Harvard's Avi Loeb to speak at Yellow Barn

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

On July 20, 1969, the first Yellow Barn musicians gathered to watch the first moon landing together. This summer, Yellow Barn will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing on Saturday, July 20, 2019 with a pre-concert discussion lead by Professor Avi Loeb, followed by a performance in The Big Barn of music inspired by the moon.

Loeb's pre-concert discussion will touch on the significance of the moon landing, cosmic modesty, and the search for interstellar life. The event will take place at the Putney Public Library at 6:45pm on July 20, and will end with a Q&A session moderated by Artistic Director Seth Knopp.

Loeb comes to Yellow Barn from Harvard University, where he is chair of the Department of Astronomy and founding director of Harvard's Black Hole Institute. He is also the director of the Institute for Theory and Computation at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Loeb has authored nearly 700 research articles and four books which pioneered several new frontiers in astrophysics and cosmology.

In 2017 Scientific American published his essay entitled "The Case for Cosmic Modesty." In his essay, Loeb argues for the existence of primitive and intelligent forms of life in the universe. He writes:

Many people, however, still believe we might be at the center of the biological universe; namely, that life is rare or unique to Earth. In contrast, my working hypothesis [...] is that we are not special in general, not only in terms of our physical coordinates but also as a form of life. Adopting this perspective implies we are not alone. There should be life out there in both primitive and intelligent forms.

Loeb also spoke about these ideas at a TEDx event at Harvard College: 
Learn more about Loeb by watching this brief documentary from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics:

One word to describe YAP

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

At the conclusion of the 2019 Young Artists Program, we asked each YAP musician to describe their experience in one word. Here is what they said:

"Wonderful" - Haichun Wang
"Amazing" - Meng-Chieh (Jessie) Chiang
"Exquisite" - Jonah Kernis
"Remarkable" - Lydia Rhea
"Meaningful" - Matthew Pinder
"Innovative" - Anoush Pogossian
"Beautiful" - Benjamin Champion
"Rewarding" - Elise Arancio
"Undulating" - Graham Cohen
"Captivating" - Grant Houston
"Fant(YAP)stic" - Theodore Haber
"Illuminating" -Gabriel Crist
"Mind-opening" -Lucas Amory
"Inspiring" -Yi-Mei Templeman
"Energizing" -Hsi-yuan (Elisabeth) Chang
"Exhilirating" -Claire Thaler
"Unforgettable" -Da Young (Rachel) Lim
"Memorable" -Lindan Burns
"Transformative" -Phoebe Liu
"Growth" -Julian Snaige-Seney
"Intensive" -Kun Yan
"Intense" -Cheng Io Lo
"Motivating" -Shengyu Meng
"Motivating" -Jisoo Kim
"Motivating" -Colin Crandal
"Joyful" -Yu-Wen Lu
"Collaborative" -Hannah Ishizaki
"Love" -Haneul Park
"Wholesome" -Michelle Li
"Lovely" -Mingyu Son
"Welcoming" -Ian Maloney
"Family" -Dawn Kim

A New Yellow Barn Position

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Yellow Barn creates new Managing Director position, appoints Maria Basescu 

On the eve of its 50th Anniversary season, Yellow Barn has filled a new senior-level staff position. This coming September, Maria Basescu will assume the role of Managing Director, joining Executive Director Catherine Stephan and Artistic Director Seth Knopp in positioning Yellow Barn for its next 50 years.

As a creative partner, Ms. Basescu will have an essential position at one of the most highly regarded chamber music centers in the world. Seth Knopp, appointed by founders David and Janet Wells in 1997, said, “For many years Yellow Barn has had the pleasure to work with Maria at Next Stage, Putney’s treasured performance venue. Her deeply emotional connection to the arts, her belief that lives can be changed when we communicate through them, and her unique ability to turn that connection and belief into a meaningful reality, will have a profound impact on the work we do at Yellow Barn.”

Ms. Basescu completes a staff restructuring for this venerable arts institution based in southeastern Vermont, with a national agenda and a growing international presence. “Maria is the ideal person for this new position,” said Catherine Stephan. “She brings significant insight and understanding to Yellow Barn, together with an innate ability to manage the scope and geographic breadth of our year-round programs.” In addition to an array of responsibilities that are critical to the daily operation of Yellow Barn’s programs (its 50-year-old summer festival; the Young Artists Program in June; the first Artist Residencies program in the United States for performing musicians; and national tours with its one-of-a-kind traveling stage, Yellow Barn Music Haul), Ms. Basescu will contribute directly to the implementation of Yellow Barn’s strategic plan, including taking Yellow Barn Music Haul to scale and establishing an artists’ residence and center for music and social dialogue.

Maria Basescu has been the founding Executive Director for Next Stage Arts Project since 2013. Jim Johnson, Chair of the NSAP Board of Directors, said, "Maria’s work at Next Stage has been instrumental in positioning the organization for the next phase of growth. She was our first Executive Director, and guided us through the modernization of 15 Kimball Hill and helped dramatically expand the reach of Next Stage programming. We wish Maria well in her new role, and look forward to our continued collaborations with Yellow Barn."

Ms. Basescu’s deep experience in arts administration includes serving as President of Annapurna Concerts, Public Relations Director for Emerson College’s Division of Performing Arts and Associate Director of Media and Public Relations for the Boston Mayor’s Office of Business and Cultural Development. She has also served as a senior executive in communications and external affairs for Northern Berkshire Healthcare, the Brattleboro Retreat and Marlboro College, and as Senior Advisor with the strategic communications firm Denterlein.

Ms. Basescu has a B.A. in Sociology from Dartmouth College, is a graduate of the Snelling Center for Government’s Vermont Leadership Institute and a member of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals.

Said Basescu, “I am thrilled and honored to be joining the outstanding Yellow Barn team. I look forward to supporting the creative passion, excellence and growing international reputation of this exceptional organization.”

Young Artists Program musician interviews

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

This week we sat down and talked with two of our YAP musicians, Dawn Kim and Lydia Rhea.

Dawn, 19, is a violinist studying at The Juilliard School. In her interview, Dawn shares her approach to chamber music.

While playing chamber music, it’s really important not only to listen to yourself while playing, but listen to your chamber group members. And also being open to everyone’s suggestions.

Score studying is very important and also listening to various recordings to get an idea of the piece. Not necessarily to use their ideas but to get a sense of how the piece is supposed to go.

Sightreading music with friends can be a really fun way to learn more rep and just have a good time.

And lastly, the biggest thing about being in a chamber group is trusting each other and going on this amazing journey and trusting that at the end of it all we will all be better musicians.

Lydia, 19, is a cellist studying at the Cleveland Institute of Music. In her interview, Lydia shares her preparation process before a performance. 

My mental preparation for a performance starts a few weeks before the actual performance. I’d say about two or three weeks beforehand, I start doing run-throughs of a piece. I don’t let myself stop because that’s when I take mental notes of any pitfalls I might have, of any memory slips that might be happening. I find that when you are doing mock run-throughs of your pieces for an audience, it puts you in a much different mental state than you would be in when you’re doing it in your own practice room.

After you’ve mentally prepared yourself for everything– if I have never been in the space before that I’m going to be performing, I often Google Image [search] the stage and the hall so I can mentally set myself up for knowing what the stage is going to look like. I practice walking into a room. You have to practice sitting outside a room for ten minutes beforehand and walking in because I think that waiting period is something we don’t practice a lot, but it’s something that happens at every single performance that you will ever do. You don’t get to play a shift thirty times and then go on stage and do it. You have to sit there and make sure it’s an internalized within yourself beforehand.

The day of a performance, I am super picky about everything that I have in my bag. I have my rosin, I have my rock stop, a stand if I need it, my iPad, back up music­– everything like that. I triple check everything. On the way to the performance, I’m totally one of those people that plays through the piece in my head, doing any spots that I might have run-throughs with. That, for me, creates a road map in my head and it makes me feel much more secure once I get on stage.

When I’m back stage, I definitely take deep breaths, especially if it’s a solo performance and I’m not in a chamber group or a chamber setting. I tend to stay to myself. Be polite to everyone around you, but stay in your own mental space so you aren’t exuding too much energy, and you can just stay really internalized with what you are going to say and how you’re going to present yourself onstage.

Right before I go onstage, I always tell myself, “No matter what happens– no matter if the lights go out or you forget everything or a disaster happens– nobody’s going to die. We’re just making music and we’re all here to share that music with other people.” If I can just remind myself that I do it because I love performing and I love telling a story to people, and I’m there to move an audience and I’m not there to perform for myself– that kind of removes this element of ego from the performance and it helps me have a lot more perspective in what I’m doing and what I’m trying to say. All those hours of practice leading up to it are really just so that you can give the best voice possible to what you are expressing to the audience as you possibly can and not to be like, “Oh, look at how cool I am and what I can do!” I think removing yourself from that aspect is something that I do for myself backstage and just really think about the music and the story that it’s trying to tell and hope that it moves the audience.

Watch Dawn and Lydia apply these tips at our final Young Artists Program concerts on June 27 and June 28, 2019! Both performances take place at 8pm in The Big Barn.

Music No Boundaries: NYC 2019

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Music No Boundaries: NYC 2019

May 27-29, 2019

Yellow Barn Music Haul's third annual trip to NYC spanned three days of performances in Manhattan and Queens with 14 musicians performing on street corners, in neighborhood plazas, and at city parks.

Titled “Music No Boundaries: New York City,” Seth Knopp’s programming included performances of Schumann's Carnival and Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, as well as a midday performance dedicated to Bach's cello suites. 

See below for the list of performers and the full schedule of locations and programs.


Natasha Brofsky cello

Julia Bruskin cello

Matthew Chen cello

Emi Ferguson flute/piccolo

Jean-Michel Fonteneau cello

Tomer Gewirtzman piano

Romie de Guise-Langlois clarinet/bass clarinet

Matthew Katz cello

Seth Knopp piano

David McCarroll violin/viola

Angela Park cello

Astrid Schween cello

Lucy Shelton voice

Aaron Wolff cello

Sound Engineer: Dev Ray

Stage Managers: Michael Bradley Cohen and Christopher Grant


Yellow Barn is grateful to the following people and associations for making this tour possible:

Kurt Cavenaugh and the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership

Phil Gordon and the Lincoln Square BID

Owen Harang and the 34th Street Partnership

Andrew Ronan, Community Partnerships, NYC DOT

Full Schedule

Monday, May 27

Diversity Plaza, Queens
Robert Schumann: Carnival
Tomer Gewirtzman, piano
Arnold Schoenberg: Pierrot Lunaire (Moonstruck Pierrot)
Performed in English
Lucy Shelton, Sprechstimme; Emi Ferguson, flute/piccolo; Romie de Guise-Langlois, clarinet/bass clarinet; David McCarroll, violin/viola; Jean-Michel Fonteneau, cello; Seth Knopp, piano

Tuesday, May 28

Corona Plaza, Queens
J.S. Bach: Complete Suites for Solo Cello
Natasha Brofsky, Julia Bruskin, Matthew Chen, Jean-Michel Fonteneau, Michael Katz, Aaron Wolff

6:30–8:30pm *New start time
Plaza33, Manhattan
Robert Schumann: Carnival
Tomer Gewirtzman, piano
Arnold Schoenberg: Pierrot Lunaire (Moonstruck Pierrot)
Performed in English
Lucy Shelton, Sprechstimme; Emi Ferguson, flute/piccolo; Romie de Guise-Langlois, clarinet/bass clarinet; David McCarroll, violin/viola; Jean-Michel Fonteneau, cello; Seth Knopp, piano

Wednesday, May 29

Richard Tucker Park, Manhattan
J.S. Bach: Complete Suites for Solo Cello
Natasha Brofsky, Matthew Chen, Jean-Michel Fonteneau, Michael Katz, Angela Park, Astrid Schween, Aaron Wolff– Complete Suites for Solo Cello by J.S. Bach

Flatiron South Plaza, Manhattan
Robert Schumann: Carnival
Tomer Gewirtzman, piano
Arnold Schoenberg: Pierrot Lunaire (Moonstruck Pierrot)
Performed in English
Lucy Shelton, Sprechstimme; Emi Ferguson, flute/piccolo; Romie de Guise-Langlois, clarinet/bass clarinet; David McCarroll, violin/viola; Jean-Michel Fonteneau, cello; Seth Knopp, piano

In Memoriam Janet Wells (1928-2018)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

It is with deep sadness that we write with news that Janet Wells passed away on Saturday in the home that she shared with David, her partner in love and music. Janet was always truly herself with all who knew her; a unique mixture of passion and devotion, directness and mischievousness. The life force was so strong in Janet. She reveled in her joys: family, music, and always David; and heartbreak she met with even more heart. All that Janet was will continue to live through the beautifully human legacy that she and David left to all of us in Yellow Barn. It is one that could only have come from them, and one that will always bear the beauty of their spirit.

Janet would have been 90 years old this coming December. Next June there will be a celebration of her life at her and David's beloved barn and home. In the meantime, we share Janet's obituary, composed by her grandchildren, and one of David and Janet's beloved performances.

—Seth Knopp and Catherine Stephan

Janet Elaine Wells (née Rosenthal), was born in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in 1928, and ended her life peacefully in the presence of family at her beloved home in Putney, Vermont on October 27, 2018. She would tell all who knew her (and many who didn’t) that she spent most of her life in two towns that both began with “P-U” and ended in “N-E-Y”. She shared endless stories of her vibrant, precocious childhood on a Pennsylvania block in post-war America, opening a vivid window into a different time. She began her undergraduate degree at the young age of 16 at Case Western Reserve University, after which she moved to New York and completed her Masters degree at the Teachers College at Columbia University. Janet studied with Isabelle Vengerova and Nadia Reisenberg in New York and would later hold affiliations with the Julius Hartt School of Music, Windham College, and the Brattleboro School of Music. Janet’s life was devoted to her prodigal gift of classical piano, which she excelled in since starting at the age of 5, and her beloved husband, David Wells (1927-2012). Her other loves were based in this union: her two sons, her three grandchildren, her home in Putney, and her slew of cocker spaniels. After moving to Putney in 1968, Janet and David started Yellow Barn in 1969, a source of great joy for them both for many years. Janet was lucky to have cultivated long lasting, deep friendships over several decades in her beloved Putney community, many of whom were able to visit her in the last days and weeks. The legacy of Janet and David Wells lives on through Yellow Barn, their son Dana, their three grandchildren Nikolai, Kira, and Louisa, and the loving memories held by every musician and friend who experienced their magnanimous presence and friendship. The grandchildren would especially like to thank Janet’s friend Rick for his kind help and her amazing caregivers over the last six years: Kim, Mary, Patty, Carolyn, Samantha, Almut and Donna; you all made an enormous impact on her final years. We will be organizing a celebration of Janet’s life in late spring to early Summer 2019 at the Wells’ beloved barn in Putney.

Atamaniuk Funeral Home will be handling the funeral arrangements. To sign an online register book or send messages of e-condolence to the family please visit

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to Yellow Barn, PO Box 507 Putney VT 05346