Pre-Concert Discussions at Yellow Barn

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

On summer Saturdays, audience members are invited to the Putney Public Library for an intimate introduction to the evening’s concert given by Yellow Barn musicians and guest speakers, moderated by Artistic Director Seth Knopp.

Saturday, July 5

Wolfgang von Goethe's "Nachtlied", one of the most revered poems in the German language, is the inspiration for two works on this evening's Yellow Barn program. Wellesley College professor Jens Kruse will speak about "Nachtlied" and join Yellow Barn musicians in a discussion of Schubert and Widmann's treatment of it.
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Saturday, July 12

A composer's palette, the instruments he or she writes for, can suggest creative paths born out of that instrumentation's most natural qualities, or stretch them in ways that have a profound effect on a work's emotional impact. Yellow Barn musicians look at the evening's program, exploring four very different instrumental combinations.
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Saturday, July 19

George Cumb's music is unmistakably his own, not only in the atmosphere he creates, but also in how he communicates his musical intention to the interpreter. Soprano Tiffany Du Moucelle and pianist Emely Phelps speak about Crumb's setting of Walt Whitman's "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" in his Apparition, Elegiac Songs and Vocalises, examining the composer's world of sound and how he represents it in his distinctive and beautiful scores.
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Saturday, July 26

Yellow Barn Composer in Residence Lei Liang and pipa player Gao Hong bring a broad range of Chinese musical traditions to this Yellow Barn summer season. From ancient folk music to contemporary works receiving first performances at Yellow Barn, they discuss how their work has been shaped by their own cultural heritage and influenced by that of the West.
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Saturday, August 2

George Benjamin writes about his Octet, "Sketching was begun only months after the conclusion of my studies with Olivier Messiaen: the Octet was very much my first attempt to integrate all that I had learnt in Paris." Yellow Barn musicians, among them Eduardo Leandro, clarinetist Alan Kay, and composer Lei Liang, discuss the delicate baalnce of integration and independence in the musical relationship between teacher and student.
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All discussions take place at the Putney Public Library at 7pm and are free and open to the public. Concert attendance is not required.

Honoring Gordon Hayward

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Every Yellow Barn participant receives a full scholarship—an essential fact that makes the spirit of Yellow Barn live on. During the summer, Yellow Barn audiences join together to ensure the future of the scholarship program and celebrate an individual who shares Yellow Barn’s philosophy. This year Yellow Barn honors landscape artist Gordon Hayward on July 30th with a scholarship benefit dinner and concert, the proceeds of which will underwrite a participant scholarship in his name.

In addition, Gordon and his gardens are the inspiration and setting for Gordon's Garden Music, a new piece by Yellow Barn composer Stephen Coxe that will have its premiere performance in Hayward Gardens at Yellow Barn's gala event "Music in the Garden" on July 20th. (A second performance for the general public will follow on the 21st.)

Ronnie Friedman, former Director of Westminster Cares, offers the following remarks in celebration of these events:

Thirteen years ago, Westminster Cares began a garden tour as a fundraising event. We started small, three or four gardens of our neighbors. We made a little money. The next year, we nervously asked Mary and Gordon Hayward if they would consider having their garden on our tour. They graciously accepted and our small fundraiser became a major event for Westminster Cares and our community. The thousands of dollars we raise every year help support programs such as Meals on Wheels, rides for those in need of transportation, a community nurse and other services that enable Westminster seniors to continue to live independently in their homes in our community. Dozens of local volunteers help support the tour by selling tickets, parking cars, making lemonade and playing music. And some of the people who come to the gardens learn about the work of Westminster Cares and start to volunteer.

Through the Hayward’s connections, we have been able to coordinate the dates of our garden tour with the annual North Hill Symposium. The Symposium brings people to Vermont from all over the country and in turn to our garden tour. It’s no surprise that they come. Over the years Mary and Gordon have created a spectacular garden that is a testament to their horticultural knowledge and most important creativity. In addition to Westminster Cares they generously open their garden to other non-profit groups such as Sandglass Theater, which performs a show aptly named Puppets in Paradise. We’re very fortunate to have Mary and Gordon as such good neighbors.

Gordon Hayward is a nationally recognized garden writer, designer, and lecturer. He wrote for Horticulture Magazine for twenty-five years and lectured with the magazine on nine of their multi-city lecture tours across the United States. He was a contributing editor at Fine Gardening Magazine for six years and the author of eleven books on garden design. With his wife Mary, he has been developing a 1.5-acre garden for the past thirty years around their 240-year-old home in southern Vermont. They also have a tiny garden outside their cottage in the North Cotswold Hills of England where Mary is from.

The beginning of an epic tale

Monday, April 14, 2014

This year in preparation for their upcoming Artist Residency, Trio Cleonice embarked on an ambitious project: read and study pillars of Russian literature while at the same time delving into two of the great piano trios with unbridled passion and commitment. Cellist Gwen Krosnick recalls some of their early thoughts:

The opening of the Tchaikovsky trio, to Ari, Emely, and me, has always felt like the beginning of an epic tale, a huge and magical journey. One has the sense that, though the music is incredibly rich and evocative, right away, Tchaikovsky is only sharing so much. But we know that there is a huge emotional journey ahead: that is the affect, the atmosphere, the sense in the air as the piece begins! And, wildly, the parallel is perhaps the opening to War and Peace: even as Tolstoy starts it, almost unassumingly, with a conversation – a high society salon in Petersburg, with upper-class niceties and lots of French-inspired turns of phrase – we have the sense that this is the beginning of something much bigger than we can imagine or anticipate, something emotional and full of heat.

It is from this that our Russian music and literature residency began. While the world has enjoyed comparing Tchaikovsky trio to its more compact and upright Germanic cousins (Mozart trios and all else), it has been irresistible for us – and, more importantly, relevant, potent, thrilling for us – to instead put it in the immediate literary, artistic, emotional context that surrounded Tchaikovsky.

These great, great works of art - by Tchaikovsky and by Tolstoy - have sustained us through the past cold months and have kept our hearts exultant and inspired as we stepped through Boston's endless ice and sipped pots upon pots of tea. For, as Richard Pevear says, in his beautiful introduction to his translation of War and Peace (with his wife, Larissa Volokhonsky), “War and Peace is the most famous and at the same time the most daunting of Russian novels, as vast as Russia itself and as long to cross from one end to the other. Yet if one makes the journey, the sights seen and the people met on the way mark one’s life forever.” And yes, that is just it: these sights, these tunes, the people and motives and magic and wonder of these beautiful Russian stories – all of this is irreplaceable and, though we can only see the beginning of it right now, we know it will all be life-changing.

—Gwen Krosnick

PRI's The World introduces "Music of the Book"

Monday, April 14, 2014

On the first day of Passover host Marco Werner sits down with Merima Ključo at WGBH's studio in Boston to talk and hear more about Merima's personal story and the musical story behind her new work:

View this segment on "The World"'s website

See a list of all upcoming performances of The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book

Learn more about Merima's Artist Residency at Yellow Barn

PBS explores The Sarajevo Haggadah

Friday, April 11, 2014

Kim Lawton interviews Merima Ključo at the Boston premiere of The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book for this segment of WGBH's "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly" with excerpts from the performance:

From one book, many stories

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

(Photo by Michele McDonald)

Ted Weesner writes about the Boston premiere of Merima Ključo's new work The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book, and her first encounter with author Geraldine Brooks, whose People of the Book inspired Merima to embark on this musical journey:

To the untrained eye, the Sarajevo Haggadah might seem like something one would pass over on first glance. The cover is battered, the binding beat up; the thing looks like it’s been through the war. In an era when the book as a material object has begun to recede from view, we may well move on to something shinier, more readily accessible: a gently used copy of “The Hunger Games,” perhaps, or a download of the latest, hottest book for our e-reader.

But in passing over the worn, delicate volume, we’d be missing something extraordinary: the opportunity to come face to face with a medieval codex, the calfskin pages of which vibrate like a series of hallucinations, adorned with scenes from the Old Testament and illuminated with copper and gold. It’s the sort of beauty, found in unexpected places and times, that takes your breath away. And while we’re on the subject, it has been through the war. The story of this book inspired Geraldine Brooks, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, to trace the tortuous and terrifying travels of the Sarajevo Haggadah in her 2008 novel “People of the Book”. Created in Barcelona sometime during the mid-14th century, the Haggadah becomes, in Brooks’s work, the main character in a quest to safeguard and transmit the beautiful and sacred.

And now, with Passover soon upon us, the haggadah — the text recited on the first two nights of the Jewish holiday — is back in the air. Sure, most Seder celebrants will be unboxing the classic utilitarian version first published by Maxwell House Coffee in 1932. But a Bosnian composer and accordionist named Merima Kljuco, inspired by Brooks’s much-loved historical account, has dropped the Sarajevo version back into the art-loving zeitgeist. Her hourlong musical piece, “The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book,” which includes Kljuco on accordion, Seth Knopp on piano, and video work by Bart Woodstrup, was performed last week under the auspices of the Boston Jewish Music Festival and The New Center for Arts and Culture. The production is now traveling the country.

In 1994, Geraldine Brooks was a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal reporting on the siege of Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia-Herzogovina. The climate of this formerly thriving multi-ethnic city was almost universally grim. She and her compatriot wartime journalists, living in the rather inaptly named Holiday Inn, were encountering one horrifying story after another when something considerably brighter surfaced. The Sarajevo Haggadah, invaluable masterpiece of the Bosnian collections, had been located.

Only later would it emerge that a Muslim librarian, Enver Imamovic, had rescued the codex and deposited it in a Sarajevo bank vault. Seven years later, in 2001, Brooks was on hand, along with many armed guards, when the book was restored in the European Union Bank. As Brooks describes it, the haggadah meant — and means — so much to Sarajevans across ethnicities that, during the siege, she heard stories of natives spending their last coins on replicas of the book, even as they subsisted on grass soup.

At the time, dedicated to her work as a journalist, and soon moving on to cover the strife in Somalia, she filed away the experience. Yet she understood the innate power of the story, sensing how very implausible and incredible it was that the Sarajevo Haggadah had been created in Spain at a time when Jews, Muslims, and Christians coexisted peacefully, even fertilely; how the Inquisition and expulsion of the Jews landed the codex in Venice, where a Catholic priest apparently saved it — his signature is inside the book — from the pope’s book burnings; how it landed in Sarajevo and Vienna in 1894 after a faltering Jewish family was forced to sell it; and finally, how a renowned Muslim scholar, Dervis Korkut, spirited the manuscript out of the National Museum in his waistband under the nose of the Nazis, who had hoped to showcase it in their Museum of an Extinct Race in Prague. The book’s itinerary feels so unlikely that its fate often smacks of fiction — and fiction it became in Brooks’s novel, where facts meld with the creative imagination that grants flesh and bone to people, places, and artifacts alike. As Brooks has come to see it, “The book embodies the story that what unites us is always stronger than what divides us.”

Four years ago, “People of the Book” was pressed upon Merima Kljuco by a determined friend, who thought it brought to mind Kljuco’s difficult journey. “My own Exodus,” as she calls it. When Brooks’s novel fell into her hands, [Merima] felt compelled to make something out of the book. As with Brooks, incandescent art inspired at least an attempt at making more art. In creating the piece, Kljuco called upon the Sephardic traditions of the different countries where the haggadah landed, but also, in the style of Bela Bartok, she added harmonies and clusters to more traditional melodies. The new composition was created in a residency at Yellow Barn, an international center for chamber music in Putney, Vt., with added invaluable support from the pianist Seth Knopp and the video artist Bart Woodstrup.

Kljuco did not meet Brooks until last week when “The Sarajevo Haggadah” was performed for the first time in Boston. And yet having read her novel four years ago, Kljuco was not surprised upon being introduced to the author of “People of the Book” that it felt like a reunion with an old friend.

Read the full article

See a list of all upcoming performances of The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book