This weekend in the Catskills:
- Simone Dinnerstein performs Bach’s Goldberg Variations, and Adam Tendler performs John Cage at Maverick Concert Hall;
- West Kortright Centre celebrates its 40th anniversary with a Gala Dance Party;
- Stagecoach Run Art Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary – fifty visual artists in the Treadwell – Franklin area will open their studios to the public. Events are scheduled at the Bright Hill Literary Center and Franklin Stage Company, among others;
- And Hanford Mills Museum will host a traditional 4th of July family celebration and a fishing derby on Saturday.
Read more at Upstater.com.
Maverick Concert Hall, founded in 1916, is the oldest continuous chamber music festival in the country. The festival, running from June to early September, presents an eclectic program of the Catskills folk songs, jazz as well as classical music. On June 28 this year the original 1916 concert, which featured music by Joseph Haydn, Max Bruch, and Robert Schumann, will be reproduced to mark the beginning of the Maverick’s centennial program. In 2016 the festival will celebrate its 100th anniversary.
I spoke with conductor Alexander Platt, the music director of the Maverick Concerts.
A research scholar for the National Endowment for the Humanities before he entered college, Alexander Platt was educated at Yale College, King’s College Cambridge (where he was a British Marshall Scholar), and as a conducting fellow at both Aspen and Tanglewood. At Cambridge he was the first American to hold the coveted post of Assistant Conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society, and as conductor of the Cambridge University Opera Society he led revivals of both Berlioz’s BEATRICE AND BENEDICT and Britten’s OWEN WINGRAVE, to high praise in the London press. During this time he also made his professional conducting debut at the Aldeburgh Festival, his London debut at the Wigmore Hall, and reconstructed the lost chamber version of the Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, which has gone on to become a classic of the repertoire. In addition to recording for Minnesota Public Radio, National Public Radio, the South-West German Radio and the BBC, his recording of the Max Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy with violinist Rachel Barton Pine is still heard frequently on radio stations across America.
Simona David: Alexander, you are the musical director for several symphony orchestras: the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, the Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, the Marion Indiana Philharmonic, and the Wisconsin Philharmonic. You have conducted other orchestras as well. Talk a little bit about your work: what does it take and what does it mean for you to conduct orchestras?
Alexander Platt: It’s important to gain valuable experience over years and decades. Conducting an orchestra whether you have twenty-five people in front of you or a hundred and twenty-five it’s like being in the middle of Grand Central Station at rush hour. You’re hearing all these disperse sounds, and your job is to sort out all those sounds and mold them together. Ultimately it’s a very mysterious process like telepathy, when without saying a word you, as a conductor, blend the sounds together by your physical movements and your inner vision of the music. Some of the greatest rehearsals in the history of orchestras happened without the conductor saying a word.
SD: Your repertoire is so extensive: the level of familiarity you have with hundreds of works – all major composers from the Baroque era, Classical era, modern composers, and you’re also engaged with other musical genres such as folk and jazz – it’s impressive. Let’s talk a bit about your repertoire and what you like most.
AP: What I like most as a conductor is the central line of mid-19th century great composers, starting in the late 18th century with Haydn and Mozart, and then going through Schubert and Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Dvorak, Elgar and Sibelius. I’m actually very old-fashioned in that regard. I do have a special love for the music Mahler because my graduate thesis at Cambridge was to reconstruct a lost Chamber version from Vienna in the 1920s of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. I think the works of Dvorak, the great Czech composer, are vastly underplayed. We literally hear two or three pieces by Dvorak, we hear the great New World Symphony, which is great work that brought joy to millions and millions of people, but the man did write eight other symphonies. Each of them is a gem. I’m probably the only American conductor of my generation who has all nine of the Dvorak’s symphonies in his active repertoire. I very much live in the 19th century as a conductor.
SD: You conduct both symphony orchestras and operas. How are they different, and how do you approach them?
AP: That’s a wonderful question. Conducting opera and conducting orchestras are two occupations that are completely different. On the more mundane level they’re completely different in regard to scheduling – one of the reasons why now I’m mostly working with orchestras. If you work with an orchestra to prepare a concert it’s one week of rehearsal, it’s three – four rehearsals over a week, and then one or two concert performances. When you prepare an opera, that is a six week project minimum, often a couple of months with many weeks of rehearsals, and at least two weeks of shows. Also, more importantly, on a musical level, it’s a totally different mode of rehearsing. When you’re a symphony orchestra conductor, you basically run the show. Even in the most egalitarian structure, somebody has to be the boss. It’s just not enough time to open up every question of interpretation. In opera rehearsal it’s inherently much more complicated. The conductor is just one of many planks of leadership, if you will. The conductor is in constant collaboration with the stage director, and the principal singers. So there are two vastly different experiences.
SD: You’ve been the musical director of Maverick Concerts since 2002. The festival will celebrate its centennial this summer. Let’s talk a bit about the beginnings of the festival.
AP: In the midst of WWI a bunch of free thinking artists in the hills around Woodstock decided to mount a festival of classical music for the relief of Belgian war refugees, which was a very noble cause at that time. It was Hervey White who founded the festival. Hervey and his buddies found a book of drawings of French cathedrals and without any engineering or architectural experience they built the concert hall in the fall of 1915 – spring of 1916. The concert hall still stands today. In 1916 began the first series of what we call the Maverick Concerts. The festival has literally been going ever since. It’s a very simple, very pure experience which I think is part of the festival’s charm: the festival has not been over publicized or over engineered. It’s a festival that is really all about the music.
SD: On Sunday, June 28 you will recreate the first concert performed in 1916.
AP: Yes, on June 28 at 4 o’clock we’ll have the Shanghai Quartet with pianist Ran Dank recreating the very first program at the Maverick Concert Hall – one of the great later String Quartet by Joseph Haydn, Max Bruch’s lament for cello and piano Kol Nidrei, and after the intermission the evergreen Piano Quintet by Robert Schumann. A great program that will take us back to the very first summer at Maverick.
SD: The festival includes folk and jazz in addition to classical music performances, and there are also poetry and acting moments as well.
AP: Yes, this will be a glorious season. On Friday, July 3 the great pianist Simone Dinnerstein will be playing the complete Goldberg Variations by Bach, a work that she has literally performed all over the world. Saturday night, the 4th of July, we have a brilliant young pianist Adam Tendler who will play the complete Sonatas and Interludes for Solo Piano by John Cage to celebrate Maverick’s historic connection with John Cage: as you know, Cage premiered his landmark work 4’33” of silence at Maverick in 1952. It will be a great season.
120 Maverick Road, Woodstock, NY 12498
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© 2015 Simona David
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Music, books, theater – this weekend is filled with choices for art enthusiasts in the Catskills.
Bearsville Theater in Woodstock is hosting a concert this Saturday, April 18 at 9 p.m. featuring singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega, a concert sponsored by Radio Woodstock. From the Bearsville Theater: “Widely regarded as one of the most brilliant songwriters of her generation, Suzanne Vega emerged as a leading figure of the folk-music revival of the early 1980s when, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, she sang what has been labeled contemporary folk or neo-folk songs of her own creation in Greenwich Village clubs. Since the release of her self-titled, critically acclaimed 1985 debut album, she has given sold-out concerts in many of the world’s best-known halls. In performances devoid of outward drama that nevertheless convey deep emotion, Vega sings in a distinctive, clear vibrato-less voice that has been described as “a cool, dry sandpaper- brushed near-whisper” and as “plaintive but disarmingly powerful.” For more information about this concert, visit http://www.bearsvilletheater.com/events-calendar/suzanne-vega.
Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild
The Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild is hosting a piano recital this Saturday, April 18 at 8 p.m. featuring Mayumi Tsuchida, a virtuoso pianist born in Japan, and currently residing in the Hudson Valley. From the Byrdcliffe Guild: Tsuchida “began playing piano at the age of 3, gave her first solo concert when she was 7, and has been on an upward trajectory ever since. Her performances have taken her to Asia, South America, and Europe as both a soloist and a chamber musician. Tsuchida made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2008, playing with the Luna Trio on the popular PBS television show From the Top, which showcases America’s most talented young musicians. She has participated in master classes and worked with world-class pianists Richard Goode, Menahem Pressler, Peter Serkin, and Andre Watts.” The concert will take place the Kleinert / James Center for the Arts on Tinker Street. Compositions by Bach, Haydn, Debussy, Bartok and Schumann will be performed.For more information, visit http://www.woodstockguild.org/mayumi.html.
Hudson Valley History Reading Festival
This Saturday April 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the FDR Presidential Library will host the third annual Hudson Valley History Reading Festival. The festival this year features four authors who wrote about the Hudson Valley history: Harvey Flad, Cynthia Owen Philip, Ann DuBois, and Anthony Musso. Ann DuBois, who last weekend participated in the Writers in the Mountains’ second annual Catskills Book Festival, will read from her book The Big Apples of New York: The Story of How New York State Became the Big Apple. For more information, visit http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/publicprograms/calendar.html.
Capital Repertory Theater
Capital Repertory Theater in Albany is hosting a preview of Hamlet this Friday, April 17 at 8 p.m., a production directed by Kevin McGuire. Written in the early 1600s, this Shakespearean masterpiece deals with themes typical of the Renaissance: the scope of human understanding, the beauty of the world, as well as mystery and uncertainty. The play opening night is Tuesday, April 21. In theREP Café there will be an art exhibit featuring paintings by artist Meredith Rosier. Rosier studied at Yale University School of Art, and received numerous awards and recognitions. For more information about this production and art exhibit, visit http://capitalrep.org/theatre/2014-2015/hamlet.
National Museum of Dance
National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs is hosting a book launch this Saturday, April 18 at 2 p.m. Crafterina, a children’s book by author Vanessa Saldago, is the story of a young dancer who uses her crafting skills to create a world of ballet outside of dance class. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://www.dancemuseum.org/events/. For more information about Crafterina, visit http://www.crafterina.com/.
Have a fabulous weekend in the Catskills!
Five art recommendations per weekend should suffice an art lover’s ambitious life up here in the mountains, but that’s not an option when there is so much to do and see. Take this weekend, for example: art making workshops at the Hudson Opera House in Hudson; the art of book making opening reception at the Bright Hill Literary Center in Treadwell; a tour of the Dia:Beacon’s contemporary art collections in Beacon; a Winslow Homer art symposium at the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie; an auction benefit at the Center for Photography in Woodstock; Bach’s Goldberg Variations at the Doctorow Center for the Arts in Hunter; Mahler’s Fifth Symphony to be performed by the Hudson Valley Philharmonic in Poughkeepsie; and a conversation hosted by author and Bard College professor Neil Gaiman in Annandale-on-Hudson. What an ambitious weekend indeed!
Hudson Opera House
The Hudson Opera House is inaugurating this Saturday a series of art making workshops for families with children as part of its Saturday Salon program. These workshops will be held every Saturday throughout the month of October from 10 am to 12 noon. For more information, go to http://hudsonoperahouse.org/2014/06/13/saturday-salon-the-guided-gallery-saturdays-10-noon/.
Bright Hill Literary Center
Bright Hill Literary Center in Treadwell is opening a new exhibit this Sunday, October 5 at 3 pm: “Erosion: Artist Book Work,” featuring Iowa artist Julie Leonard. “Making use of the book as an artistic medium is possible partly because of what we bring to the book, our collective connection with it. Since its inception we have imbued books and writing with a spiritual or magical aspect that goes beyond its physical or contextual properties. Books can act on us as an icon or reliquary does, evoking a spiritual reaction, a contemplative psychic space. My work is divided between the study of historical book binding structures and the creation of contemporary artist books,” says Julie Leonard, who is an associate professor at The University of Iowa in Iowa City. For more information about Leonard, go to http://book.grad.uiowa.edu/people/julie-leonard. For more information about Bright Hill Literary Center, visit http://www.brighthillpress.org/.
Dia:Beacon Art Foundation offers guided tours of its galleries every Saturday at 1 pm. Located in a former printing plant built in 1929, Dia:Beacon houses collections from the 1960s to the present. For more information about Dia:Beacon, go to http://www.diaart.org.
Fenimore Art Museum
Fenimore Art Museum presents a Winslow Homer symposium at the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie this Saturday, October 4 from 9 am to 5 pm. A series of guest speakers, as well as a panel discussion will address Winslow Homer’s use of color and art technique, and his importance in the American art world. Homer was a 19th century landscape painter known for his seascapes, and portrayal of rural life. In 1859 Homer opened a studio in New York City. During the Civil War he was sent to the battle field, and sketched scenes for Harper’s Weekly. Throughout his adult life, Homer also painted in northern New York, in the Adirondack Mountains. Born in Massachusetts in 1836, he died in Maine in 1910. For more information about the upcoming symposium at the Arkell Museum, go to http://www.fenimoreartmuseum.org/homersymposium.
The Center for Photography
The Center for Photography at Woodstock is hosting its 36th benefit auction this Saturday, October 5 at 12:30 pm at the Diamond Mills Hotel in Saugerties. A preview of submitted art work can be seen here. Our favorite is a black and white photograph of actress Ingrid Bergman, taken in Italy in 1949 – preview here. To purchase tickets for the gala go to http://www.cpw.org/support/benefit-gala/.
Doctorow Center for the Arts
Catskill Mountain Foundation in partnership with the Catskill Jazz Factory will present a piano concert this Saturday, October 4 at 8 pm at the Doctorow Center for the Arts in Hunter. Dan Tepfer, a French-American pianist, will perform Bach’s well-known Goldberg Variations, followed by his own improvisations on Bach. Tepfer performed this program at Le Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village back in September. The New York Times wrote about Tepfer’s performance here. For more information about the upcoming concert in Hunter, visit http://www.catskillmtn.org/events/performances/2014-10-04-dan-tepfer-solo-jazz-piano-820.html. For more information about Tepfer, visit his website at http://www.dantepfer.com.
Hudson Valley Philharmonic
The Hudson Valley Philharmonic will perform Mahler’s Fifth Symphony this Sunday, October 5 at 3 pm at the Bardavon concert hall in Poughkeepsie. There will be a pre-concert talk with conductor Craig Fleischer. For more information about this event, go to http://myemail.constantcontact.com/HVP-Mahler-s-5th-This-Sunday–3pm-at-the-Bardavon-.html?soid=1102056363639&aid=iJAsHXA2G6w.
Bard College is presenting an author talk hosted by Neil Gaiman this Friday at 7:30 pm at the Sosnoff Theater at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in Annandale-on-Hudson. Neiman will converse with Audrey Niffenegger, a best-selling author and artist. For more information about this event, go to http://fishercenter.bard.edu/calendar/event.php?eid=126895.
These are just a few highlights from what seems to be a busy weekend in the Catskills.
(c) 2014 artinthecatskills.com