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Notes from David Yang

A conversation with Yonah Zur

This summer I will occasionally post conversations with the artists who were scheduled to come to Newburyport this summer.

Notes from David Yang

Composers confronting mortality

The pain started as a dull ache in my abdomen around New Rochelle; by Stamford I was doubled over in agony.

Notes from David Yang

Copland's "Appalachian Spring"

In 1982 I received the best birthday present of all time: a Sony Walkman WM-R2. Oh man, putting those earphones on….You know those stories about the audience reaction in 1895 at the screening of the first motion picture?

Notes from David Yang

Summer 2020 is ON… but not as you expect

Some of you have been wondering what we are going to do this summer with COVID-19 followed by the foundation-rocking and (hopefully) transformative events of the last few weeks. We stand in solidarity with those raising their voices in the fight against racism and in support of justice and equality. We aren’t cancelling NCMF summer 2020 but instead of our usual events we’ll have a kind of summer version of Christmas caroling.

Notes from David Yang

Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time”

Recently I’ve noticed the call of a Very Loud Bird I don’t recall hearing outside my window in the morning. It is entirely likely it’s been there all along, I just never had the space to listen pre-lockdown. Does anyone know what kind of bird this is?

Notes from David Yang

Schubert Fantasia in F Minor for piano four hands

Why can’t I get enough of sad music? My daughters hate to sit near me at the opera because I have been known to cry uncontrollably and it feels so good.

Notes from David Yang

Brahms C Major Piano Trio

You’re going to have to indulge me in this week’s post just a bit. You see, when we started the festival in 2001 I hoped Newburyport would become a kind of second home for my family and me.

Notes from David Yang

Beethoven's Opus 130

If Bach is God, Beethoven is Man. Where Bach speaks of eternal truths and the mysteries of the universe. Beethoven defines the essence of what it is to be human. I’ll show you in 40 seconds of music.In 2018 we played Beethoven’s string quartet, Opus 130. The fifth movement, titled “Cavatina” by the composer (a cavatina is a type of song) begins and ends with a slow melody that sandwiches six extraordinary measures. Over those measures he writes “beklemmt.”

Notes from David Yang

Pictures at an Exhibition

While we all sit at home in our pajamas struggling to recall what day of the week it is, let’s look back at an extraordinary solo piano recital at St. Paul’s in 2016 when friend of the festival, Amy Yang, brought the house down with “Pictures at an Exhibition.” I not-so-secretly wish I were a pianist; imagine having what amounts to an entire orchestra at your fingertips. OK, real conductors actually do have an orchestra at their fingertips but that’s different. Take it from me: I actually tried conducting once and my debut turned out to be my retirement concert (which is just as well).

Notes from David Yang

Transfigured Night

As we all hunker down indoors, “socially distanced” and grimly tracking the progress of COVID-19 across our communities, I thought some kind of distraction might be welcome. In particular, I’ve been thinking about revisiting favorite works from the last nineteen (!) seasons of NCMF. Of course, any such list of favorites will be highly subjective. One friend recently provided me with his personal ranking system:

Notes from David Yang

Michael Brown Performances Postponed!

Michael Brown's March 2020 performances are postponed. David conveys the sad news but offers some suggestions for music to lessen the corona virus anxiety.

Notes from David Yang

Reflections on composers and composing

With Michael Brown performance and discussion coming up, David Yang reflects on composers and the act of composing.

Notes from David Yang

The return of Michael Brown..... and more

March is coming, spring is not far behind, and that means piano recital. I’m pleased to report that Michael Brown will be returning for a concert (Saturday, March 28) and, the next day, a demonstration on musical interpretation (Sunday morning, March 29).

Notes from David Yang

Note from David Yang: Ensemble Epomeo 2007-2017

David Yang reflects on 10 years with a string trio

Notes from David Yang

Winter Baroque Concert (A Tale Of Tikka Masala)

It seems that around this time of year people are specifically drawn to reassuring music.

Notes from David Yang

Cooking up a Baroque Concert

Playing baroque music is a kind of going back to the basic ingredients of our art form. The groundwork for rampant chromaticism and atonality, tone poems, symphonies of a thousand, even epic operatic cycles, was laid down well over three hundred years ago. The Baroque era is when classical music coalesced into the art form we recognize today. And the music of the baroque is as sophisticated and profound as anything that followed.

Notes from David Yang

“The Gift to Urashima Tarō”: Remembering our 2015 Collaboration with Exit Dance:

With Jay Reise’s retirement concert at the University of Pennsylvania coming up in a few days, I thought this would be a good time to look back at one of the most extraordinary pieces I have ever commissioned. Jay was Newburyport Chamber Music Festival’s composer-in-residence in 2015. Based on a Japanese folk tale with Rip van Winkle overtones, “The Gift to Urashima Tarō” was the result of a collaboration between NCMF and EXIT Dance.

Notes from David Yang

Reflections on NCMF Summer 2019


Notes from David Yang

Notes from 2019 Program: Ravel

Just think what was going in the Roaring '20s in art, literature, science, politics, society. The rule book had been thrown out the window following the war to end all wars. Art Deco and Surrealism swept the Continent as the automobile and radio transformed American society. Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic making the world smaller as astronomer Edwin Hubble turned his telescope to the night sky, discovering other galaxies and changing our perception of the cosmos.

Notes from David Yang

Notes on 2019 Program: Part II "A Day in the Life of Newburyport" by Robert Bradshaw

In advance of this summer’s festival, Artistic Director David Yang offers some of his program notes on the repertoire: Robert Bradshaw Commission

Notes from David Yang

Notes on 2019 Program: Dutilleux

I’ve wanted to program this incredible, weird, and magical piece for ages. Written in 1976, French composer Henri Dutilleux’s “Ainsi la nuit” (Thus the Night) has become a modern classic.

Notes from David Yang

Notes on 2019 Program: Shostakovich

After another successful Book Salon on Tuesday, June 18th focusing on Shostakovich and the book "The Noise of Time" (by Julian Barnes), David Yang offered the program note for Shostakovich’s 6th String Quartet featured on the festival this summer.

Notes from David Yang

Notes on 2019 Program: Mozart

In advance of this summer’s festival, Artistic Director David Yang is sending out some of the program notes he has written on the repertoire, in this instance Mozart’s String Quartet in D Minor, K. 421.

Notes from David Yang

An Introduction to Summer Season #18 (August 2019) - Part I (Part II will go out in July and contain links to all the pieces.)

An Introduction to Summer Season #18 (August 2019) - Part I (Part II will contain links to all the pieces.


Notes from the Michael Brown concert

David Yang reflects on conversation with and performance by Michael Brown.

Notes from David Yang

Good News and Bad News

The good news -- but also bad news -- is that there's only one ticket left to Michael Brown’s upcoming piano recital in Newbury.

Notes from David Yang

David shares some of Michael Brown's favorite performances by other artists of works on his upcoming concert program

David Yang shares some of Michael Brown's favorite performances by other artists of the works on Michael's March 30th NCMF concert.

Notes from David Yang

2019: Our 18th Season Begins!

2019: Our 18th Season begins with Michael Brown, pianist and composer.


October News from one of our Summer 2018 artists and more...

October update from one our 2018 artists and preview of Winter Baroque 2018

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