Summer 2023 - a gallery

Rhina and Jon were towering
presences this summer

Last week I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. By which I mean, after three months on the road with only a few days home I woke up disoriented with no idea even what country I was in. Turns out I was home! My body, running on fumes the final days of the festival, finally screamed “basta!” resulting in a head cold (not covid) while simultaneously reveling in what was an intensely rewarding and deeply fulfilling week or two of making music up in Newburyport.

Storytelling, Music, and Puppets with TitO
at Maudslay & Salisbury Library

We run hot at the festival, sometimes rehearsing eight hours a day along with the puppet shows, hausmusiks, panel discussions, open rehearsals, family concerts, outreach events, and concerts at night.

Panel Discussion/demonstration at Jabberwocky

We’ve always ventured outside the city limits but this summer we really played all over. Apart from the obvious nod to area cultural councils (thank you!) upon which so much of our budget depends, this just feels like the right thing to do. Like the “quartet caroling” in 2020, if the people won’t come to the music, sometimes you have to bring the music to the people.  

Open rehearsal at the Church of the Nativity in Merrimac

It was a super crew this summer with Danbi, Solenne, Clancy, Elaine and our Composer and Poet-in-Residence, Jon and Rhina.

Nachtmusik at the Brown Cemetery Chapel

I’m curious and would love to hear from all of you - did multiple listenings work? Did any of you who were reluctant about the Schoenberg come around as the piece became more familiar?

Open rehearsal with Jon
at the Newburyport Art Association

I was a bit surprised at the intensity with which people responded to Shosty 13. I'd been confident it would be a hit but was not expecting such a fierce enthusiasm for this dark and disturbing work. Then we also had Solenne’s operatic treatment of the Haydn G Minor, Danbi’s lush Langsamer Satz, and a double virtuosic tour-de-force by Kreisler and Ysaye from our violinists.

Concert at “The Space” in Amesbury

Finally, there was “The Jury” composed by Jon Deak from a poem by Rhina P. Espaillat. What. A. Piece. I’ve commissioned well over fifty pieces of music and this might be the greatest, a real masterwork. And wow - Elaine stole the show.

Scenes from “The Jury” at St. Paul’s

While the numbers are still coming in, it sure seems like our experiment in pay-what-you-can was a success. I’d love to do this for all our concerts. Classical music is not some snooty art form, it is just great music, and I want to share it with as many as possible. There shouldn’t be financial barriers to experiencing great art.

Smiles for a job well done:
Elaine, Danbi, Solenne, yours truly, & Clancy

Thank you to our army of volunteers, to the Board of Directors who work their tuchases off year-round to make this happen, to the individuals and businesses who hosted musicians, hausmusiks, panel discussions, and open rehearsals (I discovered that Clancy can subsist for a day entirely on Chococoa whoopie pies). Thank you to those who have made donations or even sponsored a concert (!), to the cultural councils and banks and organizations who make it possible to bring this music into our community. And thank you to all of you who attended concerts and came up and said hello. This festival is for you.

David Yang, Artistic Director

Download File

latest posts


David Yang

'See you next week but for now.... a postcard from England


David Yang

‍Musicians are modern-day itinerant minstrels. Stephanie, one of our festival artists this summer (violin) and I have been trying to find a time to record a conversation.


David Yang

When I was a teenager, I got a job one summer working as a bike messenger in New York.

Help ensure our continued success

NCMF relies on the assistance of corporations, foundations, and most importantly, you.

Make a GiftVolunteer