Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival Celebrates Its 40th Season With Compositions Old and New - 27 East

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Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival Celebrates Its 40th Season With Compositions Old and New

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Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival performers take a bow after a Brahms piano quartet concert in 2022. COURTESY BCM

Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival performers take a bow after a Brahms piano quartet concert in 2022. COURTESY BCM

Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival concert in 2022. COURTESY BCM

Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival concert in 2022. COURTESY BCM

Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival performance in the Channing Daughters Sculpture Garden. COURTESY BCM

Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival performance in the Channing Daughters Sculpture Garden. COURTESY BCM

Marya Martin, founder of the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, speaks at the 2022 Wm. Brian Little Concert at Channing Daughters Sculpture Garden. MICHAEL LAWRENCE

Marya Martin, founder of the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, speaks at the 2022 Wm. Brian Little Concert at Channing Daughters Sculpture Garden. MICHAEL LAWRENCE

Marya Martin, founder of the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, speaks at 2022 BCMF concert. MICHAEL LAWRENCE

Marya Martin, founder of the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, speaks at 2022 BCMF concert. MICHAEL LAWRENCE

authorAnnette Hinkle on Jul 8, 2023

This summer, classical music is back thanks to the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival (BCMF) which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2023. When you think about it, that’s quite an accomplishment for a musical organization that was the inspiration of just one woman, flutist Marya Martin, who started by offering only two concerts that first summer while selling tickets from the front porch of her Bridgehampton home.

“It’s really is quite wild to think we started this 40 years ago,” confessed Martin in a recent phone interview. “The number of music festivals that have started and then fizzled, there’ve been a hundred of them, and we’re still in business, which is huge.”

Not only is Bridgehampton Chamber Music still in business, it’s thriving, and has expanded greatly in its more than two decades of existence. In addition to its summer festival, the nonprofit organization now offers a series of spring and fall concert as well, and has actually seen audiences increase in recent years.

“Coming out of COVID, people were so desperate for events. We added a fall and spring series, and we’ve had higher bookings than ever before,” Martin said. “Either more people moved out here from New York, or the real locals come in spring and fall when they don’t want to venture out in the summer.”

But there’s a lot to venture out for this summer — specifically, a total of 11 chamber music concerts that will be offered at four different South Fork locations between July 16 and August 13. In addition to its home performance venue where the bulk of the concerts will take place, the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, events also include “American Adventure,” the annual Wm. Brian Little Concert under a tent at the Channing Daughters Sculpture Garden on August 11; a “Landscapes and Pastorales” concert at the Parrish Art Museum on August 7; and “Turning a New Leaf,” BCMF’s annual fundraiser at the Atlantic Golf Club on July 29.

The overarching theme of this year’s festival is “Beethoven as Innovator,” and performed alongside many of the famed composer’s pieces will be six of the festival’s favorite works from four decades of commissioning new music — pieces by Elizabeth Brown, Kenji Bunch, Eric Ewazen, Bruce MacCombie, Kevin Puts and Ned Rorem.

“We were thinking for the 40th anniversary that we have a couple new commissions in the works, but it turns out they won’t be ready till ’24 and ’25,” explained Martin. “Apart from that, I realized we have this library of music we’ve commissioned that is out in the world now, which gives me huge satisfaction. There are 60 performances that you can find on YouTube that we commissioned and gave birth to. It makes me feel incredibly good that these pieces have a life of their own.”

Martin notes that the key to sharing the festival’s new music with people around the globe has been getting it all on video and up online, something a lot of other organizations came to realize the importance of during those years of pandemic-era programming.

“I was dedicated to recording every single commission the year it was performed and put it out there,” Martin said. “Composers compose the piece and it filters into oblivion and no one knows about it. So I put money aside to make sure we recorded it and made a CD, thinking in the past, and now we put it on YouTube.

“I tell the composers this and they are appreciative because it helps them,” she added. ”That’s been my prerogative from day one.”

Martin also thought this year was a good time to focus on Ludwig van Beethoven, the German composer whose 1820 works she had planned to highlight in a 200th anniversary program the year COVID-19 hit. Now, Beethoven is back on the schedule, along with the modern commissioned works brought into the world by BCMF in recent years.

“Our thought process was six composers who were all innovators in their own right, some in small ways,” she explained. “It might be in quality of sound, it might be in speed — the new musicians can play much faster, so the technique is to push the speed envelope and composers write works that are really hard.”

Though he lived two centuries ago, the notion of innovation ties in nicely with Beethoven given how totally unique his compositions were when compared to his predecessors. Born in 1770, Beethoven died in 1827 at age 57, and he was one of the later classical composers of his era, which meant he built on the music of those who had come before him.

“This music, composed in 1820, is being played exactly as it was in 1820,” said Martin. “Maybe the musicians are playing it on slightly modified instruments. In those days, the flute was made of wood, but if you shut your eyes, there’s no reason why you can’t be transported back to 1820 and Beethoven premiering this piece. How long did it take audiences to get there by horse and carriage? What were they wearing? It’s all part of the experience, realizing it and hearing it.”

In terms of Beethoven’s appeal in his time, Martin notes that he was considered to be “out there” and something of an outlier in the world of classical music.

“Some of his premieres were booed, like Stravinsky who is now considered a genius of the 20th century,” she said. “Beethoven pushed boundaries. His compositions were longer, heavy, more insistent, with more brass. Mozart’s orchestra work was very different than Beethoven’s. Mozart died in 1791, Beethoven was born in 1770, so he was around when Mozart was doing his impish writing, full of humor and life.

“Beethoven comes along and early on, is writing like Mozart. He studied with Haydn, then starts to push the envelope,” Martin added. “His hearing starts to fail, so he’s repeating notes in short succession, four trumpets, four horns, where Mozart used only two. He added piccolo because he wanted to hear.

“He died in 1827, he was 57, and at the end was completely deaf. Twenty years before, he was trying to deal with thinking he’s losing his hearing and psychological problems. He doesn’t know if he can live without hearing music. But he says, ‘I hear it in my head, which keeps me from killing myself,’” Martin explained. “Despite his deafness and other issues, he really made huge changes. You think of Mozart and the 40 piece chamber orchestra, then Beethoven had a 90 piece orchestra. His symphony No. 9 is an hour and a half long, and he wrote only nine symphonies.”

The way in which Beethoven’s pieces diverged from those written by his predecessors got Martin to thinking of the similarities in terms of the work BCMF has commissioned over the years.

“We’ve commissioned pieces from young and modern composers, and I thought about how they were very much alike, though separated by two centuries,” she said. “To me, this is a real mixture of Beethoven’s 1820 work and a piece written in 2012. They’re side by side, both have incredible energy, especially when you talk to the audience about what was going on in Beethoven’s life when he composed it, and the modern composer’s life.”

Martin feels that by presenting music from such different eras in a single program, it invites audiences to come and listen with an open mind. She has encountered people over the course of her career who admit to feeling unqualified to weigh in on classical music. But by pairing seemingly incongruous works separated by two centuries, Martin gives listeners an opportunity to take the music more in stride, if you will, and feel less self-conscious about their lack of knowledge about classical compositions.

“If we can take the time frame out of people’s mind, they come to the concert and relate completely to the music and what I’m telling them about it,” said Martin. “They’re experiencing it in the moment, instead of as a historical piece.

“I think with chamber music and classical music, so many people are scared to come to concerts. They’re afraid they don’t know enough,” Martin added. “All I want to say is, get in the door, sit and relax and see if you like the sound. It’s like looking at a beautiful painting. I’m more educated in music than the history of art, but I can still relate to the beauty of a painting.”

Among the concerts to be presented this year at the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church is one on July 20 that will feature Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 12” paired with Eric Ewazen’s 2011 “Bridgehampton Suite for Flute, Violin, Viola, & Cello,” a piece that was commissioned in 2006 by Bridgehampton Chamber Music to mark the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth.

“In his piece, Eric quotes a Mozart flute quartet throughout and I love we have these two works separated by 250 years, bound together by the project,” she said. “We’re not doing the flute quartet, but rather a Mozart piano concerto with string quartet. There’s feeling of one composer looking to another in a way Mozart also did. He loved life and sounds and making beautiful music. It’s really fun to put these programs together — and always daunting.”

Tickets for concerts at Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church are $75/$50 ($10 students). Prices vary at other venues. For tickets, visit BCMF.org or calling 631-537-6368.

Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival 2023 – 40th Season

Sunday, July 16, at 6 p.m. Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church

“Beethoven, Innovator”: Hot-tempered. Ill-mannered. Stubborn. Eccentric. Inquisitive. Driven. Innovative. Beethoven was all of these, and his music both contains and transcends all of these qualities. BCMF celebrates Beethoven this summer and his influence on composers of today.

Ludwig van Beethoven - “Piano Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 17”

Ludwig van Beethoven - Seven Variations on “God Save the King”, WoO 78

Ludwig van Beethoven (arr. Hummel) - “Symphony No. 6” arr. for Flute, Violin, Cello, and Piano, Op. 68

Marya Martin, flute; Bella Hristova, violin; Cong Wu, viola; Nicholas Canellakis, cello; Orion Weiss, piano

Thursday, July 20, at 6 p.m. Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church

“Mozart/Ewazen/Shostakovich”: Mozart and Shostakovich share a precocity of spirit and both have signature styles. American composer Eric Ewazen’s approachable style is also distinctly his own, represented here in a 2011 BCM commission.

W. A. Mozart- “Piano Concerto No 12 in A Major, K. 414”

Eric Ewazen –“Bridgehampton Suite for Flute, Violin, Viola, & Cello” (BCM commission, 2006)

Dmitri Shostakovich – “Piano Quintet, Op. 57”

Marya Martin, flute; Erin Keefe, violin; Sirena Huang, violin; Masumi Per Rostad, viola; Brannon Cho, cello; Orion Weiss, piano

Sunday, July 23, at 6 p.m. Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church

“Connections – Haydn/Rorem/Brahms”: An arrangement of Haydn’s Symphony 94 created by Haydn’s publisher is paired with Brahms’s third attempt at reworking his own material resulting in his astounding Piano Quintet. In between, the audience will hear Ned Rorem’s response to Charles Ives’s “The Unanswered Question” in his BCM-commissioned piece from 2002.

Franz Joseph Haydn (arr. Salomon) –“ Symphony No. 94 in G Major for Flute, String Quartet, and Piano”

Ned Rorem – “The Unquestioned Answer for Flute, Two Violins, Cello, and Piano” (BCM commission, 2002)

Johannes Brahms – “Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 35”

Marya Martin, flute; Erin Keefe, violin; Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu, violin; Masumi Per Rostad, viola; Brannon Cho, cello; Shai Wosner, piano

Thursday, July 27, at 6 p.m. Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church

“Festival of Color – Debussy/Martinů/Fauré”: Though French music is often characterized by color, don’t forget about the Czechs. Bohuslav Martinů’s brilliant Madrigals makes great company with Debussy’s rarely heard Piano Trio (here flute substitutes for violin) and Fauré’s deeply felt Piano Quartet in C minor, creating a vibrant and enticing tableau.

Claude Debussy – “Piano Trio,” arranged for flute, cello and piano

Bohuslav Martinů – “Three Madrigals for Violin and Viola”

Gabriel Fauré – “Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 15”

Marya Martin, flute; Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu, violin; Ettore Causa, viola; Mihai Marica, cello; Michael Stephen Brown, piano

Saturday, July 29, at 6:30 p.m. Atlantic Golf Club

“Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival Annual Benefit: Turning a New Leaf”: A cultural and social highlight, the annual BCMF benefit is an evening of sublime music and friendship. This season, BCMF is looking forward to the future while remembering the past, with works by Dvořák and a BCM commission from 2010. Tickets from $1,500.

Antonin Dvořák - “Goin’ Home” arranged for ensemble

Bruce MacCombie – “Light Upon the Turning Leaf for Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano” (BCM commission, 2010)

Antonin Dvořák – “Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81” (selections)

Marya Martin, flute; Bixby Kennedy, clarinet; Peter Kolkay, bassoon; Ani Kavafian, violin; Alexi Kenney, violin; Ettore Causa, viola; Mihai Marica, cello; Michael Stephen Brown, piano

Sunday, July 30, 2023, at 6 p.m. Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church

“Something Borrowed, Something Gained – Beethoven/MacCombie/Dvořák”: Like all composers, Beethoven learned from his peers and forebears. For the main melody of the final movement of his Clarinet trio, Beethoven borrowed a popular song. Meanwhile, MacCombie stole material from earlier works of his own, while Dvořák’s Quintet was spurred by an earlier work that he considered a failure. Sometimes, practice does make perfect.

Ludwig van Beethoven – “Trio for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano, Op. 11”

Bruce MacCombie – “Light Upon the Turning Leaf for Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano” (BCM commission, 2010)

Antonin Dvořák – “Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81”

Marya Martin, flute; Bixby Kennedy, clarinet; Peter Kolkay, bassoon; Ani Kavafian, violin; Alexi Kenney, violin; Ettore Causa, viola; Mihai Marica, cello; Michael Stephen Brown, piano

Thursday, August 3, at 6 p.m. Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church

“Beethoven Septet”: Beethoven’s most famous student was the pianist and composer Carl Czerny, who wrote over 1,000 works. His “Fantasia Concertante” sets the stage for a bright program that features a sunny 2019 BCM commission and Beethoven’s sublime Septet.

Carl Czerny – “Fantasia Concertante for Flute, Cello, and Piano, Op. 256”

Kenji Bunch – “Summer Hours for Piano and Wind Quintet” (BCM commission, 2019)

Ludwig van Beethoven – “Septet in E-flat for Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Bass, Op. 20”

Marya Martin, flute; James Austin Smith, oboe; Graeme Steele Johnson, clarinet; Peter Kolkay, bassoon; Stewart Rose, horn; Chad Hoopes, violin; Matthew Lipman, viola; Peter Stumpf, cello; Donald Palma, bass; Gilles Vonsattel, piano

Sunday, August 6, at 6 p.m. Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church

“Inspirations – Dvořák/Brown/Schumann”: Composers often draw on personal relationships for their inspirations, and all the works on this program were inspired by others. Dvořák’s friend sparked the Terzetto, Brown’s Island Nocturnes drew on her admiration of Marya Martin’s flute playing, and Schumann was inspired by his wife, Clara.

Antonin Dvořák – “Terzetto for Two Violins and Viola”

Elizabeth Brown- “Island Nocturnes for Flute, Horn, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano” (BCM commission, 2018)

Robert Schumann – “Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47”

Marya Martin, flute; Stewart Rose, horn; William Hagen, violin; Chad Hoopes, violin; Matthew Lipman, viola; Peter Stumpf, cello; Gilles Vonsattel, piano

Monday, August 7, at 6 p m. Parrish Art Museum

BCMF@The Parrish: “Landscapes and Pastorales”: BCM’s partnership with the Parrish Art Museum continues with a program exploring nature and landscapes through music. From Sofia Gubaidulina’s sparkling “Sounds of the Forest” to hunting calls found in Beethoven’s Horn Sonata, the music of the outdoors sings. Tickets $35.

Sofia Gubaidulina – “Sounds of the Forest for Flute and Piano”

Ludwig van Beethoven – “Sonata for Horn and Piano, Op. 6, I.” Allegro Moderato

Donald Crockett – “Night Scenes for Piano Trio, IV.” Night Hawks

Eric Ewazen – “Pastorale and Dance for Flute, Horn, and Piano”

Ernst von Dohnányi – “Serenade for Violin, Viola, and Cello, Op. 10”

Marya Martin, flute; Stewart Rose, horn; William Hagen, violin; Matthew Lipman, viola; Peter Stumpf, cello; Gilles Vonsattel, piano

Friday, August 11, at 6 p.m. Channing Sculpture Garden

Wm. Brian Little Concert: “American Adventure”: One of the festival’s most festive nights is the annual Wm. Brian Little Concert, featuring hors d’oeuvres, Channing Daughters wine and wonderful music in stunning surroundings. This summer, the program journeys from traditional American songs to Dvořák’s “American” quartet, heavily influenced by Spirituals and Native American music, all the way to contemporary classics. Tickets are $175.

Antonin Dvořák - String Quartet No. 12, “American”

Leonard Cohen - “Hallelujah” for voice and ensemble

Traditional - “Amazing Grace” for voice and ensemble

Mark O’Connor – “Emily’s Reel” for violin, viola and cello

Aaron Copland – “Old American Songs” for voice and ensemble

Marya Martin, flute; Anthony Marwood, violin; Amy Schwartz Moretti, violin; Cynthia Phelps, viola; Carter Brey, cello; Donald Palma, bass; Juho Pohjonen, piano; Joseph Parrish, voice/piano

Sunday, August 13, at 6 p.m. Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church

“A Seaworthy Finale”: The season comes to a rousing close with British flair. Another of BCM’s commissions, Kevin Puts’s “Seven Seascapes,” opens the program before traveling to the cliffs of Dover for Thomas Adés’s “O’Albon” and the season ends with the first BCM performance of Elgar’s gorgeous “Piano Quintet.”

Kevin Puts – “Seven Seascapes for flute, Horn, Violin, Cello, Bass, and Piano” (BCM commission, 2013)

Thomas Adés - “O’Albion” from “Arcadiana for String Quartet”

Edward Elgar – “Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 84”

Marya Martin, flute; Stewart Rose, horn; Anthony Marwood, violin; Amy Schwartz Moretti, violin; Cynthia Phelps, viola; Carter Brey, cello; Donald Palma, bass; Juho Pohjonen, piano.

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