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Return to Goshen For Jazz Under the Stars

The Music Scene

The Litchfield Jazz Festival returns this weekend for its 17th season, and this year it moves back to its former home, the Goshen Fairgrounds, where the main stage will be housed in a large tent.
The festival features a wall-to-wall profusion of jazz superstars, among whom I can pick out but a handful to highlight.

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Let’s Hear It From Saint-Saëns

The Music Scene

Camille Saint-Saëns – the French Romantic composer who is the subject of this year’s Bard Music Festival, “Saint-Saëns and His World” – is one of the most enigmatic figures in music.
A long-lived and prolific composer, he might be surprised, were he alive today, to note how few of his pieces have entered the standard repertoire. A symphony, an opera, some tone poems (including the familiar “Danse Macabre”), and the perennial children’s favorite, “Carnival of the Animals,” are nearly all of a much larger output that gets regularly played in concert halls.

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The Celts Are Coming, Hurrah!

The Music Scene

My love affair with Celtic music began more than 30 years ago in a small church on Long Island, where the rising band, Silly Wizard, came to play.
That toe-tappingly infectious, virtuoso group of Scots — lead vocalist Andy M. Stewart, Phil Cunningham on accordion and his brother Johnny on fiddle, Martin Hadden on bass and keyboards, and Gordon Jones on guitar and bodhran (the handheld Celtic drum) — went on to become one of the greatest Celtic ensembles of all time.

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Beautiful and Rarely Heard

The Music Scene

Next weekend, Bard SummerScape continues with a little-known opera by the French Romantic composer Emmanuel Chabrier, “Le Roi Malgre Lui” — literally, “The King in Spite of Himself,” though perhaps more accurately “The Reluctant King.”
Bringing unjustly neglected works to light has been a specialty of SummerScape and its musical director, Bard College President Leon Botstein. The musical canon can be narrow, circling back to the small number of “greats” while leaving a lot of first-rate compositions untouched.

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Making Beautiful Music . . . And Maybe Changing the World, As Well

The Music Scene
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Ruben Rengel does not remember a time he did not play violin. That’s because he started at age 2, on a 1/16th-size instrument. It’s 14 years later, now, and he plays with aplomb and beauty (but unusual style, holding the violin under his chin rather than his jaw, the way his teacher does and tells him not to). He is from Venezuela’s famous El Sistema, the Chavez government-supported program teaching thousands of children to play classical music. And change the world, too.

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Baroque Is Back, New As Ever

The Music Scene

When Doug Myers was a music student, he dreamed of becoming “the Maurice André of the French Horn.”
André, the master French trumpeter who died earlier this year, almost singlehandedly brought much of the Baroque repertoire to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s through his use of the piccolo trumpet, a diminutive instrument invented at the turn of the 20th century that plays an octave above the standard trumpet — allowing it to soar into the higher realms of Bach, Handel and other Baroque composers.

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Beethoven, a Bass and a Bell

The Music Scene

The granddaddy of grand summer music festivals in the Berkshires, Tanglewood, celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. The summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra was put on the map by Serge Koussevitzky and has been going strong ever since.
The season opens on Friday, July 6, with an all-Beethoven concert led by Christoph von Dohnanyi, himself a renowned conductor who spent 20 years as director of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra.

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Chamber Music Returns to Hotchkiss

The Music Scene

Pianist Melvin Chen is artistic director of the Portals chamber music series at The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT. This is clearly one of our backyard gems.
Chen has assembled an adventurous lineup that runs the gamut from Bach to contemporary composers.
The Portals programs have a wide variety of formats and groupings including a Hotchkiss faculty vocal ensemble, a church choir, a small chamber orchestra and a piano duo.
Here are a few choice morsels from among these intriguing programs:

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Breathing New Life Into Chamber Music

The Music Scene

Paul McCartney isn’t the only celebrity musician who turns 70 this summer. The man many call the world’s greatest clarinetist, Richard Stoltzman, will perform at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, less than a week shy of his 70th birthday.
The two-time Grammy winner talks like someone half his age, full of the joy of music and discovery, not a hint of a celebrity’s world-weariness. Reminiscences come easily.

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The World of Music . . . Atop Music Mountain

The Music Scene

This is just a wild guess, but Nicholas Gordon must be, or must have been, a heck of a tennis player. The long-time director of the Music Mountain Summer Music Festival in Falls Village will tell you why he’s proud to have had his programming called “deeply conservative” by The New Yorker magazine; what is different about this season (its 83rd); how Shostakovich made it into the core chamber music repertory; and that a Music Mountain radio broadcast might be heard in, oh, Mongolia, perhaps.

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