High Peaks Festival Celebrates Female Composers at Basilica Hudson 

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw

(HUDSON, N.Y.) – The Catskill High Peaks Festival brings its summer-long focus on women composers to Basilica Hudson on Friday, August 11, at 8pm. The event features various chamber music combinations and crossover repertoire including cello chorus, violin and mandolin ensembles, and the High Peaks Chamber orchestra, in works by Vivaldi and notable women composers, historic and contemporary, including Amy Beach, Lily Boulanger, Caroline Shaw, and Grazyna Bacewicz. Performers include Irina Muresanu and Peter Zazofsky, violin; Michael Strauss, viola; Yehuda Hanani, Paul Dwyer and DoYeon Kim, cello; Michael Chertock and Mikael Darmanie, piano.

Caroline Adelaide Shaw is a New York-based musician. She is the youngest-ever winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, for her enigmatic composition Partita for 8 Voices. Her career defies categorization — she performs as a violin soloist, chamber musician, and as a vocalist in the Grammy Award-winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth. Recent commissions include works for Carnegie Hall, the Guggenheim Museum, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra with Jonathan Biss, and mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter. She also frequently collaborates with Kanye West. Currently a doctoral candidate at Princeton, Caroline also studied at Rice and Yale.

Romanian violinist Irina Muresanu

“Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman” is the theme of the eighth edition of the Catskill High Peaks Festival, hosted by the Carey Institute for Global Good, taking place in and around New York States’s Capital Region and Hudson Valley, August 6-17. A joint presentation of the Carey Institute and Close Encounters with Music, the Berkshire-based chamber music organization, High Peaks features remarkable composers who stormed the barricades and helped revolutionize the place of women in the arts as it celebrates the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New York State.

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 sharing the stage with 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, N.Y. Throughout the festival and residency, historic, forgotten, and new works by women composers will be presented alongside major works by Bach, Schumann, and Brahms in performances, master classes and special lectures. This year, the festival also expands into the mandolin repertoire, with French virtuoso mandolin player Vincent Beer-Demander.

Artistic director Yehuda Hanani observes, “The societal obstacles to acquiring the vote reflect the same barriers and cultural biases that women had to overcome to have their works published and performed and that kept them from careers as creators of new music. Since many of the key figures and pivotal events of the suffrage movement took place in or near our home region in the Hudson Valley, we believe this is a fitting time and place to bring attention to the creative achievements of women composers.”

Guest performers include: Peter Zazofsky, winner of the Queen Elizabeth of Belgium Competition, soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, first violinist of the Muir Quartet, winner of two Grand Prix du Disques and founding director of the String Quartet Institute at Tanglewood; violinist Irina Muresanu; violist Michael Strauss; 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 majestic setting of the Carey Institute for Global Good provides a backdrop for ten days of music-making and fellowship, bringing together fifty of the most talented young musicians from around the world to work with world the world-renowned faculty.”

The astonishing contribution of women composers to classical music will be manifest in the programming — two main Sunday evening concerts (August 6 and 13) featuring eminent guest soloists, chamber music ensembles mixing faculty and residents, and the High Peaks Festival Chamber Orchestra; a concert at Basilica Hudson (Friday, August 11) and at the New York State Museum in Albany (Saturday, August 12) as well as in talks such as “The Schumanns — Music, Muse and Marriage” at the Carey (Sunday, August 13).  Composers represented include Grazyna Bacewicz, Caroline Shaw, Lili Boulanger, Clara Schumann, Fanny Mendelssohn and Amy Beach.  At summer’s end master students and faculty will be encouraged to explore, research and perform women’s compositions back in their own conservatories—Juilliard, Curtis, Paris Conservatoire, Oberlin, Boston University, Tokyo, Korea, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and other leading schools.


Two Sunday Concerts in Rensselaerville

The festival opens with “Crazy Quilt — Schubert, Piazzolla, Locatelli, Clara Schumann, Caroline Shaw and more” Sunday, August 6, 7 PM at the Carey Institute’s Guggenheim Pavilion.  Tango, Baroque, Romantic, popular — it’s all stitched together in an incredibly vibrant tapestry. With pianist Mikael Darmanie, violinist Peter Zazofsky, and cellist Yehuda Hanani.

The centerpieces of the second Sunday concert are Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, Vivaldi Concerto for Two Mandolins and Brahms Piano Quintet and Bacewicz Quartet for Four Violins, performed by faculty and young resident artists joining together for these chamber music favorites. This last of the Brandenburgs highlights the burnished lower tones of viola and viola da gamba.  Sunday, August 13, 7 PM at the Carey Institute’s Guggenheim Pavilion.


In Hudson

A performance is scheduled on Friday, August 11, 8 PM at Basilica Hudson, a former industrial building newly renovated and repurposed as an arts center.  Renowned faculty and international rising young artists from the festival fill the hall with an exuberant display of virtuosity and talent. Various chamber music combinations and crossover repertoire include cello chorus, violin and mandolin ensembles and the High Peaks Chamber orchestra in works by Vivaldi (with an all-ladies orchestra) and notable women composers, historic and current—Amy Beach, Lily Boulanger, Caroline Shaw and Grazyna Bacewicz.  A celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New York State with music from the demure and lyrical to the bold, propulsive and cosmic!  Performers include: Irina Muresanu and Peter Zazofsky, violin; Michael Strauss, viola; Yehuda Hanani, Paul Dwyer and DoYeon Kim, cello; Michael Chertock and Mikael Darmanie, piano; and the High Peaks Festival Chamber Orchestra.


And more in Rensselaerville…

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 showcasing top-tier young artists at the Carey Institute is free and open to the public. This year’s program also features a “Buddy Day” on August 14, in which 25 students from Albany’s Empire State Youth Orchestra and Kids 4 Harmony in Pittsfield and CHIMES of Albany will participate in a day of interaction with the residents and masters, culminating with a performance at 4 PM.


“Music From High Peaks” at Basilica Hudson

110 S. Front Street, Hudson, NY

Friday, August 11, 8 PM

Available at catskillhighpeaksmusic.org in advance or at the door

General admission $20; students $15


“Crazy Quilt — Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman” at The New York State Museum in Albany

Saturday, August 12, 1 PM


Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, Vivaldi Concerto for Two Mandolins, Brahms Piano Quintet, and Bacewicz Quartet for Four Violins at the Carey Institute’s Guggenheim Pavilion

Sunday, August 13, 7 PM



The Catskill High Peaks Festival is a performing and teaching summer institute bringing together renowned musicians, pedagogues and exceptionally gifted international students. It is held in the majestic Northern Catskill Mountains, at the Carey Institute for Global Good in Rensselaerville, NY, surrounded by the iconic scenery — mountain peaks, waterfalls and charming hamlets — that inspired the Hudson River School painters, and that continues to inspire generations of artists, musicians and writers. The intimate scale and highest level of talent make possible an invigorating ten days of discovery, exploration, bonding, and growth.  The festival has an all-inclusive atmosphere, fostering camaraderie and cross-cultural exchange and understanding. The faculty is similarly international.  In past summers, the music has focused on traditions ranging from Latin American tango to Japanese ceremonial drums to the heritage of Jazz and improvisation in addition to the classical canon. Central to the festival’s mission are performance opportunities for young artists on the cusp of their careers. Faculty and guest performers have included the most respected classical musicians of our time: guitarist Eliot Fisk; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Stefan Milenkovich, Elmar Oliveira, and Peter Zazofsky; pianists James Tocco, Michael Chertock, and Vassily Primakov; vocalists Mischa Bouvier, Lucille Beer, and Jennifer Rivera; and cellist Yehuda Hanani.


“The exciting mix of established and revered performers and artists of tomorrow joining to present some of the gems of chamber music makes for an irresistible experience,” says Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani.  “This summer we focus on remarkable women as representative of the suffragist movement; but there will magic in all aspects of the conjunction of young talent, great repertoire, and brilliant veteran performers.”


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, N.Y., 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.




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