Pianist Ilya Poletaev On The Art Of Listening

By Janet Reynolds

Pianist Ilya Poletaev is a musical triple threat, as at home on the piano keyboard as he is on that of the organ or harpsichord. He’s also a master of many musical tasks and styles. While many musicians focus on orchestral careers or perhaps that of a soloist, Poletaev literally has his fingers in many worlds. MORE

Published August 12, 2017
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Violinist Jennifer Frautschi

By Janet Reynolds

Violinist Jennifer Frautschi Performs at Norfolk Chamber Music FestivalThis summer may mark violinist Jennifer Frautschi’s first visit to Norfolk, but it’s also is a reunion with her long-time friend, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival Director Melvin Chen.“I’ve known Melvin since he was a teen from the Aspen Music Festival,” she says. “I started attending when I was 12, and Melvin and his brother were there.”

Frautschi has led a busy professional life since those teen years. She’s a two-time GRAMMY®- Award nominee and Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient who performs with orchestras around the world. And she is a regular at music festivals as well, including Ojai, La Jolla, Santa Fe, Moab, Bridgehampton, and Salt Bay. Today, when she’s not performing, Frautschi teaches at Stonybrook University. MORE

Published August 8, 2017
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Violinist Harumi Rhodes’ First Visit to Norfolk

By Janet Reynolds

Harumi Rhodes on Performing at Norfolk Chamber Music Festival

This summer may mark violinist Harumi Rhodes’ first visit to Norfolk, but in another way it’s a return to her past. She and Norfolk Chamber Music Festival Director Melvin Chen are close friends, who have played together in chamber music ensembles before.

The music Rhodes will be performing is a return to the familiar as well. In her first performance, the August 4th concert devoted to Dvořák in America, Rhodes will be playing in Dvořák’s Viola Quintet, a piece she calls “one of the most fun pieces to play.” The String Quartet in E-flat Major, sometimes called the “American” String Quintet, was written while Dvořák was living in Iowa and reflects the native influences Dvořák was hearing at the time. “It’s a piece of all kinds of flavors,” Rhodes says. “There are Native American and African American spiritual folk songs embedded, a combination of voices.” The extra viola, meanwhile, “adds a beautiful richness to the texture.” MORE

Published July 25, 2017
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Joshua Gindele on Dvořák, Norfolk
and Yes … Tennis

By Janet Reynolds

The Miró Quartet is a Norfolk alumni group, having been at the Festival in the summers of 1996 and 1998. Since then, the Quartet, which is the quartet-in-residence at the University of Texas at Austin, has won numerous awards, including being chosen as the first ensemble to win the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2005.

Cellist Joshua Gindele remembers those summers fondly. “We love it there. It was a formative place for the quartet,” he says. (The Quartet formed in 1995.) “We love that there are not many distractions.”

They are excited as well, Gindele says, with the overall focus on Dvořák. “The thing with Dvořák for us is he was innovative,” he says. “He wrote very distinct textures for each part. He was able to make sometimes three or four textures work brilliantly together. Playing music like that lets us each play with a lot of character. When Dvořák is played really well, you can hear all those voices playing in harmony.” MORE

Published July 15, 2017
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Chris Brubeck and Triple Play

By Janet Reynolds

Editor’s Note: Every summer Norfolk Chamber Music Festival opens its doors and grounds to the community for an afternoon of  free events. Want to introduce your children to live music in a family-friendly setting? This is the way to do it. The Open House, which is on Sunday, July 16 beginning at 2:00 p.m., is entirely free and includes an ice cream social, tours of the historic Whitehouse, a concert by the Festival’s Fellows, games, and for the finale, a performance by Chris Brubeck’s Triple Play. We caught up with Brubeck — yes, son of Dave Brubeck — on his busy touring schedule to talk a bit about how he got into music and why he’s excited about this particular gig.

Chris Brubeck is no stranger to Norfolk. He has played at the Festival with his father, the legendary jazz pianist and composer, Dave Brubeck. “Norfolk is one of the greatest situations in all of Connecticut in terms of musical traditions,” Chris says.

As a child, Brubeck was also conscious of Norfolk because his brother took cello lessons from Yale School of Music professor and Festival regular, Aldo Parisot, who was also a good friend of Brubeck’s father. “All his kids are contemporaneous with me,” Brubeck says. “We’re all still good friends.” It makes Norfolk feel, he adds, “more of an extended family concept.” MORE

Published July 11, 2017
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Tara Helen O’Connor On Why the Flute and Why She Loves Norfolk

By Janet Reynolds

For flutist Tara Helen O’Connor, her upcoming performance on Friday, July 14, at the Norfolk Festival is a homecoming.  She was a Fellow in 1989, at the beginning of her career, an experience she calls “life changing.”

“The faculty was incredibly generous with their time and expertise,” she says. “We worked really hard, practiced all day. The whole vibe there was so enriching, so warm, so life changing. It really cemented my desire to pursue music as a career at all costs.”

Yale School of Music faculty member and flutist Thomas Nyfenger was O’Connor’s teacher while she was at Norfolk. “I had such wonderful coaching from him,” she says, “and then the whole Faculty was in the dining room and we got to hang out together. My fondest memories are from Norfolk playing chamber music.” MORE

Published July 11, 2017
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Jeffrey Douma on Conducting the Human Voice

Jeffrey DoumaConductor 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

Published June 15, 2017
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Martin Bresnick on The Passions of Bloom

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.

 Martin Bresnick

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

Published June 9, 2017
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Meet the Festival’s New Director

As most of you know, Melvin Chen has joined the Festival as the new Director. We begin our “Meet The Director” Series with a few questions and answers that we hope will help you get to know him a little.


What was the first work of music that grabbed your attention? Any thoughts of what specifically hit you from that piece? MORE

Published November 14, 2016
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A Chat with Simon Carrington

By Janet Reynolds

SimonCarrington.by.unknownIf you want a musical sampler of choral music, you won’t want to miss the Norfolk  Choral Festival, a concert of music from the Renaissance to the 21st century performed Saturday, August 20. Conducted in part by the acclaimed choral director  Simon Carrington, who leads the Festival’s week-long choral workshop, the concert will feature works by Mozart, Bach, Byrd, as well as 21st century composers Trumbore, Whitacre and Crabtree. Twenty-four professional singers from around the world will perform, accompanied by the Norfolk Festival Chamber Orchestra. MORE

Published August 11, 2016
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