Summerfest 2017: The Art and Soul of Chamber Music

In his first inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln faced a divided nation. Less than a month before his March 4, 1861 speech, seven states formally declared themselves the Confederate States of America, tearing asunder a young nation that was only eighty-five years old. Urging his listeners to come together, Lincoln appealed to the “mystic chords of memory” that would “swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched…by the better angels of our nature.” Today, we again find ourselves needing those better angels, needing to find reconciliation and union. As artists, we believe that nothing is as powerful as music in bringing us together, helping us find and celebrate our shared humanity. So invite a friend and join Summerfest this July as we evoke President Lincoln’s Chords of Memory through a series of concerts designed to remind us of who we were, who we are, and who we still might become.

Week1July 8, 9: Czech Us Out!

Come explore the captivating melodies of the Czech Republic!

When Bedrich Smetana set out to be a composer in the mid-19th century, he could not find a musical memory upon which to base his music. As part of the Austrian Empire, his native Bohemia sounded German. Rising to the challenge in works like his autobiographical String Quartet No. 1, “From My Life,” Smetana gave future Czech composers a basis upon which to build a national music. Remembering Smetana, Pavel Hass wrote a striking Wind Quintet early in his short career that included folk tunes and dances from the Moravian region of the Czech lands. And following World War II, Cezch composers like Jiří Jaroch added their own touches to the national sound with works like Jaroch’s Detska Suita (Children’s Suite), a delightful composition designed to entertain children and to help adults remember their own childhoods. Buy Tickets

Week2July 15, 16: Romance

Bask in the romance with works by Ravel and Griffes. Young artists from the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art share their paintings inspired by the music.

Maurice Ravel once remarked, “Great music…must come from the heart.” His Piano Trio in A minor lives up to that remark with rhythmic patterns and subtle melodies that recall Ravel’s childhood in the Basque region of France and the emotions it wears on its sleeve. Similarly, Charles Griffes’s Three Tone Pictures uses the Impressionist style and exotic melodies to paint poems by Edgar Allen Poe. Serenades, those light and playful works dedicated to an individual and played outdoors, make up the central part of our second week. We often picture a young man with a guitar serenading a beautiful maiden on a balcony, but Reynaldo Hahn’s and Carl Nielsen’s serenades have something different in mind. Hahn’s Serenade, unpublished at his death, is classical in its structure and similarly restrained in its affect, as though our young suitor were shyly singing to his beloved. Nielsen’s cheekily named Serenata-Invano (or Useless Serenade) finds a group of men fruitlessly serenading a young woman only to give up and return to the pub for the evening. Buy Tickets

fringefest-concert16July 22, 23, 27, 28: Summerfest is for the Birds at the Fringe Festival

For our third week, Summerfest is explicitly bringing together our community by performing at the Fringe Festival. Our first work on the program is a celebration of all the arts presented at the festival as Michael Horwood’s Birds combines music and over 120 projected images to tell a story designed by Toronto writer Michael Schulman. You’ll hear “Baby Birds,” “Endangered Birds,” and even “Strange Birds” come vividly to life. Continuing the bird theme, we conclude with Thomas Albert’s Thirteen Ways, which sets Wallace Stevens’s poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by having the musicians read lines from the poem painting them musically. Much like Horwood’s birds, Albert’s blackbird comes to us in different perspectives, asking us to check our memory of the blackbird’s song against what we hear.

Week3July 29, 30: Joy and Remembrance; Awakening of the Spirit

Awaken your spirit through music and photographs with a slide show designed to deepen your experience of the music.

Even before Bobby McFerrin urged us to “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” American culture celebrated the optimist and built the “Happiest Place on Earth.” But surviving and then remembering hard times has a cathartic effect that brings communities close together. Margaret Brouwer’s song Whom Do You Call Angel Now? recalls the tragedy of September 11, 2001 with stark, simple music that allows the text to speak. Similarly, Osvaldo Golijov’s Tenebrae mourns renewed violence in Israel while placing it in a global perspective. However, in the midst of our sorrow, there is always hope, whether in the clean lines and light textures of Maurice Emmanuel’s Sonata, op. 11, the beautiful structure of a Trio Sonata by Johann Sebastian Bach, or the remembrance of past music and the power it can play in helping us move on to the future in Bruce Adolphe’s Bridgehampton Concerto. Buy Tickets