High Peaks Festival Showcases Russian and Scandinavian Composers

Vassily Primakov

Vassily Primakov

(HUNTER, N.Y.) – Celebrating “White Nights” of the Russian tradition, two charismatic international performers — pianist Vassily Primakov and cellist Yehuda Hanani — join forces to present a program of Russian masters Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, and Tchaikovsky, in the opening concert of the Catskill High Peaks Festival, a collaboration between Close Encounters With Music and the Catskill Mountain Foundation, at the Doctorow Center for the Arts on Sunday, August 11 at 2pm.

The second concert of the festival, “Season of the Midnight Sun,” on Sunday, August 18 at 2 p.m. at the Orpheum Performing Arts Center, highlights a range of Russian and Nordic composers, including Edvard Grieg (Norway’s national composer), Igor Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky. Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, which caused near-riots at its first performance in Paris but is now acknowledged as one of the most influential works of the last century, will be played in its dazzling piano version; and Grieg’s enchanting songs are featured. The performers include Mischa Bouvier, baritone; Michael Chertock, piano; Ara Gregorian, violin and viola; Elmar Oliveira, violin; and Yehuda Hanani. The Orpheum, a former movie theater, was renovated by noted architect Hugh Hardy, who also was responsible for restoring the New Victory and New Amsterdam theaters in New York and the Mahaiwe n Great Barrington, Mass.

The High Peaks Music Festival offers a combination of concerts, lectures, film, and master classes, open to the public and featuring distinguished faculty artists and talented young musicians from around the world.  This year’s ten day festival will focus on Russian and Scandinavian music.

The epic cello/piano sonatas of Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev reflect the same aspects of the Russian character as seen in the great literature — melancholy, mysticism, whimsy, biting humor and torrential Romanticism — as well as the added richness of Western influence from their sojourns in Paris and New York. Tchaikovsky’s Seasons for solo piano offers the signature charm and power, and, of course, the inexhaustible reservoir of melody that produced his Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty. The program provides a sweeping view of late Russian Romanticism and Modernism through the prism of three pillars of the repertoire.

Close Encounters With Music Founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani

Cellist Yehuda Hanani

Based in Great Barrington and in its 22nd year in the Berkshires, Close Encounters has enjoyed collaborations with premiere arts organizations across the country, including Jacob’s Pillow, Shakespeare and Co., Edith Wharton’s The Mount, The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, the Detroit Institute of Art, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Center for Fine Arts in Miami, and the Frick Collection in New York City.  Often centering programs around an art movement, or commonalities between the visual and the acoustic, CEWM’s thematic programming brings a heightened sense of discovery to the concert experience.  Catskill High Peaks Festival is the educational arm of CEWM, hosting 40 advanced pianists and string players from around the world.  The festival is a joint venture with the Catskill Mountain Foundation, which has helped to reinvigorate the Great Northern Catskill area with residencies by the Paul Taylor Company, Catskill Jazz and an array of activities and attractions.

Tickets Purchased Ahead: $25; $20 seniors; $7 students

Tickets Purchased At Door: $28; $23 seniors; $7 students

Information about tickets, free master classes, Stars of Tomorrow concerts and Tea & Talk: Catskill Mountain Foundation or (518) 263-2063



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