PUTNEY—On Friday, July 6, The Big Barn opens its doors for the opening weekend of Yellow Barn’s 49th anniversary season with evening concerts on Friday and Saturday, plus a Saturday morning masterclass and Saturday evening discussion.
Opening with Handel’s Concerto Grosso in D Major, the first concert of the festival is a playful exploration of sonic connections between composers from varying time periods and countries, whose personal lives with music span a great distance.
Two pieces by John Cage follow the Handel, resulting in an unexpected view of the avant-garde Cage.
Cage’s 44 Harmonies from Apartment House 1776 evoke a chorale, sonically linking to Kurtág’s Játékok Games and J.S. Bach Transcriptions, which appears on the second half.
The program also includes Morton Feldman’s Structures for String Quartet, Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Shades of Silence, and George Enescu’s Impressions d’enfance for piano and violin (Donald Weilerstein and Vivian Hornik Weilerstein).
The Saturday night concert opens with the North American premiere of Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Ballad for Harp and Strings, a dream-filled work that transports the listener to another world.
Maurice Ravel’s Chansons madécasses (Madagascan Songs) for soprano (Lucy Shelton), flute, cello, and piano follows, along with Liza Lim’s Love Letter, a piece that instructs players to write a letter to their “beloved,” and then “transpose the letters of each word into rhythmic information including silences.”
The first half concludes with Robert Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70, of which Schumann’s wife Clara remarked: “The piece is splendid, fresh and passionate, just as I like it!”
The second half features Johannes Brahms’ Waltzes, Op. 39 for piano four-hands (Peter Frankl and Gilbert Kalish), followed by Gustav Mahler’s heart wrenching and romantic Songs of a Wayfarer.
The program concludes with Cage’s Experiences No. 2, again bringing the composer into a new light (baritone William Sharp). The piece was composed for a production of dancer Merce Cunningham’s choreographed piece Experiences. The text of Cage’s piece comes from poet e.e. cummings’ Tulips and Chimneys.
On Saturdays, pre-concert discussions give audiences the opportunity to join the musical conversation that takes place among Yellow Barn musicians and gain insight into the evening’s program.
On opening weekend, new music champion and longtime Yellow Barn faculty pianist Gilbert Kalish and Artistic Director Seth Knopp will lead a discussion about the evening’s program. Saturday night discussions take place at 7 p.m. in the Putney Public Library.
Yellow Barn’s opening weekend also includes a piano master class by Gilbert Kalish on Saturday, July 7, at 10:30 a.m. Yellow Barn’s master classes have become mainstays of the festival, giving music enthusiasts and educators the opportunity to experience first-hand the festival’s unique approach to the work and inspiration that comes from chamber music study.