Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival celebrates its 35th anniversary of classical music, commencing Thursday, July 19, and running through August 19 with its thematic “Destination America.”
Preceding the 13 main ticketed series concerts, held at Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, will be an inaugural addition of five free pop-up concerts by the Rolston String Quartet on July 19, 20, and 21. These informal performances will last approximately 40 minutes each and are scheduled throughout the community at Southampton Arts Center, Parrish Art Museum, Hampton Library, John Jermain Memorial Library, and the Madoo Conservancy.
“The point is to really open us up to the community. We want to embrace the community by this open forum for people to hear music and not fear classical music. I want people to come in the door and think ‘this is okay,’” said Marya Martin, Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival’s founder and artistic director.
Martin is an international acclaimed flutist from New Zealand who came to the states as a 19-year-old Yale University student, later receiving the Ian Mininberg Distinguished Service Award from her alma mater. In 1976, she purchased a house in Bridgehampton and has been passionately committed to bringing the joy of music to the East End, continuing to showcase her musical talent in the music festival.
Actor Alan Alda returns for his third consecutive year, kicking off the main stage with “The Mendelssohns: Fanny and Felix with Alan Alda.” In this concert, Alda artistically tells the story of the two Berlin siblings who made music together at the start of the 19th Century through diction and melody.
This summer, BCMF welcomes 43 talented musicians. “Marya has a way with programming and matching musicians to repertoire that bring the audience to have the most profound and satisfying experience. It is always a great balance of the all-time-favorite classics with some rare finds and new voices, keeping it both fun and deeply meaningful, showcasing the players while always celebrating the greatness of the composers,” said violinist/violist Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu, violinist/violist of the festival.
“It reminds me of this old Chinese saying about a wise way of a life of happiness, ‘learn as long as you live.’ There’s no doubt the festival will continue to do that for the audience and the musicians. I’m already in the middle of learning some amazing masterpieces that I’m discovering for the first time for the first two weeks of the festival that I will be a part of this year!”
This year’s theme, “Destination America,” pays special tribute to the 23 foreigners who uprooted their lives to perform in the States and wound up staying. “Destination America came out of acknowledging where we are in our 35th year and how lucky we are to have all the influences that we have in the festival,” Martin noted. “What a rich and vibrant community we have, with all of these musicians coming from diverse countries.”
Martin places a particular emphasis on hard working people and their journey. Framing this theme are the composers who fled oppression — Igor Stravinsky, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Arnold Schoenberg, Bohuslav Martinů, and Bohuslav Dohnányi — and those who sought out new opportunities like Antonin Dvořák, Astor Piazzolla, Osvaldo Golijov, and Zhou Tian. William Grant Still is a descendant of slavery and from immigrant heritages are Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Philip Glass, John Corigliano, Paul Moravec, Bruce MacCombie, George Tsontakis, Mark O’Connor, Jennifer Higdon, and Kenji Bunch.
“Without sounding too political, I started thinking about the musicians and composers that come to the festival. Those who feel very lucky to be in this country,” Martin said.
Concluding this year’s festival on August 19 will be a newly commissioned and world premiere song cycle by Buffalo, NY native and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec, and two works by Johannes Brahms in “Brahms in A New Country.” These five movements will take the audience on a musical journey of what it was like to come to America for the first time.
Other highlights include the BCMF annual benefit, consisting of a one-hour program followed by dinner at the Atlantic Golf Club on July 28, and the annual Wm. Brian Little Concert, dedicated to the late BCMF board member, on August 10 under the tent at Channing Sculpture Garden next to Channing Daughters Winery.
Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church is located on 2429 Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton. For a full schedule of events and pricing, visit www.bcmf.org or call 631-537-6368.