Summertime is music festival time — and that does not exclude the genre designed to be performed indoors, in a large room by a small ensemble. Two chamber music mainstays, the Bridgehampton and LIU Post festivals, are heating up the regional circuit with concerts this weekend.
The Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival’s selections for its 36th season revolve around the theme “Winds of Change.” “The old days of wearing tails and a poker face are gone,” says Marya Martin, an internationally acclaimed flutist and the festival’s founder and director. “Our job is to get people listening to us, to try to connect the music more to our audiences.”
To that end, the 14-performance event opens with the festival’s signature “Composer Portrait,” this year dedicated to Antonín Dvořák, one of the first Czech composers to achieve global recognition. Illuminating passages from Dvořák’s letters and authored newspaper articles, to be read by guest narrator and award-winning writer Roger Rosenblatt, reveal how American Indian and African-American idioms discovered by the 19th century Czech artist during his three-year stint as director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York influenced his folk-inflected classical scores.
“Every night he would hear Henry Burleigh, who attended the conservatory on scholarship and would become one of the earliest African-American composers, singing spirituals and plantation songs while he mopped the halls working as a night janitor,” notes Martin.
Other evidence of change highlighted in the festival’s program is the inclusion of music by 13 women, from Amy Beach, the first American female to compose a symphony and creator of some 300 works after her husband’s death, to a contemporary string quartet written by Missy Mazzoli. A concert exploring the evolution of music in relation to movies, and, in a more literal translation of the Bridgehampton festival’s overarching theme, the insertion of every composition Mozart wrote for wind instruments, rounds out the series.
Dvořák fans will have plenty to listen to in the coming days with the Czech composer headlining a group of works by his compatriots presented by the Pierrot Consort, the faculty ensemble-in-residence, at LIU Post. Now in its 38th season, the university’s chamber music festival features a varied repertoire performed by professional musicians and a host of students between ages 10 and 25 vetted to participate in more than 70 chamber groups over the three-week event.
“We have many prominent alumni,” notes Susan Deaver, the festival’s co-founder and director, who is also the Pierrot Consort’s flutist. Among them are world-renowned violinist and conductor Tito Muñoz and French horn player and composer Jeffrey Scott of the Grammy-nominated Imani Winds, a quintet committed to connecting with contemporary audiences.
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“In the old days it was déclassé to clap in between movements,” says BCMF’s Martin, “but now it’s seen as a natural instinct to applaud when that final chord is played.”
WHAT The Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival
WHEN | WHERE 6:30 p.m. July 21, Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, 2429 Montauk Hwy. (additional times and locations through Aug. 18)
INFO $10-$55; 631-537-6368, bcmf.org
WHAT The LIU Post Chamber Music Festival
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday, Great Hall in Winnick House, 720 Northern Blvd., Brookville (additional times through July 26)
The location of the Friday, July 19 concert presented by The Pierrot Consort has been changed from the Krasnoff Theater to the Great Hall in Winnick House on the LIU Post Campus. Seating is limited. For further information to find the Winnick House and the Great Hall, follow this link to the LIU Post Campus Map:
INFO $10-$20; 516-299-2103, postmusic.liu.edu/chambermusic
If your musical taste runs toward jazz, head over to Heckscher Park in Huntington for the fifth annual Coltrane Day Music Festival. This year's event, a collaboration of The John and Alice Coltrane Home in Dix Hills, the Town of Huntington and the Huntington Arts Council, features an impressive lineup of performers, including saxophonist Dave Liebman, pianist Emmet Cohen, drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath and hip-hop jazz man Dudley Music. In addition to cool jazz, there will also be diverse workshops ranging from African dance to Brazilian drumming with John Ward, kid-friendly activities like face painting, tasty treats and a Community Jam where attendees of any age or musical skill level can perform with the pros on stage.
WHEN | WHERE Noon-10:30 p.m. Saturday, Heckscher Park, Route 25A and Prime Avenue, Huntington
INFO Free (donation recommended); thecoltranehome.org