Valley Of The Moon Music Festival Announces Full Summer Program

Valley Of The Moon Music Festival Announces Full Summer Program

Valley of the Moon Music Festival, the nation's first and only organization devoted to presenting chamber music from the Classical era to the early 20th-century performed on instruments built when the music was written, has announced its full summer program including five new apprentices and three guest lecturers. Returning to the Hanna Center Auditorium in Sonoma July 14 - 28, the Festival will make a musical tour of several influential European salons including those of Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel in Leipzig, Sara Levy in Berlin and Winnaretta Singer, "Princesse de Polignac," in Paris.

Now in its fifth anniversary season, Valley of the Moon Music Festival celebrates Europe's powerful 19th-century salonnières, women who worked to advance the careers and reputations of composers from Bach to Stravinsky. "Europe's salonnièreswere the 'influencers' of their day," said Festival Co-Founder and Artistic Director Tanya Tomkins. "Through their salons they helped to shape the musical taste of their time, bringing together great performers, composers and intellectuals."

"Several of the salonnières were excellent artists in their own right," added Festival Co-Founder and Music Director Eric Zivian, "individuals like Maria Wilhelmine von Thun, praised for her keyboard playing, and composers Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann, several of whose works will be featured on our program."

In keeping with its mission to expand the horizons of historically informed music for future generations, Valley of the Moon Music Festival supports a two-week, full-scholarship summer residential program for advanced music students and young professionals. Apprentices collaborate with and are coached by some of the world's leading experts in early music. In addition to cellist Tomkins and fortepianist Zivian, this year's faculty mentors include violinists Elizabeth Blumenstock and MarcDestrubé.

Apprentices are invited to perform alongside Festival musicians in the final three concerts each season. This year the Festival will also present them in a free concert on Saturday, July 27 at 2:30 p.m. The program that afternoon will be Fanny Mendelssohn's Piano Quartet no. 3 in B minor.

The participating apprentices are David Belkovski, fortepiano; Keats Dieffenbach, violin; Joshua Gomberoff, viola; Geirþrúður Guðmundsdóttir, cello; and JasonIssokson, violin. While each remarkable as individuals, as a group they shine an international focus on the Festival, their talents hailing from the West Coast to the East Coast, and farther afield to Iceland and Macedonia. Though early in their careers, they have already performed on some of the most prestigious stages around the world from Carnegie Hall to Lincoln Center to the set of Saturday Night Live.

Joining the Festival this season are also several apprentice laureates, outstanding players who wowed audiences in previous years. The apprentice laureates are Madeleine Bouïssou, cello; Christian De Luca, fortepiano, winner of the 2018 Berkeley International Early Piano Competition; Andrew Gonzalez, viola; and Ana Kim, cello.

"Passing knowledge and experience from one generation to the next is the heart and soul of the Festival", said Tomkins.

For the second year in a row, Valley of the Moon Music Festival is pleased to present the Blattner Lecture Series, endowed by a gift from Kimberly and Simon Blattner. This season will feature talks from three distinguished scholars including returning Festival musician Kate van Orden, Harvard University's Dwight P. Robinson, Jr. Professor of Music. The additional speakers are Irene Zanini-Cordi, Associate Professor of Italian Studies at Florida State University, and Heather Hadlock, Associate Professor in the Department of Music at Stanford University. Each lecturer will explore the historical and cultural contexts of the salonnière, and the roles that women played in music.

Zanini-Cordi kicks off the series on July 14, followed by Hadlock on July 21 and van Orden on July 28. Each lecture begins at 2:30 p.m. Concerts take place at 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. An additional 11 a.m. concert is scheduled for Sunday, July 28. Tickets, $25 - $45 for single concerts, with discounts available for packages of two or more, are now on sale. The complete concert schedule follows below.


Sunday, July 14, 4 p.m.

Maria Wilhelmine von Thun, a countess and keyboard player, hosted one of the most splendid salons of 18th-century Vienna. She is especially remembered for her patronage of Mozart and Beethoven, and the Festival's opening concert on July 14 will feature Beethoven's Trio in B-flat major, op. 11, with clarinetist Eric Hoeprich joining Tomkins, cello, and Zivian, fortepiano. Violinists Cynthia Freivogel and Carla Moore, together with Elizabeth Blumenstock on viola, will join Tomkins and Hoeprich in the concert's finale, Mozart's Clarinet Quintet in A major. Additional works include a piano trio by Haydn and two preludes for fortepiano by Muzio Clementi.


Saturday, July 20, 4 p.m.

Cristina Trivulzio di Belgiojoso was an Italian noblewoman as well as a writer and journalist, who played a prominent part in Italy's struggle for independence. In the 1830s and 40s, she ran a salon out of her Paris home, with Alexis de Tocqueville, Honoré de Balzac, Victor Hugo and Franz Liszt among its distinguished participants. In honor of Belgiojoso's salon, the Festival will present two pieces by Liszt: the first, a work for fortepiano performed by Jeffrey LaDeur, Sposalizio from his collection Deuxième Année de Pèlerinage, Italie, followed by a collection of songs to texts by Victor Hugo, performed by tenor Kyle Stegall with Zivian on fortepiano.

The concert will also feature soprano Nikki Einfeld performing selections from Vincenzo Bellini's Composizioni da Camera, as well as performing in a duet with Stegall in Serenata from Rossini's Soirées Musicales. Rounding out the program is Chopin's Allegro de Concert, op. 46 performed by LaDeur.


Sunday, July 21, 4 p.m.

Winnaretta Singer, Princesse Edmond de Polignac, was an American-born heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune. In the 1890s, she moved to Paris, where she established a salon that supported Debussy, Fauré and Stravinksy, among many others. The Festival will pay tribute to her salon with a selection of works by several of the composers she embraced and several others she commissioned, including Fauré, Stravinsky, Wagner, Reynaldo Hahn and Ernest Chausson.

Cinq Mélodies de Venise, Fauré's song cycle for voice and piano based on five poems by Paul Verlaine, will be paired with Hahn's Venezia cycle of six songs in Venetian dialect, both works performed by Stegall and Zivian. The concert also includes Wagner's Träume from his Wesendonck Lieder, with Stegall accompanied by violinists Anna Presler and Liana Bérubé, violist Phyllis Kamrin and Tomkins on cello. The concert closes with Stravinsky's Three Pieces for String Quartet and Chausson's Concerto in D major for Violin, Piano and String Quartet. World-renowned violinist Rachel Barton Pine, in her Festival debut, will perform as soloist in the Chausson concerto.


Saturday, July 27, 4 p.m.

Fanny Mendelssohn, the older sister of Felix Mendelssohn, led a relatively short but astonishing career, composing over 400 works during a time in which, in the words of her father, music could be the "profession" of a man, but merely the "ornament" of a woman. At her family home in Berlin, she hosted a salon where she put on display her own musical talent, performing, composing, conducting and programming new works. In recognition of Fanny's prodigious gifts, the Festival's fourth concert will present several of her original works alongside one by her brother.

The concert opens with her Fantasie in G minor for cello and fortepiano, with cellist Ana Kim joined by Zivian. Kim returns for a duet with fortepianist Christian De Luca in Fanny's Capriccio in A-flat major. Seattle-based soprano Danielle Sampson, in her Festival debut, will perform a selection of eight songs from Fanny's collection of Lieder. Four of the Festival apprentices will perform Fanny's String Quartet in E-flat major. Rounding out the program is Felix's Cello Sonata No.2 in D major, performed by Tomkins on cello and De Luca on fortepiano.


Sunday, July 28, 11 a.m.

Sara Levy was Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn's maternal great aunt, and a talented keyboardist in her own right. Today she is best remembered as a devotee of J. S. Bach, playing an important role in proselytizing his significance to German music. A student of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, she performed the harpsichord at the premiere of his brother Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach's Concerto for fortepiano and harpsichord. The Festival will present two keyboard works by C. P. E. Bach - a Rondo in C Minor and Fantasia in C Major - and one chamber work by W. F. Bach, his Overture, "BWV 1070". Samson will return to perform Carl Friedrich Zelter's Sehnsucht with lyrics by Goethe. Finally, two chamber pieces by Mozart complete the concert: his Sonata for Violin and Piano in B-flat major and his Piano Trio in E major.


Sunday, July 28, 4 p.m.

Like Levy, Mendelssohn and von Thun before her, Clara Schumann was a musical prodigy. She married Robert Schumann, and together they were a power couple of Leipzig until the time of Robert's passing. Apart from their own composing and concertizing, they championed Brahms to a wide audience. The final concert of the season will feature a selection of songs by Brahms, performed by Samson, together with his celebrated String Sextet No. 1 in B-flat major, a work for two violins, two violas and two cellos. Another figure championed by the Schumanns was Hungarian Jewish violinist Joseph Joachim. Clara reportedly performed more concerts with Joachim than with any other artist over her six-decade-plus career, and the Festival will honor their relationship with a presentation of Grave from Hebrew Melodies, a duet for viola and fortepiano, performed by Andrew Gonzalez and Zivian.

The concert will also feature works by Robert and Clara Schumann. Robert's Märchenbilder or Fairy Tale Pictures, for fortepiano and viola, consists of four character pieces. Finally, Samson returns to perform two of Clara's most exquisite songs, Die stille Lotosblume and Er ist gekommen.

For more information about Valley of the Moon Music Festival's fifth anniversary season, visit

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