Summer 2024: July 29th to August 11th - an overview

“Seagull” by 2024 Artist-in-Residence Jane Niebling

One of my favorite activities is planning out repertoire for the summer festival (July 29th to August 11th); 2024 presents an unusual breadth of music. Our two violinists will each feature in two very different Brahms violin sonatas (the brooding D Minor and warmly reassuring A Major), while we also have some Hungarian flavor with Ligeti’s haunting unaccompanied cello sonata, György Kurtág’s boundary-pushing string quartet Officium Breve in memoriam Andreae Szervánszky, and Liszt’s tempestuous Ballade in B Minor. We’ll also showcase two very different piano quintets: Schumann’s bright and ebullient quintet, in contrast to the meditation on sadness that is the quintet by Alfred Schnittke. Don’t worry, we end each concert with the Schumann!

Nachtmusik 2023

The “Nachtmusik” concert, held in the dark at Brown Chapel, stands at the midpoint of the five concerts and is always first to sell out. As we’ve done in the past, the concert will feature Samuel Barber’s Adagio.

The last two concerts of the festival are a celebration of our avian friends with Haydn’s joyous string quartet in D Major, The Lark, and Saint-Saëns’ The Swan for theremin and strings. We continue with a world premiere for theremin and string quartet by Composer-in-Residence Patrick Castillo based on the songs of twelve iconic birds of Newburyport. Poet-in-Residence Alfred Nicol wrote twelve poems for each bird and Artist-in-Residence Jane Niebling has created twelve matching paintings. There are also two eerily beautiful works for solo theremin by Elizabeth Brown: Three Arias from A Bookmobile for Dreamers (which incorporates birdsong), and Lightbulb Aria from Rural Electrification. The festival ends with Ravel’s ravishing string quartet.

Open rehearsal with Jon Deak

Each piece will be performed several times and I urge people to come hear the pieces multiple times. With live music, each performance is different, and you’ll also have it “in your ear,” which changes the experience. The music changes when you hear it more than once. Everyone is also encouraged to attend at least one of the five open rehearsals to observe the process by which we assemble the programs. The unusual level of access to the artists during festival week is an essential part of the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival. I take the term “in-residence” very seriously. Furthermore, many of the summer’s events are free of charge.

Open rehearsal at Jabberwocky

We’ll have our usual works-in-progress/panel discussion in addition to two “Hausmusik” reading parties, along with the aforementioned open rehearsals (with the Composer-in-Residence and theremin player) and a pre-concert talk with the composer.

“The Jury,” 2023

In something new, one of the concerts will feature an informal post-concert “talkback” giving the audience an opportunity to discuss what they have heard with the artists. I’ll also give a “guided tour” of one of the pieces. Lastly, we start the festival continuing out collaboration with two shows of storytelling, music, and puppets and Newburyport’s beloved Theater in the Open. See you in August!

David Yang, Artistic Director

Repertoire for NCMF summer 2024

Brahms: Violin Sonata in D Minor, Opus 108  
Brahms: Violin Sonata in A Major, Opus 100
Haydn: String quartet, Op 64, No 5 “The Lark”
Schnittke: Piano Quintet
Schumann: Piano Quintet in Eb Major, Opus 44
Liszt: Ballade No. 2 in B minor, S.171 for piano
Ligeti: solo cello sonata
Kurtág:  String Quartet, Op 28 “Officium Breve”
Brown: "A Bookmobile for Dreamers" for theremin
Brown: "Lightbulb Aria" from "Rural Electrification" for theremin
Castillo: *World Premiere* theremin and string quartet
Ravel: String Quartet
Saint-Saens: “The Swan” for theremin and string quartet

2023: Solenne, Danbi, Elaine, David, Clancy
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