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Music's Summer Home in the Woods:
Maverick Concertsby M. R. Smith

“Sometimes, when I get my pipe going good, I imagine this building as the first of a number of buildings that shall serve as a Summer home for all the arts . . . last Sunday nearly four hundred people, including several farm wives and two millionaires, heard Beethoven, Arensky, Debussy, and Chopin played as the composers—and God too, I think—intended they should be played.”

So said novelist, poet, and Maverick Concerts musical director/founder Hervey White, in an interview with New York Times writer Allan Updegraff during the inaugural season in 1916. White’s dream was to provide a rustic, woodsy space for performance, using as little money as possible. Starting with a farm on some land purchased for $2000, he managed to convince a local sawmill owner to loan him lumber with which to build bungalows which would then be rented to the resident musicians—the rent to be used to pay back the loan. Similar deals were worked out with Woodstock shopkeepers for food, and a local farmer to cut a good access road to the new redesigned—and acoustically perfect—barn, where the public performances were held, as they are now, 94 years later.

The art colony he established back then became Maverick Concerts, which has gone on to become America’s oldest continuous summer chamber music festival, taking full advantage of its proximity to New York City to get the world’s best chamber ensembles to make regular stops while on tour. This year features visitations by prestigious string quartets such as the Tokyo, Shanghai, Rossetti, American, Daedalus, and Amernet. Cellist Zuill Bailey and pianist Robert Koenig plan an all-Mendelssohn concert, the young ensemble Antares pairs works by George Tsontakis with a reading of Messiaen’s seminal Quartet for the End of Time, and world-renowned American composer Phillip Glass will be in attendance for the area premiere of his new work for viola and piano.

Maverick music director and conductor Alexander Platt has focused this season on the string quartet of great Hungarian composers, in particular Joseph Haydn and Bela Bartók. The young Enso Quartet and Janaki String Trio will explore works by those composers, and well as contemporary Hungarian composer György Kurtág. The Chamber Orchestra concert features a performance of Haydn’s Piano Concerto in F Major, with guest soloist Frederic Chiu.

The Quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s first visit to the river that bears his name will be celebrated in a special program by New York City Opera performer Nancy Allen Lundy, with accompanist Stephen Gosling, and the non-classical Saturday night series features jazz great Roswell Rudd’s Trombone Tribe, master of “roots” music Mike Seeger, and regional favorites Mike & Ruthy. All this . . . and the Young People’s Concert Series, designed to foster the next generation of classical music lovers.

There’s something about hearing masterworks performed in the honest space that is the “old barn” at Maverick, as opposed to the fancy opera houses and concert halls of the city—something that takes you closer to the living spirit of the composers. The musicians feel it too—it’s why they return year after year to Maverick, where Hervey White’s spirit lives on in the rough-hewn timbers, whose resonance makes the music within sound . . . just right. —R

The season schedule can be seen at:

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