From Music Director Alexander Platt:
Britten at Woodstock
Benjamin Britten and the Maverick Connection
In 1939, as war clouds gathered over Europe, the young English composer Benjamin Britten — “the Mozart of the 20th Century” — spent the summer here in Woodstock with his partner, the tenor Peter Pears, at the invitation of the composer Aaron Copland. As 2013 marks the centenary of Britten's birth, we celebrate his genius during another magnificent summer of “Music in the Woods” with performances of all of his significant works for string quartet.
Britten’s Les Illuminations, an epic song cycle for tenor and chamber orchestra that he composed during that long-ago Woodstock summer, will be at the center of our annual Chamber Orchestra Concert on July 27. The piece, which was immortalized by Pears’ performance of it, is an amazing setting of the words of another young artist radical, the proto-Symbolist French poet Arthur Rimbaud. Members of the Aurea Ensemble, with actors Chris Turner and Nigel Gore, all of whom I discovered at the Chicago Humanities Festival, will conjure the atmosphere of Britten’s world in that summer of 1939, reading the poetry of Auden, Spender, and Isherwood, among others, and playing the music of Britten and his muses. The Maverick Chamber Players will gather for the culmination of the evening, a complete performance of Les Illuminations, with the solo tenor part sung by Paul Appleby, a rising star of the Metropolitan Opera who will be taking a short break from his work at the Santa Fe Opera in order to join us. A very special evening indeed, celebrating both Britten and Woodstock!
photos by Dion Ogust
The Maverick Season
You will hear Britten’s masterpieces of chamber music performed in context, along with the great works of those composers who meant so much to him: Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Elgar, Copland, Shostakovich, and his own mentor, the forgotten late Romantic Frank Bridge. In our finest Maverick tradition, it will be a prodigious feast of great music, a serious blend of ancient and modern, familiar and forgotten, all played by some of the world’s leading artists in the chamber-music realm.
Along with cherished works of Beethoven, Brahms, Dvořák, and César Franck, the 2013 Maverick season will also see performances of great modern quartets of Erwin Schulhoff, Witold Lutosławski (in honor of the Polish master’s centenary), Sir Harrison Birtwistle, and Ned Rorem (in honor of his ninetieth birthday).
Our concert hall, the unique and historic “Music Chapel,” has undergone another round of major improvements. We are eager for our audiences to see the substantial upgrades that have built on the extensive restorations done last year, all work that has been accomplished thanks to our many generous friends and donors as well as major grants from the Thompson Family Foundation.
As always, we have invited to our woodland redoubt artists who will be new to the Maverick, including two of the hottest young string quartets before the public today, the Escher and the Voxare, as well as the distinguished German tenor Rufus Müller, in a rare performance of Britten’s Winter Words. We will again be welcoming back to the Maverick the Leipzig, Shanghai, Ensō, Miró, Jupiter, Parker, and Daedalus quartets, as well as the finest piano trio before the public today, our good friends the Trio Solisti. Star cellist Zuill Bailey will also be returning with pianist Robert Koenig for a fascinating program celebrating the friendship between Britten and the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Pianist Pedja Muzijevic will present an especially lovely Friends’ Concert, and the amazing Ilya Yakushev will also be a welcome guest again, as will another of Maverick’s good friends, bansuri bamboo flute master Steve Gorn, in an evening of spellbinding Indian ragas.
L: Pedja Muzijevic; R: The Shanghai Quartet, photos D.M. Richardson
Jazz at the Maverick
The Maverick continues to emphasize the importance of jazz in the contemporary musical world, and for our “Jazz at the Maverick” series I’ve invited back the acclaimed pianist-composer Fred Hersch, this time with his colleague, the brilliant Italian clarinetist Nico Gori. Guitarist Perry Beekman will also return, with a group of his friends, to celebrate the words and music of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. The exciting young pianist-composer Dan Tepfer will be making his Maverick debut, performing his fabulous contemporary jazz reinvention of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
Our festival begins at the end of June, with a preseason concert by the Liederworks Ensemble, with baritone Kerry Henderson and pianists Babette Hierholzer and Jürgen Appell. It will be an evening of vocal and chamber music rarities of Wagner and Verdi, in a nod to their bicentennial years. And building on the popular success of last season, the Maverick will once again be extending its festival into September, with our final concert of the summer featuring another group of long-standing Maverick friends, the American String Quartet.
Theater and Young People’s Concerts
In recognition of the historic cultural legacy of the Maverick Art Colony, the Actors & Writers theater company will once again present an evening of short theatrical works, no doubt repeating their full houses of last year. And finally, we are delighted to offer four of our popular Young People’s Concerts at the Maverick, this year featuring Erica Pickhardt and friends, pianist Ilya Yakushev, Woodstock legend Marc Black, and the triumphant return of Elizabeth Mitchell and family. These wonderful concerts, long a Maverick tradition, are designed for enjoyment by school-age children.
I look forward to personally welcoming you to our 98th Season, and sharing with you our 2013 celebration of Music in the Woods.
Visit the Samuel Dorsky Museums online exhibition of the Maverick Festival