The Rolston String Quartet (Norfolk ’16) credits attending the Norfolk Festival’s Chamber Music Session with helping them win the 2016 Banff International String Quartet competition. Cellist Jonathan Lo explains why. MORE
It’s been over a decade since Donna Yoo (Norfolk ’04) attended the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival’s Chamber Music Session, and she’s still close to the quintet she played with that summer. Not bad for a group that was randomly formed by the Eastman School of Music faculty when they were freshman.
They called themselves Destino Winds. “It was as if we were put together by destiny,” Yoo says of the name. “Historically, these groups don’t stay together. We were the only freshmen quintet that stayed together all four years.” MORE
Conductor Jeffrey Douma may have grown up playing the cello, but when he was a junior in high school, he heard a really good choir and that, as they say, was that. “The first time I really heard a good choir, I realized how remarkable the sound of an a cappella choir could be,” he says, noting he had always sung but never taken it seriously. “I realized that’s where my heart was.”
“I love orchestral and instrumental music, but I do think there’s something even more direct and emotionally profound about the sound of human voice,” he continues. “It’s very personal and also very mysterious.”
While some might assume that singing is easier to do than, say, playing the trombone, Douma doubts it. “Most people don’t have a lot of ideas of how vocal sounds are produced,” he says. “As I’m speaking to you, I’m creating all these different vowels and consonants. My mouth and tongue are creating a complicated series of small manipulations to create these sounds.” MORE
By Janet Reynolds
Editor’s note: Composer Martin Bresnick has a long history with Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. We did a profile of him last year that you can read.
This year, however, marks a very special event: the premiere on June 21 of Bresnick’s Whitman, Melville and Dickinson—Passions of Bloom with the Yale Choral Artists. The oratorio, which is inspired by Bach’s St. John Passion and St. Matthew Passion, celebrates three American literary icons—Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville and Walt Whitman—and Yale literature professor and renowned American literary critic, Harold Bloom. We talked to Bresnick about his inspirations for this work. MORE
By Janet Reynolds
Editor’s note: As you know, Melvin Chen is the Norfolk Festival’s new Director. As all new Directors do, Chen is mixing things up a bit and he wants to share some of the exciting things that are coming, beginning with this season’s thematic structure and additional musical opportunities. We started our “Meet the Director” series with a short Q & A that gives a few more personal details about Chen’s past. Want to learn the piece of chamber music he feels is the perfect introduction to the wonders of this type of music? Take a moment to read the Q &A.
In this part of the Meet the Director Series, Chen talks about his vision for the Festival and where he hopes to lead it in coming years.
“The Festival has a long history, a distinctive history of having the best musicians performing at the festival and also serving as an incubator for the next generation of musicians. I want to continue that tradition. Norfolk faces the same challenges most performing arts organizations face, which is to keep their current audience and to expand and build a broader base of audience support for the festival. One of the things I want to do is to find interesting and innovative programming to bring in a broader audience geographically and age-wise.”
Part of that strategy, Chen says, is to expand the festival’s geographic reach. “The goal is to make Norfolk a destination spot so that not just people who live in the area come to concerts but people come from around the country,” he says. ”They plan a special trip because they know they will hear something exciting.” MORE
Pianist David Kaplan (Norfolk ’08 and YSM ’07MM, ’08MMA, ’14DMA) has been appointed Lecturer in Piano for the 2016-2017 academic year at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.
Kaplan has appeared in programs presented by the Ravinia Festival, National Gallery of Art, Tanglewood Music Center, Mostly Mozart Festival, and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, among others. He is a core member of Decoda, an Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall, and is the artistic director of Lyrica Chamber Music, a concert series in Chatham Township, New Jersey. MORE
By Janet Reynolds
Clarinetist Richard Stoltzman is well known to Norfolk Chamber Music Festival-goers. He started as a student there in the 1960s and has returned to perform many summers since.
This time around Stoltzman is mixing the old with the new, performing in a Beethoven trio and a piece by contemporary composer Martin Bresnick. (Bresnick directs Norfolk’s New Music Workshop. You can read an interview with him here.)
While Stoltzman is excited to revisit the Beethoven trio, he’s particularly intrigued by the Bresnick trio, which is enigmatically titled * * * . “I have minimal knowledge of this,” he says on the phone from a restaurant. “I don’t even know what the three asterisks are for. This is a mystery piece for me.” MORE