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Tony Winner Anaïs Mitchell; Singer-Songwriter John Hiatt; Pianists Stephen Hough, Aaron Diehl and Brad Mehldau; Early Music from Soprano Sherezade Panthaki Highlight Caramoor’s 2019-20 Fall-Spring Season
Source: 21C
05/07/2019

With expanding audiences and a lineup that continues to go from strength to strength in the summer, Caramoor also remains a hub for musical and artistic exploration all year round. The 2019-20 fall-spring season offers a wealth of the diverse and imaginative programming with which the Westchester venue has long been synonymous, all presented indoors amid the authentic Renaissance furniture, paintings dating from the 16th century, and terra cotta reliefs of the historic Rosen House Music Room. Singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, whose folk opera Hadestown just won eight Tony Awards, performs on September 27. A trio of outstanding pianists are featured in the month of April: distinguished British classical master Stephen Hough (April 26), jazz great Aaron Diehl with his trio, presented in collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center (April 18), and influential jazz pianist and composer Brad Mehldau (April 4). Early music comes courtesy of Sherezade Panthaki in concert with the Helicon Ensemble (Oct 20), violinist Rachel Podger (Sep 22), and the female vocal trio ModernMedieval (Dec 14). All three of the mentorship programs through which Caramoor serves as an incubator for exceptional young talent are showcased, with two concerts featuring the Evnin Rising Stars (Nov 2 & 3), one presented by the Schwab Vocal Rising Stars (March 15), and two programs with the incoming Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence, the Thalea Quartet (Nov 17 & May 3). A Roots music benefit with the legendary John Hiatt (Dec 7) plus Roots music by Della Mae (May 9); the Miró Quartet playing touchstones of the repertoire by Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert (March 22); Tony Award nominees Laura Osnes and Tony Yazbeck in an evening of Gershwin (May 2); and many other artists and events grace the Rosen House stage this fall and spring season.

Early Music

Soprano Sherezade Panthaki, who starred in last summer’s production of Handel’s Atalanta at Caramoor, joins The Helicon Ensemble, led by director and harpsichordist Avi Stein, for a concert of early music from Vivaldi, Handel, Purcell and more called “Love and Revenge: The Baroque Diva.” Panthaki has long been a star in the realm of early music, about which a recent glowing review by San Francisco critic Joshua Kosman in SF Gate leaves no doubt:
“It becomes increasingly difficult to find words that will adequately convey the multifold splendor of her singing. It is full-bodied and rich in coloration, yet her phrases move with all the litheness and grace of a dancer. She reaches notes that other singers can only eye with envy, and does so with effortless precision. She tears through the most demanding passagework without batting an eye or missing a beat. Her diction is flawless. She’s a phenomenon, and only getting more marvelous with each passing year.”
The Helicon Foundation was established in 1985 by harpsichordist Albert Fuller as a forum for exploring chamber music in a historical context. It produces an annual subscription series of symposiums to explore particular musical and cultural questions, as well as releasing commercial recordings on period instruments. Stein has served as Artistic Director of the Foundation since 2013, and is Associate Organist and Choirmaster at Trinity Church Wall Street in Manhattan.
 
Rachel Podger, “the unsurpassed British glory of the baroque violin” (The Times of London), opens Caramoor’s fall season with a solo concert of early music by Bach, Tartini, Matteis and Biber. Podger has established herself as a leading interpreter of Baroque and Classical music, and was the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation Bach Prize in 2015.  Gramophone’s “Artist of the Year” for 2018, she is the founder and Artistic Director of the Brecon Baroque Festival and her ensemble Brecon Baroque.
 
Vocal ensemble ModernMedieval presents “A Midwinter Feast” at Caramoor in December. The all-female vocal trio was created by mezzo-soprano Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, who from 2000-2016 was a member of the vocal quartet Anonymous 4. She is joined by singers drawn from some of the country's leading early and new music ensembles, including Roomful of Teeth and The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, for a program that includes beloved English medieval and Renaissance carols, as well as the premiere of a new work by Horner-Kwiatek  titled Comes Winter’s DayClassical Voice North America raves: “For those who miss the commitment and quality of Anonymous 4 in the realms of medieval and contemporary music, rest assured that ModernMedieval has taken up the tapestry without dropping a stitch.”  Between the two afternoon concerts, audience members are encouraged to take self guided tours of the historic Rosen House.

Chamber Music, Young Artist Programs

The Miró Quartet – celebrating its 25th anniversary this season – presents a program of seminal string quartets: Mozart’s “Hunt” quartet, the last of a set of six dedicated to Haydn; Beethoven’s “Serioso” quartet, described by the composer in a letter as “written for a small circle of connoisseurs and … never to be performed in public” because he considered it too experimental; and Schubert’s beloved “Death and the Maiden,” named after his song that furnished the theme for the quartet’s second movement. The Miro Quartet was Caramoor’s 2000-01 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence, the second quartet to hold this distinction, and it has continued to perform in Katonah in the years since then.
 
The 2019-20 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence is the Thalea Quartet. The quartet’s fall program comprises Copland’s early Movement for String Quartet, perhaps written as an assignment when he was studying composition with Nadia Boulanger; Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 8 in E minor, the second of his “Razumovsky” quartets; and two works by twentieth-century composer Florence Price, the first African-American woman to have a work performed by a major orchestra (the Chicago Symphony in 1933). The quartet performs her Folk Songs in Counterpoint, a technically challenging work which draws melodic material from spirituals and folksongs, before being joined by pianist Michelle Cann for a Piano Quintet arrangement of Price’s Piano Concerto. The concert highlights a yearlong residency that, in addition to two performances, sees the Thalea Quartet provide classroom-based instruction and clinics in Caramoor’s outstanding educational outreach program and appear in Rob Kapilow’s “What Makes It Great?” lecture (see below).
 
Young artists from Caramoor’s chamber mentorship program, Evnin Rising Stars, perform in a pair of concerts in the fall, for which the program’s Artistic Director, Avery Fisher Prize-winning violinist Pamela Frank, is joined by distinguished artists David Shifrin, clarinet, and Leon Fleisher, piano. Participating young artists are Rubén Rengel and Maria Ioudenitch on violin; Zoë Martin-Doike and Zhanbo Zheng on viola; Oliver Herbert and Tim Petrin on cello; and Janice Carrisa on piano. Over the course of the two programs, the young instrumentalists take on clarinet quintets by Brahms and Mozart, a Beethoven Piano Quartet and his “Harp” String Quartet, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12, and Stravinsky’s L’histoire du Soldat Suite, which includes the world premiere of new narration for the trio version by composer and scholar Bruce Adolphe, commissioned by Caramoor and to be read by Leon Fleisher.
 
Lauded by The Guardian for “the most perfect piano playing conceivable” and by the Washington Post as “a virtuoso who begins where others leave off,” British pianist, composer and writer Stephen Hough plays a recital at Caramoor ranging from Bach to Liszt and including one of his own compositions: his Fourth Piano Sonata. In a career stretching over more than three decades, Hough has recorded more than 50 albums, many of which have garnered international prizes including the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, Diapason d’Or, several Grammy nominations, Gramophone’s “Record of the Year” Award in 1996 and 2003, and the same publication’s “Gold Disc” Award in 2008, which named his complete Saint-Saëns Piano Concertos as the best recording of the past 30 years. Hough was the first classical performer to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (in 2001), and was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2014.
 
Led by Artistic Director Steven Blier, the singers of Caramoor’s Schwab Vocal Rising Stars program take part in a creatively curated concert titled “The Art of Pleasure” in the spring. Four young singers and a pianist perform works by Rachmaninoff, Bernstein, Tom Lehrer, John Musto, and many others. Assisted by Michael Barrett, Associate Director of the New York Festival of Song (NYFOS), and developed in conjunction with NYFOS, the week will include daily coaching, rehearsals and workshops, and culminate in this Music Room performance exploring the wealth and breadth of song repertoire.

Roots Music: Anaïs Mitchell Highlights the Fall Season

Named “one of the greatest songwriters of her generation” by NPR, Anaïs Mitchell plays an intimate show in the Music Room on September 27. Her blend of narrative folksong, poetry and balladry can be heard on six full-length albums, including 2010’s Hadestown, a folk opera based on the Orpheus myth. The stage show based on that album was first produced Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop, opened at London's National Theatre in 2018, and transferred to Broadway in April 2019. The show has been a hit with critics and audiences alike: the New York Times called it “inventive, beguiling and spellbinding.” After winning six Outer Critics Circle Awards, including “Outstanding New Broadway Musical” and “Outstanding New Score,” the show recently won “Best Musical” at the Tony Awards, along with “Best Original Score” and six more of the 14 categories in which it had been nominated.
 
Legendary singer-songwriter John Hiatt plays a special benefit concert this winter to support Caramoor’s Music Room programming throughout the year. His first album was released in 1974, and he released his 23rd studio album – The Eclipse Sessions – last fall. Called “one of rock’s most astute singer-songwriters of the last 40 years” by the Los Angeles Times, his songs have been recorded by artists as diverse as Bob DylanWillie NelsonBonnie RaittEmmylou HarrisIggy PopRosanne Cash, B.B. King, the Jeff Healey Band, and dozens more. He has a star on Nashville’s Walk of Fame, received the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting, and has been inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. A cocktail reception will follow Hiatt’s performance.
 
Formed in Boston in 2009, Della Mae is a Nashville-based all-female string band, with a style that blends traditional mountain music and modern singer-songwriter sensibilities. They were the International Bluegrass Music Associations’s “Emerging Artists of the Year” in 2013, Grammy nominees in 2014 for their debut album on Rounder Records, named among Rolling Stone’s “10 bands to watch for in 2015,” and have since traveled to over 30 countries spreading peace and understanding through music. Their mission is to make great music and showcase top female musicians, while helping to improve opportunities for women and girls through advocacy, mentorship, programming, and performance.

Jazz in the Music Room: In collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center

Classically trained pianist Aaron Diehl will be presented at Caramoor in collaboration with the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center, a partnership now in its fifth season. Diehl has made an indelible mark on the jazz world over the last 15 years, establishing himself as one of the preeminent interpreters of the Great American Songbook, both with his trio and as musical director and arranger for vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. He and Salvant have appeared at Caramoor together, and he made one of his first solo appearances in the Venetian Theater in 2008, which was recorded for his first album, Live at Caramoor. In recent years he has increasingly been involved in the performance of classical works, including participating in the 2014 New York premiere of Philip Glass’s complete Etudes at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and performing Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F at the New York Philharmonic opening gala in 2016. This musical polymath will perform as part of a jazz trio at Caramoor.
 
Brad Mehldau has been called “the most influential jazz pianist of the last 20 years” (New York Times). He has performed around the world since the early 1990s in various configurations, most often as a solo pianist or with his trio, and often performing his original compositions. His starry list of frequent collaborators has included saxophonist Joshua Redman and mandolinist Chris Thile, among many others, and he has recorded his own songs with soprano Renée Fleming and mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter. He curated a four-concert jazz series for two years running at London’s Wigmore Hall, and was the first jazz artist to be in residence at Carnegie Hall as holder of the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair. His long list of accolades includes many Grammy nominations, a host of Downbeat Reader’s Poll wins in multiple categories, the Miles Davis Award at the Montreal Jazz Festival, and Germany’s ECHO Music Prize.
 
Also appearing as part of Caramoor’s collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center is vocalist Veronica Swift, who returns to Caramoor after a rousing performance at the 2018 Jazz Festival. The second place winner in 2015’s Thelonious MonkJazz Competition, the 25-year-old Swift has already performed all over the world with top names like Emmet Cohen, Wynton Marsalis, and Benny Green, was the headliner for the Telluride Jazz Festival in 2016, and began a residency the following year at Manhattan’s Birdland, where she still makes regular appearances on breaks between tours.

Lecture/Concert: “What Makes It Great?”

Multi-talented musician Rob Kapilow brings “What Makes It Great?” to Caramoor, offering an engaging and in-depth introduction to Beethoven’s First String Quartet with the help of the resident Thalea Quartet, Caramoor’s 2019-20 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence. As featured on PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center and NPR’s Performance Today, Kapilow’s signature lecture series takes listeners inside the music, where he unravels, slows down, and recomposes key passages to help audiences hear what makes each piece so extraordinary. “Mr. Kapilow has a remarkable gift for making academic analysis not only accessible but compelling,” explains the New York Times. “You hang on to every word and note.” As the Boston Globe adds: “It’s a cheering thought that this kind of missionary enterprise did not pass from this earth with Leonard Bernstein. Rob Kapilow is awfully good at what he does. We need him.” Following a complete performance of the work there will be a Q&A session with all the artists.

Cabaret: Laura Osnes and Tony Yazbeck

Tony Award nominees Laura Osnes and Tony Yazbeck ­­– who co-starred in a 25th anniversary concert performance of Crazy for You at David Geffen Hall in 2017 – make their Caramoor debut with an evening celebrating the music of George Gershwin. Osnes played the title character in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella on Broadway, for which she won a Drama Desk Award, and plays Shirley MacLaine in the FX series Fosse/Verdon. Yazbeck, whose Broadway credits include On the Town and Finding Neverland, also starred this past spring in the Classic Stage Company production of Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock. The benefit performance will be followed by a reception.

About Caramoor

Caramoor is a performing arts center located on a unique 90-acre estate with Italianate architecture and gardens in Westchester County, NY. It enriches the lives of its audiences through innovative and diverse musical performances of the highest quality. Its mission also includes mentoring young professional musicians and providing educational programs for young children centered around music. Audiences are invited to come early to explore the beautiful grounds; tour the historic Rosen House, a stunning mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places; and, in the fall-spring season, discover beautiful music in the optimal chamber music setting of the extraordinary Music Room. Summer concerts take place in two outdoor theaters: the acoustically superb Venetian Theater, which seats approximately 1,500, and the more intimate, romantic Spanish Courtyard, which seats around 470. Caramoor’s gardens, also used for concerts and the seasonal sound exhibition Sonic Innovations, are well worth the visit and include nine unique perennial gardens. Among them are a Sense Circle for the visually impaired, the Sunken Garden, a Butterfly Garden, the Tapestry Hedge, and the Iris and Peony Garden.
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