer? 

One of the great benefits of our summer Festival is hearing music in even more intimate environments than one might encounter during the regular concert season.  The acoustics in each venue are unique and ideal for this repertoire, which thrives on the audiences’ perception of detail, nuance and finesse. In some venues, where our audiences are seated at such close proximity to the performers, the music can be experienced in the most visceral way possible. And we on stage feel like the audiences are an inseparable part of the performance.

all photos are the property of Carla Bohnett and CB Photo Design Studio

Is there good augury that the young Tangent Winds will emerge as significant exponents of their genre?

The Festival has a long history of presenting young talent at the beginning of extraordinary careers: names like Emmanuel Ax, Joshua Bell and Itzhak Perlman are but a few… We hope the same for our Tangent Winds colleagues!

How long ago have the Jons been in charge and what advice and mentoring did you get from Nick Kitchen? 

The first season we programmed as Artistic Directors was in 2007. Typically, when an artistic directorship is passed from hand to hand, a mutual respect and distance is maintained that allows the incoming personnel to build upon past traditions and simultaneously find new direction. Jon Manasse was initially introduced both to the Cape and to the Borromeo String Quartet by the founding Artistic Director Samuel Sanders in the earliest days of the Festival. The mentoring aspect was one built more of presence, support, collegiality and continuity. 

Do we need to plan ahead? How often do you sell out?

Prior to the Covid shutdowns, many of our concerts and events did sell out—some well in advance of the concert dates. Today, we are consistently rebuilding toward that goal and therefore encourage people to buy tickets early!

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