Yellow Barn launches annual music festival

PUTNEY-Yellow Barn's 55th Summer Festival is underway. Spanning five weeks, the festival offers 20 concerts performed by new and returning members of its international family of musicians.

New this year will be a children's concert on Thursday, July 18; a conversation about music with celebrated composer-in-residence Jörg Widmann; and a gala performance at the Retreat Farm on Saturday, July 13.

This season, Widmann returns for his fourth summer as composer-in-residence. During his residency week (July 30–Aug. 4), audiences can hear the complete cycle of Widmann's five Beethoven quartets in programs that include many of his influences, such as Beethoven's string quartet, Op.127, and "Grosse fuge."

On Monday, July 29, Widmann will present "Musikliebe," a 90-minute talk and musical exploration for performers and listeners alike.

Continuing that theme will be the introduction of side-by-side concerts this year. The musicians' loft is a beloved element of the Big Barn, and one carried over from the original performance barn. Longtime audience members still reminisce about the musicians' legs dangling from the loft of the old barn.

On Thursday nights, audience members and musicians will sit side-by-side throughout the hall, with audience members welcome in the loft and musicians, in the hall. All Thursday night concerts are free at Yellow Barn, a tradition started last year in memory of beloved Putney resident and Yellow Barn advocate Eva Mondon.

Each year, approximately 500 musicians audition for Yellow Barn in 12 cities across the United States, Canada, Europe, and the U.K. Forty are selected to participate with 28 internationally renowned faculty members. Over five weeks, they explore more than 100 pieces of chamber music on campus and bring every piece to the Big Barn for a performance.

One participating musician once wrote of her experience: "A passing suggestion lingers and blossoms into artistic inspiration, a lunchtime conversation leads to a deep friendship. Friends become colleagues, teachers become friends, bends in the road become clear paths. The spark of discovery, once renewed, remains fresh. In fact, looking back at the last six years of my life, nearly all of the most impactful elements had their origins in this place."

Full programs are available online at All concerts take place in the Big Barn, an accessible, 75-seat jewel-box concert hall with comfortable seating and air conditioning. Ice cream and blueberries are served at intermission, just as they have been since Yellow Barn's founding in 1969. For tickets and information, call 802-387-6637.

This Arts item was submitted to The Commons.

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