Norfolk Chamber Music Festival Announces its 2013 Season Through August 17

The Music Shed
The Music Shed

The Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, presented by the Yale School of Music, celebrates its 72nd season this year with performances and residencies by six internationally esteemed string quartets alongside students and young professionals from around the world. From June 22 to
August 17 Norfolk will host a roster of string quartets including: the Artis Quartet, the Brentano Quartet, the Emerson String Quartet, the Jasper String Quartet, the Keller Quartet, and the Tokyo String Quartet. The Tokyo String Quartet, which is retiring this year, will play its last concert on July 6 at the festival. And on August 3 the Emerson String Quartet will perform its New York area debut concert with the group’s new cellist, Paul Watkins.

Opening the 2013 festival on Saturday, June 22 is a choral program by the Yale Choral Artists, a new ensemble of 24 professional singers from around the country under the direction of the Yale Glee Club’s Jeffrey Douma. The Choral Artists will perform All Night Vigil (Vespers) by Sergei Rachmaninov along with a shorter work by Pavel Chesnokov, Salvation is Created.

From July 5 to August 17 Norfolk will host a six-week Chamber Music Session. Among the twelve concerts each Friday and Saturday night in July and August is a presentation of Franz Schubert’s song cycle Die Winterreise performed by pianist Peter Frankl and baritone Randall Scarlata on
Friday, July 12.

Back Camera

The Norfolk Festival, under the leadership of Paul Hawkshaw since 2004, includes a New Music Workshop led by composer Martin Bresnick, a Lecture series, a Young Artists’ Performance Series, Festival Artist concerts (Friday and Saturday nights), and a Family Day on July 14 that includes a performance of Yale’s Javanese ensemble, Gamelan Suprabanggo. This year’s festival concludes on August 17 with a performance of works for chorus and orchestra from the Renaissance to the contemporary by the Norfolk Festival Chorus and Orchestra directed by Simon Carrington.

For Tickets and Information: Concerts at: The Music Shed, 20 Litchfield Road (Rtes 44 & 272), Norfolk, CT Call: 203.432.1966 Email: Website: Series Ticket Prices: $55 – $15; $10 Students (ages18-25), and KIDS COME FREE! Special Event Ticket Prices: The Tokyo String Quartet- The Last Concert $375 ($345 ltd view) – $225 ($175 ltd view) – $100 ($75 ltd view) – $45.

About the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival

Carl Stoeckel and Ellen Battell, both from families steeped in the Yale University tradition, married in 1895 and decided to honor Ellen’s father by founding a local musical society that would bring an abundance of musical excellence to their town of Norfolk, CT. Choral and musical societies already blossomed around the region; every town had a club and a quorum of musicians. Mrs. Stoeckel had long hosted informal evenings in her home, first in the Whitehouse, and later in the church next door. A great musical festival in Norfolk would provide a natural center to a region steeped in music. When the Litchfield County Choral Union came into being in 1899, it soon became the first internationally known music festival of its kind in America, and inspired the array of music centers that have since settled across the Berkshires.
After five years of concerts on their estate, the Stoeckels decided to build a hall worthy of truly great music.

A New York architect, E.K. Rossiter, designed the building, and the Music Shed opened for use on June 6, 1906. The Shed is built of cedar and lined with California redwood, which likely accounts for its brilliant acoustics and certainly for its rustic beauty. The original hall seated 700 audience members, but after several expansions it was enlarged to hold 2,100. (Fire regulations have since reduced its capacity back to under 1,000.) Audiences began to clamor for invitations from all over New England and as far away as Texas, Chicago and California, and within five years they could easily have filled a building many times as large. The Music Shed had begun its reign among the premiere concert halls in New England.

Mr. and Mrs. Stoeckel spared no expense in making the festival concerts extravagant musical events. They recruited a 70-piece orchestra of players from the Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera orchestras in New York, and paid for a special train to transport the instrumentalists through the Litchfield hills. The appointments were eagerly sought; apart from the honor, the musicians had the pleasure of spending a week in the mountains, and the lawn parties that spread across the estate after rehearsals were soon famous.
Carl Stoeckel died in 1925 and the concerts continued for several years but activities came to a close during the 1930’s. When Ellen Battell Stoeckel passed away in 1939 she left her estate in trust for the use of the Yale School of Music, to continue “studies in music, art and literature,” and the Yale Summer School of Music/ Norfolk Chamber Music Festival began in 1941. Since that time countless gifted musicians have made for themselves a summer home in Norfolk, whether as students, faculty or performers at the Festival.

Since the beginning of the School and Festival, artists such as the Cleveland, Guarneri, Emerson, Juilliard, and Tokyo quartets have taught and performed in Norfolk. Fellows at Norfolk have included the oboist Allen Vogel, violinists Syoko Aki and Pamela Frank, clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, and soprano Frederica Von Stade. Recent ensembles have established themselves as students at Norfolk, including new music ensemble eighth blackbird, the Avalon quartet, the Calder quartet, the Claremont Trio, the Jasper Quartet, and the Miro quartet. In addition, Norfolk alumni are found in virtually every music conservatory and many major orchestras around the world, including the Boston, Chicago, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestras.

Students from conservatories around the world audition each year to participate in the festival and those that are accepted receive fellowships to cover the cost of tuition, room, and board. Since 1906, Norfolk festival musicians (including Rachmaninov, Sibelius, Vaughn Williams, in the early decades of the 20th century, and the St. Lawrence Quartet, eighth blackbird, Frederica von Stade, Richard Stoltzman and Alan Gilbert more recently) have performed on the stage of the festival’s iconic venue, the “Music Shed.”

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