Musical Bridges: A New Approach to
Classical Chamber Music

Melvin Chen is taking the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival to the next level with “Musical Bridges,” a new program of commissioned works kicking off in 2020.

The 2019 Norfolk Chamber Music Festival season may be winding down but Director Melvin Chen is already thinking ahead to next season — in fact, seasons beyond that — with an exciting new program. The Festival is taking its longtime commitment of presenting new works to another level and is commissioning a new piece for each of the next three summers.  MORE

Published August 8, 2019
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The Sounds of Silents… Silent Films That Is

This year’s Norfolk Chamber Music Festival open house features silent films accompanied by Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton. Learn more about how they create this special music.

The idea of offering silent films as part of this year’s Norfolk Chamber Music Festival annual Open House initially seems strange. Silent films at a festival devoted to chamber music? Hmmm.

It all comes together, however, with a closer look at the program, which features pianist/composer Donald Sosin and his wife, singer Joanna Seaton. The musical duo from Lakeville, Connecticut, have made a career of creating music specifically for silent films and performing around the world. MORE

Published July 26, 2019
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Allan Dean: 35 Years and Counting
at the Norfolk Festival

Trumpet player Allan Dean has a long history with Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. He shares some of the reasons why the Festival remains so special.

Anyone wanting proof that Norfolk is a special place for Faculty, need look no further than trumpet player Allan Dean. Recently retired from the Yale School of Music Faculty where he taught trumpet and coached chamber groups, Dean has been teaching and performing at Norfolk for 35 years “at least.”

Proximity helps, he says. His home is only 30 minutes away in the Berkshires. But an easy commute belies the real allure of Norfolk. “Norfolk Directors take brass seriously,” Dean says. “For 50 years or more there has always been a brass group at Norfolk and that’s a fantastic tradition.” MORE

Published July 23, 2019
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Cellist Raman Ramakrishnan:
Why Chamber Music?

Cellist Raman Ramakrishnan has played in orchestras, trios, and quartets. Here he talks about the different role a cello plays in each.

Wondering what it’s like to be a faculty member at Norfolk Chamber Music Festival? Cellist Raman Ramakrishnan, who is back for his second summer, and who is married to Norfolk faculty violist Melissa Reardon, shares a bit of a behind-the-scenes look and what it’s like to be a cellist in different kinds of chamber music groups.

First on why he loves it here. “It’s a hallowed place for chamber music,” he says. He’d heard a lot about Norfolk from friends who had attended, including his wife. “They always came back glowing after a summer of intense and fulfilling chamber music,” he says. “I had always heard amazing things about it.” MORE

Published July 18, 2019
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Blast from the Past: Concerts à la 1810

Paul Berry

Paul Berry hosting a Pre-Concert Conversation

Concerts à la 1810 were much different from today’s. Here are five ways concerts à la 1810 were more relaxed. Hint: eating and booing.

The relatively restrained classical music concerts of today are a far cry from those of yesteryear. In the 19th century, for instance, it was common for people to talk during performances and maybe even clap or boo, depending on how they felt about the music. MORE

Published July 11, 2019
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The Miró Archive Project:
Celebrating the Past in the Present

The Miró Quartet brings the Miró Archive Project, a celebration of influential string quartets who shaped chamber music today, to the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival on July 20.

Sometimes repeating the past is exactly the right move to make for the present. The Miró Quartet plans to prove that point as they enter their 25th anniversary season and pay homage to the string quartets who helped to shape both the Miró’s history and the history of string quartets — indeed chamber music — in America. MORE

Published July 11, 2019
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Julian Pellicano On Drumsticks And Batons

Julian Pellicano may have traded his drumsticks for a baton, but his percussion roots are never far from his work on the podium.

“I couldn’t be happier than when I’m on the podium. I get to be in the middle of that sound,” he says. “One of the reasons I was drawn to conducting in the first place is that as a timpanist you have a lot of time. To play properly you need to know the piece very well other than just the timpani part. You have to understand how to fit it into the rest of the piece and approach it in an artistic way. I like the big picture and how to bring everybody together, how to shape the music.” MORE

Published June 18, 2019
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One, In A Roomful Of Teeth

Roomful of Teeth kicks off the 2019 Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. Founding member (and returning Norfolk artist) bass-baritone Dashon Burton talks about the ensemble and his singing.

Bariton Dashon Burton

Dashon Burton

On paper, Roomful of Teeth is an eight-person vocal ensemble that sometimes expands to greater numbers depending on the work.

In concert, Roomful of Teeth is a musical trip through the world’s vocal history and traditions. The classically-trained singers incorporate everything from Tuvan throat singing and Broadway belting to Persian classical singing and death metal, to name just a few of their vocal techniques, to create a musical experience unlike choral concerts just about anywhere. Standard a cappella this ain’t.

The Grammy® award-winning ensemble kicks off the 2019 Norfolk Chamber Music Festival season on June 29. We caught up with bass/baritone Dashon Burton, a founding member of the ensemble, to learn more about Roomful of Teeth and its unique approach to vocal music. MORE

Published May 13, 2019
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Violist Melissa Reardon: From Fellow To Faculty

Violist Melissa Reardon proves you can go home again as she returns to Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, this time as a faculty member rather than a Fellow. 

Violist Melissa Reardon’s first visit to Norfolk Chamber Music Festival was as a Fellow in 1997. This time around she’s coming as a faculty member and performer.

Reardon, who is a member of the Grammy®-nominated Enso String Quartet and a founding member of East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO), had just finished her first year at Curtis Institute of Music. “I was looking to go to a chamber music-focused place,” she says, noting that among the groups she worked with that summer was the Vermeer Quartet. Unlike some Fellows who come to the Festival in an established chamber group, Reardon was there as an individual Fellow. That meant she played with a variety of people in different groupings over the course of the summer. MORE

Published August 7, 2018
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Violinist Ani Kavafian: A Varied Musical Life

Violinist Ani Kavafian shares her thoughts on her storied musical career in this interview with Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.

Violinist Ani Kavafian knows the music festival circuit — she often performs at seven or eight in a summer — but Norfolk remains one of her top stops. In particular, as a professor of violin at the Yale School of Music, she enjoys the difference in the student-teacher relationship.

“I feel that Norfolk brings the students and faculty together in a different way than we relate at school. It’s more friendly, more casual,” she says. “Playing alongside the students is always a huge treat. Coaching in that environment is all very serious but they’re having fun. It’s a little bit like camp. We stay in cute cabins, eat meals together. We talk about everything. The faculty doesn’t separate from the students. That’s the special feeling of Norfolk:  It becomes more human and less professorial.” MORE

Published July 30, 2018
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Violist Atar Arad: The Joy of Working With and Learning From Fellows

Violist Atar Arad has played at chamber music festivals around the world. He talks about the joy of playing with students at Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.

Violist Atar Arad has an immediate answer when asked why he keeps returning to Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. It’s the Fellows.

“The students are advanced and we get to play with the students, which is wonderful,” he says. “I try to forget that I’m the teacher. I just want to be a member of the group. MORE

Published July 27, 2018
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Weigang Li and the Shanghai Quartet
Returning to Norfolk After 32 Years

Violinist Weigang Li of the Shanghai Quartet talks about returning to Norfolk Chamber Music Festival for the first time since attending as a Fellow. 

The first time the Shanghai Quartet (Norfolk ’86, ’92) came to Norfolk, they were Fellows visiting the U.S. for the first time and barely spoke any English. “The Tokyo String Quartet had organized a late Beethoven Quartet seminar,” recalls founding violinist Weigang Li. “To this day I still remember the things we rehearsed and learned that summer.”

“I remember hanging out every night with the Tokyo players and Jesse Levine,” he says. “We learned English and how musicians lived their lives. It had a profound influence on us.” MORE

Published July 18, 2018
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Bassoonist Frank Morelli on
the Art of the Reed and More

Bassoonist Frank Morelli talks about the art of the reed, his Long Island roots, and how he became a world-class player.

String players may obsess over strings and swear by one brand over another, but for reed players, it’s all about the reeds. A reed can make or break a performance, says bassoonist Frank Morelli. “At a certain point as a player you’re only going to be as good as your reed,” he says. “One of the keys to success is learning as much as possible how to bend the reed to your will while you’re playing it.”

Mastering the art of the reed can be double trouble when things go awry for double reed instruments such as oboes and bassoons. Simply put not all reeds are created equal. MORE

Published July 12, 2018
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Building Community One Note at a Time

Grammy Award-winning horn player William Purvis is a regular at Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. He shares his thoughts on the Festival community and the intensity of chamber music.

Horn player William Purvis starts our conversation about Norfolk Chamber Music Festival with a story. It’s the early 1980s and he’s coming for a weekend residency as a member of the New York Woodwind Quintet. MORE

Published July 3, 2018
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Creating New Music(al) Traditions

Pianist Lisa Moore has been teaching and performing at Norfolk’s New Music Workshop for a decade. She shares why focusing on new music was the right career choice and how other musicians can make the musical leap.

Some musicians rely on the past to create their musical futures. Pianist Lisa Moore, faculty with the Festival’s New Music Workshop, focuses on the here and now, with maybe a bit of the future thrown in for good measure. MORE

Published June 26, 2018
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Teaching Oboe and… Baseball

Humbert Lucarelli has had a storied career as an oboist and oboe teacher, both at the Hartt School of Music and at Norfolk. He shares some of his teaching tips and how playing the oboe is related to baseball.

Humbert “Bert” Lucarelli’s long career started not with a particular musical moment or influential teacher but with baseball and an accident. MORE

Published June 11, 2018
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Pianist Ilya Poletaev On The Art Of Listening

By Janet Reynolds

Pianist Ilya Poletaev (Norfolk ’04) 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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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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