Copland House Launches 10th Season At Merestead
Copland House's 2018-19 mainstage season will offer celebrations aplenty! Ranging widely across more than a century of American music, the popular series is Copland House's 10th at Westchester County's majestic Merestead estate in Mount Kisco, NY. Hailed by The New York Times for "all the richness of its offerings, first-rate fare, and reputation for quality," the series has become a destination for an enthusiastic and growing audience of musical adventurers seeking discoveries of the new, old, and unexpected.
The 2018-19 season, which runs from September 21 through June 9, features 60 works by 38 composers, including eight World Premieres. All concerts feature the stellar Founding, Principal, and Guest Artists of the Music from Copland House ensemble, tagged by American Record Guide as "our paramount keeper of Copland's flame."
Scheduled to appear this season are soprano Amy Burton; mezzo-soprano Katherine Pracht; baritones Justin Austin, James Martin, and Jorell Williams; flutist Beomjae Kim; clarinetists Derek Bermel, Alexander Fiterstein, Moran Katz, Alan R. Kay, Romie deGuise-Langlois, and Carol McGonnell; oboist Roni Gal-Ed; pianists Michael Barrett, Michael Boriskin, Margaret Kampmeier, and John Musto; violinists Pala Garcia, Curtis Macomber, Jennifer Leshnower, Harumi Rhodes, and Charles Yang; violists Danielle Farina and Kathryn Lockwood; cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach; narrator Jamie Bernstein; and guest speaker David Denby.
"Generations of people from every corner of the globe have brought their diverse cultures, sounds, and traditions to the U.S., becoming part of, and enriching, the social and cultural fabric of our nation," says noted pianist and Copland House Artistic and Executive Director Michael Boriskin. "While America's music reflects that enormous variety, far too much of our extraordinary heritage remains little known. Copland House is on an ongoing journey to explore and revel in as much of that vibrant legacy as we can."
The region's only multi-concert, wide-ranging celebration of the charismatic composer's instrumental, vocal, chamber, and theater music, Copland House joins worldwide commemorations of the 100th Anniversary of Leonard Bernstein's birth with a mini-festival of four concerts on back-to-back weekends (September 21 through 30), kicking off its 2018-19 season. The programs span Bernstein's entire creative output, and include his first and last works, a tour-de-force two-piano version of his iconic Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, his major song cycle (and last important work) Arias and Barcarolles, his brilliant solo piano version of Copland's El Salon Mexico, and other works about love, life, loss, family, relationships, and other matters both existential and fleeting.
Late Night with Leonard Bernstein
Friday evening, September 21, 9pm
"For lovers of contemporary American music," raved the San Diego Times recently, "nothing could exceed Late Night with Leonard Bernstein, which delighted and, even thrilled, a packed house ... Those in attendance will not forget this delicious evening."
Conceived by former New York City Opera Director and Bernstein protégé George Steel and written by Steel and Jamie Bernstein, this affectionate, personal tribute to the iconic maestro opens Copland House's 2018-19 season, after playing sold-out engagements across the US, including those at the Ravinia, La Jolla, and Gilmore Festivals, New York Philharmonic, and Universities of Buffalo and Vermont, and in Washington, Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and many other cities. A well-known insomniac for whom night was a time for creativity and friendship, deep introspection, and revelry, Bernstein loved to work at all hours, often entertaining friends and guests late into the night and dazzling them with charismatic performances across a wide range of musical styles. Hosted and narrated by Bernstein's older daughter Jamie and featuring acclaimed soprano Amy Burton and pianists John Musto and Michael Boriskin - this captivating, multi-media portrait of the personal side of this singularly public figure includes performances of intimate Bernstein compositions, and some of his favorite works by Aaron Copland, Noel Coward, ZEZ CONFREY, Ernesto Lecuona, Edvard Grieg, and Franz Schubert. The evening also offers personal anecdotes, archival photographs, and rare audio and video clips of the legendary maestro himself.
Theater in Disguise
Sunday afternoon, September 23, 3pm
"In a sense," Leonard Bernstein said, "all of my music is theater music." Theater in Disguise explores the ever-inquisitive master's intimate voice through his finely-wrought, often surprising chamber music. Given his natural tendency for big, bold thinking, he wrote relatively few works for small ensembles, but those compositions captured his most introspective, nuanced thoughts. The program features works from both ends of his illustrious career, from precocious youngster to wizened, complex thinker. His Piano Trio is among his earliest surviving compositions; written as a teenager in the 1930s, it already showing his eclectic creative inclinations. From much later in his career are the stately, somber Three Meditations, extracted from his monumental Mass for the legendary cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, and the rarely-heard Variations on an Octatonic Scale, one of his last works. The concert also includes his early, eloquent Canon for Aaron, originally scored for violin and piano and re-emerging decades later as the affecting conclusion to Mass.
Bernstein in Black & White
Saturday evening, September 29, 8pm
A dazzling pianist for whom the instrument was a kind of personal lab, Leonard Bernstein often experimented at the keyboard with new musical ideas, before transplanting and developing them into much larger orchestral or theatrical works. Other composers often transformed those big symphonic pieces into blazing keyboard extravaganzas for one or two pianos, revealing musical detail and nuance that often went unheard amidst his brilliantly-colored symphonic soundscapes. Daredevil virtuosos John Musto and Michael Boriskin offer a view of Bernstein at the keyboard in all his brilliance. This program features two of his beloved theatrical overtures (to the shows Wonderful Town and Candide), his elegant, nostalgic late work, Divertimento, and a selection of his intimate solo piano works, and culminates in Musto's explosive 2-piano version of the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.
The Way it Flows: Bernstein on Life
Sunday afternoon, September 30, 3pm
Always hearing, observing, reflecting, and creating, Leonard Bernstein's thoughts were most indelibly conveyed through the union of words and music. This elegant, illuminating program, guided by longtime Bernstein musical associate, former Caramoor General Director, and noted pianist Michael Barrett, vividly captures the famed maestro's eloquence, erudition, and suave wit. The concert ranges across nearly 50 years of vocal music, highlighted by his last major work, Arias and Barcarolles, which muses on the complexities of love, loss, creativity, and relationships, through the lens of family life. Also included are The Story of My Life (cut from Wonderful Town), Lamentation from Jeremiah, and other songs reflecting upon the joys, missed opportunities, unexpected delights, and adventures and misadventures of people as they "travel long ... travel far." Featured are the acclaimed mezzo-soprano Katherine Pracht and baritone Justin Austin. The concert will be introduced by David Denby, the renowned longtime film critic of The New Yorker, who has observed and written insightfully about Bernstein over the years.
Enduring Ideals: The Sound of Freedom
Sunday afternoon, October 21, 3pm
Both timely and timeless, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union address contained a stirring salute to "The Four Freedoms" - America's foundational aspirations of human rights, decency, and respect. Those sentiments resonated deeply with many artists then and since, who, like Copland, believed that "artists ... symbolize the free man," and that creativity and self-expression embodied liberty. The dynamic baritone James Martin returns to Merestead in a program honoring the 75th Anniversary of Norman Rockwell's legendary suite of paintings, The Four Freedoms, one of the first artistic manifestations of Roosevelt's soaring speech. Featured in this multi-generational program celebrating enduring ideals of liberty and dignity, and reflecting on the dire consequences of losing them, are works by William Grant STILL, Margaret Bonds, Tania Leon, Florence Price, FATS WALLER, Aaron Copland, Marc Blitzstein, and 2015 CULTIVATE Fellow GITY RAZAZ. The concert also salutes Pulitzer Prize-winner Ned Rorem's 95th birthday with a performance of his Aftermath, his poignant, masterful response to the September 11th attacks.
From Vienna/NY/LA: 2 Hours
Sunday afternoon, November 18, 3pm
Generations of composers, painters, writers, actors, and other artists made trans-Atlantic crossings from Austria and Germany to the U.S., seeking opportunities, fresh inspirations, or safety from tyranny, persecution, or war. Many left an indelible mark on their new homeland, regardless of whether their stays here were brief or permanent. This program offers works by some of the most formidable personalities of the early 20th century, who found success, solace, or frustration in the New World, including two of the major creative figures of the age, Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg, the renowned professor and composer ALEXANDER ZEMLINSKY, the captivating ALMA MAHLER, and famed conductor and (early in his career) accomplished composer BRUNO WALTER. Acclaimed soprano Justine Aronson returns to Merestead for performances of songs by Alma Mahler and Zemlinsky. (Supported by the Westchester Community Foundation Rudyard and Emanuella Reimss Fund)
Memories and Premonitions
Sunday afternoon, December 16, 3pm
Sounds and spirits of the past often inhabit the music of the present, as each generation of composers builds upon the music of its artistic forbears. At this concert, the ghosts of Mozart, Brahms, klezmer, ragtime, Peruvian folk music, and Hindustani singers hover around the works of William Albright, GABRIELA LENA FRANK, Pulitzer Prize-winner JOHN HARBISON, and 2012 CULTIVATE Fellow REENA ESMAIL. Highlighting this program is a rare performance of Albright's epic Clarinet Quintet of 1987, which veers precipitously from the savage and cerebral to the radiant and sublime, as it time-travels across the centuries; the performance features his one-time student, Music from Copland House's renowned Founding Clarinetist Derek Bermel. HARBISON's November 19, 1828 conjures the soul and spirit of Franz Schubert before and after his death on that date. The works of Frank and Esmail reach back into the music of their respective ancestry.
The Listening Eye
Sunday afternoon, March 10, 3pm
Critic Alan Rich once called music a "mirror of the arts." This vibrant program explores the inspiration of visual arts on the word of sound. 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winner KEVIN PUTS' Living Frescoes is a musical manifestation of the celebrated video artist Bill Viola's massive installation Going Forth by Day, originally exhibited by Berlin's Deutsche Guggenheim. The work, Puts explains, "explores themes of human existence: individuality, society, death, rebirth."
Also on the program is From the Faraway Nearby by 2007 Copland House Resident KATHRYN ALEXANDER, which, inspired by three Georgia O'Keeffe paintings, explores the juxtaposition of opposites.
"Each of the movements is, in fact, analogous with one or more O'Keefe paintings," Alexander notes; "O'Keeffe's exploration of a mysterious unity perceived by the senses rather than by thought seems central to her own work. For the listener, then, perhaps music, in its intractable complexity and in its sensory connotation, is the experience of life and the ephemeral."