(RENSSELAERVILLE, N.Y.) — Pianist Michael Chertock will be featured in “From Rags to Riches,” a program showcasing piano and cello works of Sergei Rachmaninoff, kicking off the High Peaks Music Festival on Sunday, August 9, at 7pm at the Carey Institute’s Guggenheim Pavilion. The theme of this summer’s 10-day festival is “The Gilded Age: Bohemia in the Catskills.” Rachmaninoff, whose visits to the Catskills date to the 1930s, when he was living as a White Russian exile in Hollywood, stands as one of the last links between 19th-century Romanticism and modernism. The oceanic, enveloping sound Rachmaninoff’s music generates and his ability to stun audiences with performances of his fiendishly difficult pieces helped make him one of the highest paid performers of his time, one of the most influential pianists of the 20th century, and a veritable “rock star” of classical music. The program also includes ragtime selections by Zez Confrey and others.
“The Gilded Age: Bohemia in the Catskills” is the theme of the sixth edition of the Catskill High Peaks Festival, hosted by the Carey Institute for Global Good, August 9 –20. A joint presentation of the Carey Institute and Close Encounters With Music, the Berkshire-based chamber music organization, High Peaks this year turns its attention to creative communities and utopian experiments in the rustic ambience of the scenic Catskill and Helderberg mountains.
The ten-day chamber music festival and teaching institute, directed by internationally acclaimed cellist Yehuda Hanani, offers a combination of concerts, lectures, film and master classes, open to the public and featuring distinguished faculty artists and outstanding young musicians from around the world. Festival events will take place on the historic 100-acre estate of the Carey Institute for Global Good overlooking Lake Myosotis in Rensselaerville, New York. Throughout the festival, the notion and label of the artist as outsider, or “bohemian” will be explored via performance and discussion, along with the (capital “B”) Bohemian Antonin Dvorak, who was bohemian geographically as well and whose beloved homeland inspired much of his output.
Carey Institute President and CEO Gareth Crawford announced the joint venture this month. “The Carey Institute for Global Good is delighted to partner with Close Encounters with Music hosting the High Peaks Music Festival in Rensselaerville this summer. We have previously collaborated on a smaller winter residency program with Yehuda Hanani which was extremely successful and we are thrilled to expand this, bringing together up to 50 of the most talented young musicians from around the world. Combining the theme of the Gilded Age with the majestic setting in the Helderbergs and Yehuda’s infectious zeal for his craft, promises to make this an inspiring and memorable event.”
Guest performers include: Peter Zazofsky, winner of the Queen Elizabeth of Belgium Competition, soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, and first violinist of the Muir Quartet; and pianist and conductor Michael Chertock, frequent soloist with the Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, and BBC Symphony Orchestra. “We are committed to bringing the very best artists and leading pedagogues to continue this new musical tradition, here in the breathtaking environment that inspired the Hudson River School painters and generations of artists since,” says Hanani.
The centerpieces of the festival are two concerts devoted to titans of Romantic music and highlighting their connections to the Catskill region: Antonin Dvorak, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and early Hollywood composer Victor Herbert. Like many other celebrated artists, composers and writers of the 1880’s and 1890’s, for a time they orbited around the founder of New York’s National Conservatory of Music, Jeannette Thurber, and her sister-in-law Candace Wheeler, the redoubtable textile designer, author and business partner of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Both women were founders of an arts colony in contiguous Greene County, NY where they created a summer playground for their friends and entertained the literati and glitterati of the day—with no indoor plumbing.
“From Rags to Riches ,” Sunday, August 9 at 7 pm at the Carey Institute’s Guggenheim Pavilion showcases piano and cello works of Sergei Rachmaninoff, who stands as one of the last links between 19th century romanticism and modern times. The oceanic, enveloping sound Rachmaninoff’s music generates and his ability to stun audiences with performances of his fiendishly difficult pieces helped make him one of the highest paid performers of his time, one of the most influential pianists of the 20th century, and a veritable “rock star” of classical music. His visits to the Catskills date to the 1930’s, when he was living as a White Russian exile in Hollywood. The program also includes ragtime selections by Zez Confrey and others.
The centerpiece of the second concert, “To Bohemia and Back,” Sunday, August 16 at 7 PM at the Guggenheim Pavilian, is Antonin Dvorak’s glorious Piano Quartet in E flat opus 87. “Dvorak urged American composers to break away from Mother Europe and look to their own indigenous material to write the best music they could,” says Yehuda Hanani. “He mined his own Bohemian folk material and advised Americans to do likewise. We will also include a musical tie-in to Mark Twain—a frequent guest visitor to the Northern Catskills—with a salon work by his son-in-law Ossip Gabrilowitch, and rare songs found in a piano bench at Olana, the country home of Hudson River painter Frederick Church.”
“Music From High Peaks,” with a mix of faculty and young artist-participants, has been featured throughout the Hudson Valley-Berkshire region—at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, in the orchard at Olana, at historic Clermont, at the Doctorow PAC in Hunter and the Orpheum Theater in Tannersville, NY. This August, in addition to concerts in Rensselaerville, performances are scheduled on Friday, August 14, 8 PM at Basilica Hudson and on Monday, August 17, 4 PM in Tannersville. Performers include: eminent guests Renee Jolles and Peter Zazofsky, violin; Pierre Henri Xuereb, viola; Yehuda Hanani, Tom Landschoot and Sae Rom Kwon, cello; Michael Chertock and Mikael Darmanie, piano; Baroque specialist Paul Dwyer; and the High Peaks Festival Chamber Orchestra.
Throughout the festival, a series of performances by talented up-and-coming musicians participating in the residency will provide audiences with an opportunity to catch a glimpse of some of the classical music world’s future stars. This series of “Moonlight Sonatas” performances featuring top-tier young artists at the Carey Institute will be free and open to the public. This year’s program also features a “Buddy Day” on August 19, in which approximately 30 students from musically underserved Capital Region schools and Kids4Harmony in Pittsfield will participate in a full day of interaction with the Residents and Masters, culminating with a performance in the evening.
The festival also offers a series of illuminating talks, a “Meet the Artists Tea and Talk,” and free classes and workshops offered each day.
Catskill High Peaks Festival Artistic Director, Yehuda Hanani has received acclaim across the globe for his charismatic playing and profound interpretations. An extraordinary recitalist, he is equally renowned for performances with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Irish National Symphony, Honolulu Symphony, Seoul Symphony, Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, and the BBC Welsh Symphony. His engaging chamber music with commentary series, Close Encounters With Music, has captivated audiences from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Calgary, Scottsdale, the Berkshires, and at the Frick Collection in New York City. He has been the subject of hundreds of articles and interviews in the media, and his weekly program on NPR affiliate station WAMC Northeast Radio, “Classical Music According to Yehuda” attracts thousands of fans. A prolific recording artist, he is Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and artistic director of Close Encounters With Music and the new Taipei-New York Festival in Taipei, Taiwan as well as Shanghai, China.
Established in 2012 when international businessman Wm. P. Carey purchased the campus, the Carey Institute for Global Good mission is to make a better world by contributing to a strong, educated and just society, “to bring together innovative and dynamic people from around the world to seek creative solutions to the most pressing challenges of the day.” The Carey Institute is located in the historic hamlet of Rensselaerville, New York on a 100-acre campus in the heart of a pristine nature reserve. It works with local and international partners to achieve its mission through residency programs and initiatives in nonfiction, agriculture, and art and music.
Ticket information for “From Rags to Riches” and “To Bohemia and Back”
Advance tickets: $25
Tickets purchased at the door: $30; students $10
Music From High Peaks at Basilica Hudson
Advance tickets: $20
Tickets purchased at the door $25; students $10
Music From High Peaks in Tannersville