New musical ensembles and audience favorites are among the offerings of the School of Music’s 2014 Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, which takes place each summer on the rural grounds of the Ellen Battell Stoeckel estate in northwestern Connecticut.
The festival was recently voted “Best Music Festival” of the Berkshires by both the readers and editors of the Berkshire Record.
This year, the Brentano Quartet will begin its first season in residence in Norfolk, where the ensemble will perform the Shostakovich Piano Quintet with pianist Boris Berman and present its signature String Quartet in C-sharp minor, Op. 131 by Beethoven.
The Artis and Emerson string quartets will return to perform this season, as will the Leschetizky Trio. Other performance groups include the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, the Norfolk Festival Choir and Orchestra, and Yale Choral Artists. Among the individual artists on this season’s program are clarinetists Richard Stoltzman and David Shifrin; pianists Peter Frankl, Melvin Chen, and Wei-Yi Yang; violinists Ani Kavafian and Syoko Aki, Flutist Ransom Wilson; violist Kazuhide Isomura; cellist Ole Akahoshi; oboist Stephen Taylor; and French horn player William Purvis.
The season will open on Saturday, June 14, with the gala event “Swing Into Summer,” which honors the festival’s patroness, Ellen Battell Stoeckel, who died 75 years ago. It will feature a program of music popular in her time, performed by the Flipside Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Yale Bands director Thomas Duffy. The Norfolk Music Shed will be transformed into a ballroom for the evening.
Other special events this season include a June 21 concert by the Yale Choral Artists featuring traditional music as well as new works by Yale composers Ted Hearne and Hannah Lash; a celebration of July 4 with “Music for the Fourth” by Leonard Bernstein, Antonín Dvorák and others; a celebration of Keith Wilson, a clarinetist and former director of Yale Bands who died last year, by his friends and colleagues on July 11; a performance of 20th-century Russian music on July 18; a concert featuring the music of Fauré, Ravel, and Mozart on Aug. 1 and by Françaix, Haydn, and Fauré on Aug. 8.
Ticketed concerts take place at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings. The festival offers free admission to concerts in the Young Artists’ Performance Series, which feature summer fellows of the Yale School of Music attending Norfolk’s New Music Workshop and Chamber Music Session. The ensembles and repertoires for these concerts in the Music Shed are chosen weekly. Free Chamber Music Session performances are offered during July and August on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m., as well as on select Tuesdays.
On Friday, June 27, there will be a concert of new music for guitar performed by Benjamin Verdery and Van Stiefel with pianist Lisa Moore and the Norfolk Contemporary Ensemble led by conductor Julian Pellicano. Yale composer Martin Bresnick will direct the performance, which takes place at 7:30 p.m. in the Music Shed. Admission is free.
Throughout the summer season, patrons and other festival fans are invited to make a gift to the Music Shed Restoration Fund, a campaign to help fund the renovation of the historical building.
For a complete schedule of festival offerings and information about tickets, visit the Norfolk Festival’s website. The Ellen Battell Stoeckel Estate is located at the intersection of Route 272 and Route 44, across from the Norfolk Town Green.