As backstory, it’s important to note that the Maverick was founded as a fundraising element for the Colony of the same name, started by Byrdcliffe co-founder Hervey White after he rebelled against the quainter ways of the historic first colony’s other founders, Ralph and Jane Whitehead. For many years, the two saw each other as competitors, while the out-of-Woodstock world tended to see both entities as odd upstarts. That makes the celebration of Woodstock Beat’s 20th as a patriotic blast of America oddly perfect – especially with its Canadian Brass element.
Founded in 1970 and known for its mixture of elegant black suits with white sneakers, Canadian Brass has recorded over 80 albums and, through incessant touring, become known as today’s leading proponent of brass music, both classical and jazz. In addition to classics, it has a reputation for commissioning and playing new works, and for including a mix of crowd-pleasers and more challenging works in its repertoire. Its latest recording, Stars & Stripes: Canadian Brass Salute America, features Nexus Percussion and just spent several months on the Billboard Classical Chart, peaking at Number Two.
Nexus was also founded in Canada in the early 1970s, and has recorded dozens of albums of jazz, world music and commissioned works over the years, alone and with other players and ensembles. The group is known for its improvisational prowess and ecstatic professionalism. Via Kvistad, Maverick has become something of an American home for the ensemble each summer.
In addition to the works from that album, the concert will feature pieces by Woodstock’s homeboy composer Peter Schickele – and a crowd of the town’s cultural glitterati (in unobtrusive festive-wear from Changes and Lily’s, of course).
Tickets for the benefit range from special Dinner/Concert/Spa packages to general-admission seating under the stars in the classic, National Historic Register Festival Hall’s forest-glen setting (bring bug spray). For further information and needed reservations, call (845) 679-2079 or visit www.byrdcliffe.org/performance.
Music to their ears
Woodstock’s Maverick Festival continues this Sunday with Miró Quartet & Denny Dillon’s Improv Nation
Want a special way really to impress those out-of-town visitors babbling on about all they’re missing by taking a rural retreat to your neck of the woods? Take them to the Maverick Festival Hall, the nation’s oldest continuously running chamber festival, and watch as their faces alight and their mouths slip into awe-filled ovals, finally silenced from those endless comparisons to Central Park concerts or lawn nights at Tanglewood and SPAC.
Maverick breathes history and lives in a very special upstate New York fairytale world of woody settings, superb musicianship, spot-on acoustics lent ambiance by the trill of evening crickets and distant frog chirps (plus some of the most memorably odd but effective and cute-as-can-be self-composting toilets anywhere). The place itself, built in 1916 as a “music chapel” in the woods, is a treasure that may be some sort of classical equivalent to New Orleans’ Preservation Hall. And the programming? Ahhh…
The Festival has filled its 96th season with a series of concerts that commemorate the 20th anniversary of the death of Leonard Bernstein, the bicentennial of the birth of Franz Liszt and the always-surging legacy of the great Gustav Mahler. Some of the world’s top quartets will be gracing the schedule, along with a host of established and rising soloists, top new artists in the classical world and several top jazz players on hand to demonstrate the new elements of crossover between musical genres marking the contemporary scene.
Many of the main concert performers, as always, will present special events just for kids, and local favorites Elizabeth Mitchell and Family will again fill (and rock out) a house of toddlers and their older siblings and parents. The culmination of the summer, in what has become a new Maverick tradition, will be a special chamber orchestra concert: the world premiere of a new orchestral version of Bernstein’s Songfest featuring a half-dozen vocal soloists.
Things kicked off in the past two weeks with a new play from the beloved Actors & Writers Theater, a pair of Ars Choralis concerts and the much-celebrated Tokyo String Quartet playing some Mozart favorites. The Festival moves on, over the coming weekend, with the annual Woodstock Beat benefit for the Byrdcliffe Guild (see separate piece); the Miró Quartet with a program of Beethoven, Schubert and the contemporary composer Kevin Puts on Sunday afternoon, July 3; plus another Actors & Writers presentation of Denny Dillon’s great Improv Nation troupe in action on Sunday night, July 3.
On July 9, the first of Maverick’s Young People’s Concerts kicks off at 11 a.m. with noted guitarist Jason Vieaux, who also plays a program of Pat Metheny and classical works that evening at 8 p.m. The St. Petersburg String Quartet, with Peter Kolkay on bassoon, plays on Sunday, July 10 at 4 p.m. The same superb patterning of innovative programming, chamber greats and young persons’ concerts – on a Saturday morning kids, Saturday evening experiments and Sunday afternoon chamber classics – continues through the summer, with occasional additional concerts and lectures on Sunday afternoons.
Program highlights are constant, from local favorites Perry Beekman on vocals and guitar, with Bar Scott and Terry Blaine on vocals, doing up Bernstein on July 23; jazz trumpeter Don Byron’s new trio on August 6; Justin Kolb and the Amernet String Quartet playing Janácek, Mahler and Schubert on August 14; jazz pianist Uri Caine’s Mahlerian Journey on August 20; and the Daedalus String Quartet, with baritone Andrew Garland, playing Othmar Schoeck’s increasingly noted Notturno: Five Movements for String Quartet and Voice on September 4 among them. For the kids, there will be highlights from West Side Story with the piano duo of Andrew Russo and Frederic Chiu on July 30, as well as that Elizabeth Mitchell blast of wholesomeness on August 6 (you have to hear how they get a roomful of new walkers singing along to the Velvet Underground, if there’s nothing else you do this summer!).
Although the major acts all sell out fast, there’s usually outdoor plank seating for late arrivals. The setting’s magical, no matter where you end up.
The Hall is located off Maverick Road just east of Woodstock in West Hurley. You can leave messages at the Festival’s phone number at (845) 679-8217, but it may be best to go to www.maverickconcerts.org or follow them on Facebook for full info and reservations. And hey, if you’ve never been yourselves: no excuses any longer. Magic is necessary. It’s us. It’s Maverick.