Pianists Stephen Hough, Michelle Cann, and Brad Mehldau; Baroque Music from English Concert; Two World Premieres; and Roots, Jazz, Broadway and More Highlight Caramoor’s 2021-22 Fall-Spring Season (Oct 1–May 22)
With expanding audiences and a lineup that continues to go from strength to strength each summer, Caramoor also remains a hub for musical and artistic exploration all year round. The 2021–22 Fall-Spring season, presented indoors amid the paintings dating from the 16th century, terra cotta reliefs, and authentic Renaissance furniture of the historical Rosen House Music Room, is highlighted by three outstanding pianists: distinguished British classical virtuoso Stephen Hough (Nov 14), “exquisite” (Philadelphia Inquirer) Florence Price champion Michelle Cann (March 20), and influential jazz pianist and composer Brad Mehldau (April 14). Celebrated period-instrument ensemble The English Concert performs an all-Vivaldi program, led from the harpsichord by Artistic Director Harry Bicket (Nov 19). The Grammy-nominated and consistently critically acclaimed Danish String Quartet performs in the spring (April 22), and the Callisto Quartet, serving as Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence for another fall and spring to compensate for missed opportunities during the pandemic, gives two performances that include world premieres commissioned by the quartet from rising young composers (Nov 7 & April 3). Also showcased are the other two mentorship programs through which Caramoor serves as an incubator for exceptional young talent: the Evnin Rising Stars (Oct 31), and the Schwab Vocal Rising Stars (March 13). Other roots, jazz, and cabaret artists include genre-crossing guitarist and singer Raul Midón (Oct 1), a special benefit performance by Grammy winner Sarah Jarosz (Dec 4), the Isaiah J. Thompson Quartet (Oct 15), sublime jazz vocalist Jazzmeia Horn (April 30), and a benefit performance by Broadway favorite Kate Baldwin, who sings music from the American Songbook (Oct 23). Expanded family programming this season includes a special free afternoon of music and dance on three stages to celebrate Día de Muertos (Oct 24) and a spring performance by Grammy Award-winning children’s performer Dan Zanes and his wife, jazz vocalist Claudia Zanes (May 22).
Looking ahead to the fall and spring season, Edward J. Lewis III, Caramoor’s new President and CEO, explains:
“We’re thrilled to continue live in-person music performances with our 2021–22 Fall–Spring season. We’ve curated a vibrant genre-spanning program of established masters and emerging artists; education programs that mentor the next generation of musical stars; and multicultural, sensory-friendly family events that invite everyone to enjoy the music. I hope you’ll join us.”
Lauded by The Guardian for “the most perfect piano playing conceivable” and by the Washington Post as “a virtuoso who begins where others leave off,” British pianist, composer, and writer Stephen Hough plays a recital comprising Chopin’s Nocturne in F-sharp and Scherzo in B-flat minor, Schumann’s Kreisleriana, the Bagatelles by 20th-century British composer Alan Rawsthorne, and the pianist’s own Partita. In a career stretching over more than three decades, Hough – the first classical performer to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship – has recorded more than 50 albums, many of which have garnered international prizes including the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, Diapason d’Or, several Grammy nominations, Gramophone’s “Record of the Year” Award in both 1996 and 2003, and, in 2008, the “Gold Disc” Award from the same publication, which chose his complete Saint-Saëns Piano Concertos as the single best recording of the past 30 years.
Pianist Michelle Cann made her orchestral debut at age fourteen and has been sought after as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician ever since. A champion of the music of Florence Price, in 2019 Cann joined the Thalea String Quartet at Caramoor for a sextet arrangement of the composer’s Piano Concerto. This past spring, Cann gave the Philadelphia premiere of Price’s Concerto in One Movement with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, before reprising the same piece with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Festival on the Fourth of July. Now the pianist makes her Caramoor solo debut with two more works by Price – the composer’s Sonata in E minor and Fantasie Nègre No. 1 – on a program with works by Chopin, Brahms, and Margaret Bonds.
Brad Mehldau – called “the most influential jazz pianist of the last 20 years” (The New York Times) – performs an intimate solo concert next spring in the Music Room. An improviser first and foremost, Mehldau also has a deep fascination for the formal architecture of music, and the interplay between the two gives his performances their unique quality of controlled chaos. His starry list of frequent collaborators has included saxophonist Joshua Redman and mandolinist Chris Thile, among many others, and he has recorded his own songs with soprano Renée Fleming and mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter. He was the first jazz artist to be in residence at Carnegie Hall as holder of the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair, and his long string of accolades includes many Grammy nominations, a host of Downbeat Readers’ Poll wins in multiple categories, the Miles Davis Award at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, and Germany’s ECHO Music Prize.
Early music and a cappella vocal music
Period-instrument ensemble The English Concert, led from the harpsichord by Harry Bicket, performs an all-Vivaldi program from the composer’s string concerto collection L’estro armónico. Founded in 1972 by Trevor Pinnock CBE, the pioneering chamber orchestra was one of the first devoted to playing 18th- and early 19th-century music on period instruments. Today, with an award-winning discography of more than 100 titles and live performances that are “wonderfully in tune with the fire, fantasy and dancing lightness of the music” (Chicago Tribune), the English Concert is justly recognized as one of the world’s leading exponents of Baroque and early Classical repertoire. The ensemble returns to Caramoor this season for the first time since its 2018 debut.
Caramoor rings in the holiday season with New York Polyphony, the a cappella vocal quartet known for a “rich, natural sound that’s larger and more complex than the sum of its parts” (NPR). The group returns to the Music Room for two performances of “Sing Thee Nowell,” a program of sacred Christmas music spanning seven centuries. The Rosen House, festively decorated for the holidays, will be open for tours before each performance.
Chamber music and young artist programs
The Grammy-nominated Danish String Quartet – “one of the best quartets before the public today” (Washington Post) – performs a uniquely constructed program that begins with Britten’s Three Divertimenti and ends with Schubert’s beloved “Death and the Maiden” quartet. In between those poles is what the group calls An Alleged Suite of curated dances, inspired by John Adams’s John’s Book of Alleged Dances, from which three of the movements are taken. Included are a traditional Nordic polska, two pieces by Charpentier, three by Adams, and a Sarabande by Russian composer and Rimsky-Korsakov protégé Felix Blumenfeld.
Praised for their “intensity and bravado” (Third Coast Review), the Callisto Quartet continues its Ernst Stiefel residency this season with two appearances, both spotlighting emerging composers and new works inspired by canonical classics. In the fall the quartet performs the world premiere of a new work by Cleveland composer Nathaniel Heyder, bookended by Mozart’s B-flat-major “Hunt” quartet and Brahms’s Third String Quartet in B-flat, which was modeled on the Mozart in terms of key, time signature, pastoral qualities and sense of joy in life and nature. The Callistos commissioned Heyder to write his work as a new addition to this lineage. Then, on its spring program, the quartet performs another world premiere, commissioned from young Detroit composer Harriet Steinke. On the same program are Beethoven’s Op. 132 quartet in A minor and Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 2, which shares with the Beethoven not only a key but the themes of introspection, suffering and deliverance. Steinke was likewise commissioned to build on these pieces and concepts as the basis for her new work.
Caramoor’s chamber music mentorship program, Evnin Rising Stars, will be led this season by a Guest Artistic Director, cellist Marcy Rosen, a longtime member of the Mendelssohn String Quartet. Rosen has invited violinist and violist Daniel Phillips of the Orion Quartet to help her mentor and perform alongside five young instrumentalists in a concluding concert of masterworks by Mozart, Bridge, and Schumann.
Led by Artistic Director Steven Blier, the emerging singers of Caramoor’s Schwab Vocal Rising Stars program take part in a creatively curated spring showcase titled “Love Songs in 176 Keys: 4 hands, 4 voices, 4 countries.” Four young singers and a pianist selected by Blier will participate in a week of daily coaching, rehearsals, and workshops, culminating in their Music Room performance.
Jazz and American Roots
Continuing Caramoor’s ongoing Roots music collaboration with City Winery, guitarist and vocalist Raul Midón performs a solo show in the Music Room this fall. Praised by The Guardian for “a beautifully controlled baritone that can express anything from tenderness to passion,” Midón is also known for a virtuosic guitar technique that defies easy categorization. With eleven studio albums as a solo artist and two Grammy nominations to his credit, he has collaborated with such legendary names as Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, and Bill Withers, as well as contributing to records by Queen Latifah and Snoop Dogg and to the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s She Hate Me. The New York Times has called him “a one-man band who turns a guitar into an orchestra and his voice into a chorus.”
Returning favorite and four-time Grammy winner Sarah Jarosz, who has performed at Caramoor both solo and, with Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan, as part of the supergroup I’m With Her, lends her captivating voice and richly detailed songwriting to a special benefit concert that supports Music Room programming throughout the year. Now just 30, Jarosz released her full-length album debut at 18. Her latest Grammy win, for 2020’s World on the Ground, was in the category of Best Americana Album, and she has already released a follow-up, a recording of her song cycle Blue Heron Suite, which she wrote after receiving the FreshGrass Composition Commission and premiered at the FreshGrass Festival in Massachusetts in 2017.
Isaiah J. Thompson, winner of the 2018 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award and second place winner of the 2018 Thelonious Monk (now Herbie Hancock) Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition, performs with his quartet in the Music Room this fall. The young pianist, bandleader and composer from West Orange, New Jersey was admitted to Juilliard at 18 and graduated with a master’s degree in 2020, the year that also marked the release of his debut album as a leader, Isaiah J. Thompson Plays the Music of Buddy Montgomery.
Two-time Grammy nominated vocalist Jazzmeia Horn – winner of both the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition and the 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition, and a performer in Caramoor’s 2016 Jazz Festival – gives a Music Room performance presented in collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center that showcases songs of striking musicality, emotional power, and social relevance. Named Jazzmeia by her piano-playing, jazz-loving grandmother, Horn has earned accolades around the world with her unique spin on the jazz tradition, touched by hints of R&B and hip-hop.
Cabaret: Kate Baldwin
Tony Award-nominated Broadway and cabaret vocalist Kate Baldwin makes her Caramoor debut with a benefit performance of music from the American Songbook. Nominated for multiple Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critic’s Circle awards, three of which recognize her portrayal of Irene Molloy opposite Bette Midler in the 2017 revival of Hello, Dolly!, Baldwin also counts Finian’s Rainbow, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Giant, and Big Fish among her Broadway credits. The performance will be followed by a reception.
Caramoor expands its family programming this season, beginning with a special outdoor three-stage music and dance celebration of Día de Muertos on October 24. In collaboration with Mexico Beyond Mariachi, the afternoon includes several traditional and regional dance performances around Caramoor’s grounds, leading to a Friends Field event with all of the artists. Crafts and snacks will be available, and the event is appropriate for all ages.
The beloved holiday tradition of Santa’s Visit to the Rosen House resumes this year on December 12, when Santa makes his appearance at a concert of holiday favorites. Milk and cookies will be served in the cloisters, and the event will take place at both 12:00pm and 3:00pm.
Grammy Award-winning children’s performer Dan Zanes and Haitian-American music therapist and jazz vocalist Claudia Zanes will give an all-ages, sensory-friendly concert in the Spanish Courtyard next spring (May 22). Now married, the two have been making music together since meeting in 2016, sharing both a commitment to accessibility and a joy in making music for children.
Every day from December 15 through December 19, Caramoor will also resume its Holiday Tea Musicales, with music, festive decorations, and tea service in the Music Room. Finger sandwiches, holiday treats, and a variety of teas (as well as hot chocolate with marshmallows for the little ones) will be served.
Caramoor is a cultural arts destination located on a unique 80-plus-acre estate with Italianate architecture and gardens in Northern Westchester County, NY. Its beautiful grounds include the historic Rosen House, built between 1929 and 1939, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Besides enriching the lives of its audiences through innovative and diverse musical performances of the highest quality, Caramoor mentors young professional musicians and provides music-centered educational programs for young children. Getting to Caramoor is simple by car or public transportation. All parking is free and close to the performance areas. Handicapped parking is also free and readily available. By car from New York City, take the Henry Hudson Parkway north to the Saw Mill River Parkway north to I-684 north to Exit 6. Go east on Route 35 to the traffic light (0.3 miles). Turn right onto Route 22 south, and travel 1.9 miles to the junction of Girdle Ridge Road where there is a green Caramoor sign. At the junction, veer left and make a quick right onto Girdle Ridge Road. Continue on Girdle Ridge Road 0.5 miles to the Caramoor gates on the right. Approximate drive time is one hour. By train from Grand Central Station, take the Harlem Division Line of the Metro-North Railroad heading to Southeast, and exit at Katonah. Caramoor is a 3.5-mile drive from the Katonah station, where taxi service is available.
Caramoor has been committed to public health and safety since the start of the pandemic, and the 2021 festival has been designed in accordance with all the latest state and federal guidelines. Updated COVID protocols for the fall/spring indoor concert season can be found here.