Yellow Barn kicks off 50th season this weekend

BRATTLEBORO — Yellow Barn kicks off its 50th-anniversary season this weekend with a concert Friday evening, followed by a master class, pre-concert discussion, and concert on Saturday. The opening-weekend programs explore the interaction of voices, both human and instrumental, introducing a theme that appears throughout the 2019 season.

On July 5, Yellow Barn's golden celebration begins with the world premiere of Christopher Theofanidis' Speak Music - a 50th birthday present for Yellow Barn.

O'Rourke (Lucy Shelton, soprano) by contemporary Irish composer Andrew Hamilton follows, along with Haydn's virtuosic Piano Trio in E Major, Hob.XV:28 (Gilbert Kalish, piano; Donald Weilerstein, violin) and Mozart's Concerto for Piano and String Quartet (Peter Frankl, piano).

The first half of the program ends with a rare performance of the Chaconne from Violin Partita No. 2 in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach.

The second half consists of Eric Nathan's song cycle, Some Favored Nook (Gilbert Kalish; William Sharp, baritone). Set in Civil War-era America, the cycle is inspired by the correspondence between Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, which spanned more than two decades.

Saturday, July 6, begins with one of the most popular events of the season, a master class by Gilbert Kalish, one of America's foremost pianists and a respected music pedagogue.

Kalish, joined by pianist Sophiko Simsive, will lead a pre-concert discussion later that evening on the topic of Stravinsky's riot-inducing The Rite of Spring, which the pair will perform at Saturday's concert. Moderated by Artistic Director Seth Knopp, the discussion will explore the “seasons” woven throughout the summer's programming. The pre-concert discussion will take place at the Putney Public Library at 7 p.m.

In addition to The Rite of Spring, Saturday evening's concert features Debussy's Danses sacrée et profane (Sacred and Profane Dances).

This juxtaposition of the Debussy and Stravinsky presents an opportunity to hear the different ways in which the concepts of “ritual” and “revolt” can be expressed musically. The second half of the program begins with an exploration of rhythmic modulation in Elliott Carter's piece for solo timpani, Saëta (Arrow), which is based on an Andalusian song.

A vocal-instrumental suite by Dmitri Shostakovich follows (Lucy Shelton, soprano; Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, piano), inspired by verses of Russian poet Alexander Blok. The evening concludes with an unusual gem, Chemin du coeur (The Heart's Path) by Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi.

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