Expanded New-Music Offerings in Caramoor’s 73rd Summer Season Include Two World Premieres, Three Festival Debuts, and Two New Sound Art Installations (June 16–July 29)
June 13, 2018
Long known as a bucolic destination for classical, American roots and jazz music, this summer Caramoor renews its commitment to presenting contemporary music as well, with two world premieres, three festival debuts, and an eclectic array of today’s most talked-about composers and performers highlighting the expanded new-music offerings. Iconic new-music ensembles Kronos Quartet and Sō Percussion make their Caramoor debuts, with the latter concert including a world premiere by Vijay Iyer. John Luther Adams’s monumental out-of-doors percussion piece Inuksuit, featuring 60+ musicians, will be the highlight of a free day of events taking place throughout the grounds. Brooklyn orchestral collective The Knights returns to Caramoor with new music by Judd Greenstein and Andy Akiho, and the New York premiere of a work by Matthew Aucoin is given by the resident Orchestra of St. Luke’s. The Verona Quartet, the 2017–18 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence, plays the world premiere of a Caramoor commission from composer Julia Adolphe. The Jasper String Quartet plays music of Ted Hearne and Missy Mazzoli, and Lincoln Center “Emerging Artist” Michael Brown plays a solo piano recital that includes his own composition in tribute to Leonard Bernstein. Finally, peerless San Francisco-based male vocal group Chanticleer makes its Caramoor debut with a program ranging from the Renaissance to the present. All these new-music events take place during the 73rd summer season (June 16–July 29) on Caramoor’s historic Westchester estate, which offers 90 acres of picturesque Italianate architecture and gardens — as well as two new sound art installations from artists Walter Kitundu and Paula Matthusen — just one hour’s drive from Manhattan. Making broader use of Caramoor’s exquisite campus than ever before, the summer offerings give day-trippers the perfect pastoral escape from the city, in what The New York Times dubs “bucolic, picnic-friendly settings with a programming philosophy that balances hedonism and exploration.”
For more than 40 years, San Francisco’s Kronos Quartet — David Harrington (violin), John Sherba (violin), Hank Dutt (viola), and Sunny Yang (cello) — has pursued a singular artistic vision, combining a spirit of fearless exploration with a commitment to continually reimagining the string quartet experience. In the process, Kronos has become one of the most celebrated and influential groups of our time, performing thousands of concerts worldwide, releasing more than 60 recordings of extraordinary breadth and creativity, collaborating with many of the world’s most intriguing and accomplished composers and performers, and commissioning more than 950 works and arrangements for string quartet. Kronos has also received over 40 awards, including both the Polar Music and Avery Fisher Prize, a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance (2004) and “Musicians of the Year” (2003) from Musical America. The iconic quartet makes its long-overdue Caramoor debut June 29, combining music by minimalist pioneers and frequent collaborators Steve Reich and Terry Riley with arrangements of songs ranging from George Gershwin and Charles Mingus to Laurie Anderson and Rhiannon Giddens, who co-headlined last season’s American Roots Music Festival. A pre-concert talk with violinist David Harrington precedes the performance at 7pm.
The four-man percussion band Sō Percussion — Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, and Jason Treuting — has revolutionized the percussion ensemble in much the same way Kronos has the string quartet. Lauded by the New Yorker for its “exhilarating blend of precision and anarchy, rigor and bedlam,” the group’s repertoire combines “classics” of the 20th century with commissions by contemporary composers and cross-genre collaborations with artists who work outside the classical concert hall. Sō Percussion displays its distinctive synthesis of original music, artistic collaboration, theatrical production values and visual art in the Venetian Theater on June 22, presenting a world premiere by Vijay Iyer; Donnacha Dennehy’s Broken Unison, premiered by Sō Percussion at Carnegie Hall last March; Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw’s Taxidermy, which the group premiered in 2012; and works by John Cage, Steve Reich, and Paul Lansky. A pre-concert talk with members of the quartet and Vijay Iyer precedes the performance at 7pm.
In a banner year for percussion music, John Luther Adams’s monumental Inuksuit — called by the New Yorker’s Alex Ross “one of the most rapturous experiences of my listening life” — will also be performed this summer, as the centerpiece of a special day of free events at Caramoor featuring an interactive children’s percussion activity and more throughout the grounds (July 1). Scored for 9 to 99 percussionists, Inuksuit will be performed on this occasion by 60+ musicians playing an incredible array of instruments including conch shells, sirens, gongs, bells, drums, cymbals, and glockenspiels, dispersed throughout the landscape. They will be led by Doug Perkins, who produced the Cantaloupe Records CD of the work with a group of 32 in a forest in Guilford, Vermont, and who has directed numerous other performances of the piece around the world. A pre-concert talk precedes the performance at 3pm.
On June 17, Brooklyn-based and Grammy-nominated orchestral collective The Knights, following a family concert that same afternoon, features another prominent compositional voice in contemporary percussion music, as lauded steel pan player Andy Akiho performs his own Fantasy for Steel Pans and Orchestra. Also on the wide-ranging program is a Flute Concerto by Judd Greenstein — “a composer who deserves our attention … who displays no shyness about his influences, yet combines them in a totally distinctive way” (St. Paul Pioneer Press) — written for and performed by Knights member Alex Sopp. Closing out the program is a collection of dances from Leonard Bernstein’s On the Town, in honor of the composer’s centennial.
Celebrated young composer Matthew Aucoin, currently serving as Artist-in-Residence at Los Angeles Opera in a position that was created specifically to feature both his conducting and composing talents, will have his only purely orchestral piece to date played at Caramoor this summer. The resident Orchestra of St. Luke’s, led by French conductor and Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot in his debut with the orchestra, gives the New York premiere of Aucoin’s Evidence, with a pre-concert talk by Morlot before the performance at 7pm (June 30).
Testifying to a longstanding commitment to the creation of new work, in 2000 Caramoor inaugurated “String Quartet Library for the 21st Century,” an initiative for which it has commissioned 19 new compositions to date. The 19th of these, commissioned from Julia Adolphe — “a gifted American composer whose artistry is turning heads around the country” (Cincinnati Enquirer) — will be given its world premiere by the Verona Quartet, praised by The New York Times as “cohesive yet full of temperament … vibrant, intelligent” and serving as Caramoor’s 2017–18 Ernst Stiefel Quartet-in-Residence. The program also includes works of Dvořák and Janáček (June 21). The Jasper String Quartet, formerly incumbent as the Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence (2009-11) and hailed by The Strad as “sonically delightful and expressively compelling,” pairs string quartets by Beethoven and Mendelssohn with works by two contemporary composers: Missy Mazzoli, best known for the recent triumphant debut of her opera Breaking the Waves at Philadelphia Opera, and Ted Hearne, also known for theatrical vocal compositions as well as instrumental music and characterized as a “panstylistic provocateur” by Opera News (July 6).
Michael Brown — a “young piano visionary” who is “one of the leading figures in the current renaissance of composer-performers” (The New York Times) — will give a solo recital on July 12 in honor of this year’s centennial of the birth of Leonard Bernstein. Twentieth-century pieces on the program include Nicolai Medtner’s Second Improvisation for Piano, Bernstein’s Four Movements from West Side Story, and Copland’s El salón México as arranged by Bernstein; Brown also plays his own composition 100 Chords for Leonard Bernstein.
San Francisco’s three-time Grammy Award-winning male vocal group Chanticleer — “the world’s reigning male chorus” (New Yorker) — celebrates its 40th anniversary with a Spanish Courtyard performance this summer. The program includes works from the Renaissance to the twenty-first century, along with a selection of traditional, standard, and jazz works drawn from Chanticleer’s extensive and eclectic repertoire, with many of the contemporary pieces and arrangements commissioned by the group. Contemporary works include Steven Stucky’s Whispers, William Hawley’s Io son la primavera, Michael McGlynn’s Dúlamán, and Stacy Garrop’s Jarba, Mare Jarba (July 26).
Finally, Caramoor’s Sonic Innovations sound art initiative continues to expand Caramoor’s programming with an annual exhibition of sound art, curated by Stephan Moore, from artists working with sonic materials outside the traditions of concert music. Each artist has drawn inspiration from their chosen location, creating work that is mindful of the natural and human-made sounds and systems already present in the environment, while engaging each site’s unique characteristics — be they acoustic, historic, architectural, or natural. Two new installations are featured this season: Nafasi Yako Ni Ya Kijani (Your Place is Green) from artist Walter Kitundu, and woven by air by Paula Matthusen. Two sound art pieces from past years also return this summer: Ranjit Bhatnager’s Stone Song and Taylor Deupree’s t(ch)ime.
Food + Drink Offerings
On performance days during the summer, spread a blanket on the lawn, reminisce with family and friends over a glass of wine at a picnic table, or set up your own table and chairs for the day — Caramoor has plenty of space. The Food + Drink Offerings during the Summer Season feature a variety of delicious, organic, and locally-sourced snacks and beverages provided by Great Performances catering and events company. The Katchkie Food Truck offers the mouth-watering Caramoor Burger and Treble Dog, and the Tap Tent has a wide range of snacks, water, soda, local wine and beer, coffee and tea, not to mention Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Caramoor Members enjoy 10% off at the Food + Drink selections and certain events like festival days feature special menus. For maximum convenience and to avoid the lines, Great Performances also offers pre-ordered picnic boxes in a variety of menus. Additionally, on July 22 and 29, a relaxed Symphony Court dining experience with seats under a tented pavilion is offered. Each buffet menu includes unlimited wine, beer, and soda, or you are welcome to bring your own. Menus for the picnics and Symphony Court are available online, and you can either order online or call the Box Office at 914.232.1252. Order by Tuesday at 4:00pm for the upcoming week’s performance.
Caramoor is a performing arts center located on a unique 90-acre estate with Italianate architecture and gardens in Westchester County, NY. It enriches the lives of its audiences through innovative and diverse musical performances of the highest quality. Its mission also includes mentoring young professional musicians and providing educational programs for young children centered around music. Audiences are invited to come early to explore the beautiful grounds; tour the historic Rosen House, a stunning mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places; unwind with a pre-concert picnic or concessions with beer and wine; enjoy a delicious Afternoon Tea on Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the summer season; and discover beautiful music in the relaxed settings of the Venetian Theater, Spanish Courtyard, Music Room of the Rosen House, and magnificent gardens. Summer concerts take place in two outdoor theaters: the acoustically superb Venetian Theater, which seats approximately 1,500, and the more intimate, romantic Spanish Courtyard, which seats around 470. In the fall and winter, concerts are presented in the splendid Music Room in the Rosen House. Caramoor’s gardens, also used for concerts and the sound exhibition Sonic Innovations, are well worth the visit and include nine unique perennial gardens. Among them are a Sense Circle for the visually impaired, the Sunken Garden, a Butterfly Garden, the Tapestry Hedge, and the Iris and Peony Garden.
Getting to Caramoor
Getting to Caramoor is simple by car, train 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 always available and free shuttle service is available for most performances. For current information, check the Metro-North schedule.
For high-resolution photos, click here.
Caramoor: New music and world premieres
Family Concert: The Knights
Eric Jacobsen, conductor
Andy Akiho, steel pans
Alex Sopp, flute
Ravel: Le tombeau de Couperin
Andy Akiho: Fantasy for Steel Pans and Orchestra
Fauré: Pavane, Op. 50
Judd Greenstein: Flute Concerto
Bernstein: Three Dance Episodes from On the Town
Dvořák: Cypresses (selections)
Julia Adolphe: New work — world premiere (commissioned by Caramoor)
Janáček: String Quartet No. 2 “Intimate Letters”
8pm, pre-concert talk at 7pm
Reich: Mallet Quartet
Paul Lansky: Springs
Donnacha Dennehy: Broken Unison
Caroline Shaw: Taxidermy
Vijay Iyer: Mallet Quartet — world premiere
Cage: Third Construction
8pm, pre-concert talk at 7pm
Traditional (Arr. Jacob Garchik, after Everly Brothers): The House of the Rising Sun
Gershwin (Arr. Jacob Garchik, after Janis Joplin): Summertime
Meeropol (Arr. Jacob Garchik, after Billie Holiday): Strange Fruit
Mingus (Arr. Sy Johnson): Children’s Hour of Dream
Wiley (Arr. Jacob Garchik): Last Kind Words
Terry Riley: Salome Dances for Peace: Good Medicine
Aleksandra Vrebalov: My Desert, My Rose
Rhiannon Giddens (Arr. Jacob Garchik): At the Purchaser’s Option with Variations
Laurie Anderson (Arr. Jacob Garchik): Flow
Steve Reich: Triple Quartet
Orchestra of St. Luke’s
8pm, pre-concert talk 7pm
Ludovic Morlot, conductor*
Benjamin Beilman, violin (ERS alum)
Smetana: Dance of the Comedians
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35
Matthew Aucoin: Evidence — New York premiere
Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
4pm, free concert plus an afternoon of activities
Directed by Doug Perkins
John Luther Adams: Inuksuit
1:00pm sound art panel
2:00pm Rhythm Rumpus (children’s activity)
3:00pm pre-concert talk
Jasper String Quartet
Beethoven: String Quartet No 2 in G, Op. 18, No. 2
Ted Hearne: Law of Mosaics: 1. Excerpts from the middle of something
Missy Mazzoli: Death Valley Junction
Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2
Michael Brown, piano
Haydn: Fantasia in C, H.XVII:4, “Capriccio”
Medtner: Second Improvisation for Piano, Op. 47
Michael Brown: 100 Chords for Bernstein
Bernstein (Arr. Leo Smit): Four Movements from West Side Story
Copland (Arr. Bernstein): El salón México
40th Anniversary program
Lassus: Surrexit Pastor bonus
Palestrina: Gaude Gloriosa
Gibbons: O Clap Your Hands
Byrd: Ave verum corpus
Salazar: Salve Regina
Strauss: Drei Männerchöre
Morley: Now is the Month of Maying
William Hawley: Io son la primavera
Arcadelt: Il bianco e dolce cigno
Michael McGlynn: Dúlamán
Stacy Garrop: Jarba, Mare Jarba
Spiritual: I Want to Die Easy (arr. Alice Parker and Robert Shaw)
Whitaker/Alexander: Straight Street (arr. J.H. Jennings)
Spiritual: Keep Your Hand on the Plow (arr. J.H. Jennings)
* Caramoor debut
All concerts made possible, in part, by ArtsWestchester with funds from the Westchester County Government.
All concerts made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
The 2018 Summer Music Festival is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.