Close Encounters With Music
Close Encounters With Music has also been a commissioning organization and has worked with some of the most outstanding composers of our day: Osvaldo Golijov's (whose Pasion was declared by the Boston Globe to be the "first masterpiece of the 21st century") How Slow The Wind, composed for soprano Dawn Upshaw and string quartet and presented during 2001, is already firmly established in the repertoire. In 2002, CEWM collaborated with the David Parsons Dance Company on a new work for musicians and dancers (including Chicago star Desmond Richardson) that received its world premiere at Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood and its New York City premiere at the Joyce Theater. Close Encounters also commissioned two-time Grammy-award winner John Musto to write River Songs, a cycle for baritone, cello and piano on a range of texts connecting humans to nature and to its waterways. In addition to a full performance schedule, CEWM has presented master classes and concerts for children. Monkey, a new theater piece for kids by Matthew Guerrieri and based on a 15th-century Buddhist tale, received its world premiere in 2005.
In 2000, a Close Encounters CD label was launched. Its 2002 release, Dazzle & Nostalgia, was hailed by Strad Magazine for its "élan and panache...elegant and sparkling." In 2003, Sigourney Weaver participated in the Ozawa Hall performance "Measure for Measure: Shakespeare in Music" reading texts of the Bard and performing in the world premiere of a work by Kenji Bunch. In 2004, Jorge Martin's Hollywood Variations, written as an homage to composer Leonard Rosenman—based on his original love theme from the James Dean film East of Eden—was premiered on both coasts. Also in the 2004 season, Russian composer Lera Auerbach's Last Letter received its world premiere in the opening season of the newly restored vaudeville-era Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA.
Celebrating the rich cultural history of the Berkshires, CEWM has developed stimulating chamber music programs highlighting the Gilded Age, Edith Wharton and Edna St. Vincent Millay. In 2006, CEWM presented the world premiere of American composer Paul Schoenfield's trio for clarinet, cello and piano, included in an all-Schoenfield CD recorded for Naxos. Other new commissions have looked to Cuban influences (Jorge Martin’s jazz–inflected piece for accordion, percussion and cello), Klezmer roots (Stephen Dankner’s Klezmer Quintet) and Song of Songs (Lior Navok’s Spring Calls). In 2009, CEWM helped rectify the historical neglect of Mendelssohn’s student and colleague Eduard Franck with performances at Merkin Hall in New York City, Detroit and Cincinnati as well as the Berkshires, performing some of his superb works for the first time in 150 years.
In 2010, Close Encounters With Music returned to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and brought its original programming to the Frick Collection in New York City. A CD of Jorge Martin’s cello works in various combinations—solo, with piano, accordion and percussion—was released in July 2011 by Albany Records. Naxos released a recording of Eduard Franck chamber music in 2012 with artistic director Yehuda Hanani, pianist James Tocco, and violinist Shmuel Ashkenasi.The newest recording project is a CD of original guitar and cello arrangements with Eliot Fisk and Yehuda Hanani, due to be released by Albany Records. In 2012 and 2013, CEWM commissioned new works by Robert Beaser and Paul Schoenfield. Close Encounters With Music is particularly proud of its innovative educational programs—Conversations With, a series of talks with notable writers, artists, and thinkers—and the Catskill High Peaks Music Festival, a teaching and performance summer festival in the Northern Catskills, as well as its community outreach efforts, audience enrichment activities, and artist development initiatives.
Close Encounters With Music is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media