MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

In Pastoral Vastness, Grand Art Harmonizes With Music’s Intimacy at Tippet Rise

Composer Reena Esmail and cellist Arlen Hlusko

Here’s my report on Tippet Rise Art Center and its opening weekend for the 2022 season, which I wrote for Classical Voice North America:

FISHTAIL, Mont. — Set amid endlessly rolling hills, mesas, and grasslands that are framed by rugged mountains and the vast Montana sky, Tippet Rise Art Center beckons with a unique intersection of pristine nature and interdisciplinary artistic adventure. The surrounding landscape inevitably injects itself into each musical experience, while looming sculptural shapes retune the sounds of wind and distant thunder. The metaphors proliferate so abundantly here that you need to take care not to step on them — to adapt Brahms’ famous observation about a favorite summer idyll that stimulated his creativity…


Filed under: Classical Voice North America, commissions, Reena Esmail, Schumann, Tippet Rise

Tippet Rise Returns to Live Music: The 2022 Season

Tippet Rise Art Center launches its 2022 season on Friday. For five weeks, from 26 August to 25 September, the rural Montana-based festival will present 50 works in some 15 concerts, including three world premieres. Friday evening’s concert at the Olivier Music Barn unveils the first of these new works: a new composition for solo cello by Reena Esmail, which the Canadian cellist Arlen Hlusko will premiere. The program also features violinist Jennifer Frautschi and pianist Zoltán Fejérvári in Mozart’s Violin Sonata No. 22 in A major, K. 305, and all three musicians in Schumann’s Piano Trio No. 2 in F Major, Op. 80.

Filed under: music news, Reena Esmail, Tippet Rise

Tippet Rise on Tour: August Festival 2021

Running August 19-22Tippet Rise on Tour: August Festival will premiere seven short classical performance films captured at unusual locations across the country: from a tractor barn in Colorado and Ensamble Studio’s Cyclopean House in Massachusetts to the Noguchi Museum in New York City.

The films feature cellist Arlen Hlusko; flutist Brandon Patrick George; pianists Michael Brown, Jenny Chen, and Anne-Marie McDermott; violinist Geneva Lewis; and the vocal ensemble The New Consort.

The festival is free to everyone. The films will stream each day at 8PM ET. Starting at 7:30PM ET this Thursday, August 19 is a live “backstage” gathering via Zoom that will include a discussion with Tippet Rise co-founders Cathy and Peter Halstead and Ensamble Studio’s Débora Mesa and Antón García Abril, the creators behind three monumental sculptures at Tippet Rise—the Domo, the Beartooth Portal, and the Inverted Portal.

Thursday’s location is Cyclopean House, the Brookline, Massachusetts, home and workplace of Débora and Antón, where violinist and rising star Geneva Lewis will perform an eclectic mix of works. Next up is New York and the Jerome Robbins Theater at the Baryshnikov Arts Center for a performance by Brandon Patrick George, flutist of Imani Winds.

Friday, August 20, brings a visit to one of the most tranquil and beautiful places in all of New York City—the Noguchi Museum—for a program of new works and poetry performed and read by cellist Arlen Hlusko, followed by a film featuring pianist Jenny Chen at the Blue Gallery in Manhattan.

Saturday, August 21 is set in a tractor barn nestled in Colorado’s Vail Valley at nearly 9,000 feet, where pianist Anne-Marie McDermott devotes her program to Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B-flat major.

The festival concludes in New York on Sunday, August 22 with two films: one beneath a church in Brooklyn at The Gymnasium-Gymnopedie, featuring the solo-voice ensemble The New Consort, and then again at the Blue Gallery for a performance by pianist Michael Brown, featuring a work of his own composition, Breakup Etude for Right Hand Alone, along with works by Chopin and Mendelssohn.

Full program details:

August Festival | Day One | August 19, 2021 | 6PM MDT
Geneva Lewis, violin
EUGÈNE YSAŸE: Sonata No. 5 in G Major for solo violin, Op. 27
Filmed at Cyclopean House, Brookline, Massachusetts
Jean Coleman, filmmaker; Noriko Okabe, audio engineer. Duration:

Brandon Patrick George, flute
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH: Partita in A Minor for solo flute, BWV 1013
Filmed at Jerome Robbins Theater at Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York
Tristan Cook, filmmaker; George Wellington, audio engineer. Duration: 21’

August Festival | Day Two | August 20, 2021 | 6PM MDT
Arlen Hlusko, cello
JOHN CONAHAN: Philly ‘hood Flashes
NICHOLAS YANDELL: Restless/Release
DAVID JAEGER: The Blue Trees Rise Again (1. Landscape, 2. Evening, 3. Conjure You)
SETH COLE: Mi’Mahalah L’Mahol (From Sickness to Dancing)
Filmed at The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, Long Island City, New York
Jean Coleman, filmmaker; Noriko Okabe, audio engineer. Duration: 20’

Jenny Chen, piano
FRANZ LISZT: Three Concert Études, S. 144, Étude No. 3 Un Sospiro
FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN: Barcarolle in F-sharp Major, Op. 60
FRANZ LISZT: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 10, in E Major, S.244/10
Filmed at Blue Gallery, New York, New York
Xuan, filmmaker; Noriko Okabe, audio engineer. Duration: 25’

August Festival | Day Three | August 21, 2021 | 6PM MDT
Anne-Marie McDermott, piano
FRANZ SCHUBERT: Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960
Filmed at Tractor Barn, Edwards, Colorado
Tristan Cook, filmmaker; Jim Ruberto, audio engineer. Duration: 45’

August Festival | Day Four | August 22, 2021 | 6PM MDT
The New Consort, vocal ensemble (Madeline Apple Healey, Rhianna Cockrell, Clifton Massey,
Nathan Hodgson, Brian Mummert)
CARLO GESUALDO: “Moro, lasso, almio duolo”
CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI: “Zefiro torna e’l bel tempo rimena”
SAMIH CHOUKEIR, arranged by Shireen Abu Khader: Lau Rahal Sawti
Filmed at Gymnopedie, Brooklyn, NY
Jean Coleman, filmmaker, Noriko Okabe, audio engineer. Duration: 30’

Michael Brown, piano
MICHAEL BROWN: Breakup Etude for Right Hand Alone (2020)
FREDERIC CHOPIN: Impromptu in F-sharp Major, Op. 36
ALEXANDER SCRIABIN: Poème in F-sharp Major, Op. 32, No. 1
FELIX MENDELSSOHN: Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 14
Filmed at Blue Gallery, New York, New York
Xuan, filmmaker; Noriko Okabe, audio engineer. Durati

Filed under: music news, Tippet Rise

Tippett Rise on Tour

The Spring Festival Tippet Rise on Tour from April 16 to 18 will premiere 10 short films featuring eclectic music performances, readings of poetry, and live discussions with musicians. Highlights of the Spring Festival include flutist Claire Chase giving the world premiere of a new work by Bora Yoon, an homage to Surrealism by pianist Pedja Mužijević, and performances by violinists Benjamin BeilmanKatie Hyun, and Tessa Lark, cellist Gabriel Cabezas, pianists Richard Goode, and Baritone Tyler Duncan. The performances were filmed in sculptor Joel Shapiro’s studio and in the DiMenna Center for the Arts in New York City.

The three-day event will also feature Canadian cellist Arlen Hlusko, who was recently appointed cellist of the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Arlen put an ask out on social media during lockdown to see if any composers would be interested in writing miniatures for solo cello that would be premiered on her Instagram in September 2020. This resulted in exhilarating collaborations with numerous composers and four of the works were subsequently filmed by Tippet Rise and will be offered during the Festival.

Each night of the Spring Festival will begin at 5:30PM MDT with a live backstage Zoom discussion before the evening’s performances.

Filed under: music news, Tippet Rise

Songs at the Confluence: Indigenous Poets on Place

Songs at the Confluence: Indigenous Poets on Place is a digital poetry event presented by the Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation and Tippet Rise Art Center, in partnership with In-Na-Po (Indigenous Nations’ Poets). It is presented in conjunction with the recently published Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through, with curation by Kimberly Blaeser and Jake Skeets.

This video contains seven short films by emerging and celebrated Indigenous poets reading their own work, as well as other works from the anthology; a discussion between two of the anthology’s editors, LeAnne Howe and Jennifer Foerster; and video recordings of the inspiring landscape and music produced at Tippet Rise.

Poets included: Kimberly Blaeser (Anishinaabe), Sy Hoahwah (Yapaituka Comanche and Southern Arapaho), Brandy Nalani McDougall (Kanaka Maoli), and Jake Skeets (Diné) reading their own work, and anthology editors LeAnne Howe (Choctaw) and Jennifer Foerster (Mvskoke) in discussion. Also included: Jake Skeets reading a poem by Adrian Louis (Lovelock Paiute), Kimberly Blaeser reading a poem by b: william bearheart (Anishinaabe-St. Croix), and Jennifer Foerster reading a poem by Louis Little Coon Oliver (Mvskoke).

Filed under: poetry, Tippet Rise

Tippet Rise at Home: Escher String Quartet

On Thursday, 10 September, at 6pm MT, Tippet Rise continues its monthly streaming series, Tippet Rise & Friends at Home, with a concert featuring the Escher String Quartet.

Their program includes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Quartet in F major, K. 590 and the Adagio from Samuel Barber’s Quartet, Op. 11 (otherwise known as the “Adagio for Strings”).

You can access the stream here.

Here are the last two months’ streams:

Pianist Behzod Abduraimov

Pianist Stephen Hough

Filed under: chamber music, string quartet, Tippet Rise

Tippet Rise at Home: Stephen Hough in Recital

On Thursday, 13 August, at 6pm MT, Tippet Rise continues its monthly streaming series, Tippet Rise & Friends at Home, with a recital featuring pianist Stephen Hough. His program: Stephen Hough/Sonata No. 4 (Vida Breve); Franz Liszt/Funérailles, S. 173; Bach/Gounod/Hough: C. Gounod Meditation on the Prelude by Bach (Ave Maria); Frédéric Chopin/Nocturne Op. 9, No. 2.

Listeners can access the stream here.

Here is last month’s stream, in which Behzod Abduraimov played music by Liszt and Mussorgsky:

Filed under: Tippet Rise

Tippet Rise & Friends at Home

On Thursday, 16 July, Tippet Rise launches its monthly streaming series, Tippet Rise & Friends at Home, with a concert featuring pianist Behzod Abduraimov in a program of works by Liszt, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, and Prokofiev.

I was able to visit Tippet Rise over the last two summers. Its unique landscape makes an indelible impression that can’t be replicated digitally, but a short film titled Tippet Rise from the Sky (a collaboration with the drone master Blastr) will be included with the stream and should at least suggest something of the flavor of this 12,000-acre art center in Montana. The series will be available on the Tippet Rise website at

Filed under: COVID-19 Era, music festivals, Tippet Rise

JACK and John Luther Adams at the Crypt Sessions

JLA and JACK at Tippet Rise-1

If you happen to be free tonight in New York, the JACK Quartet will introduce John Luther Adams’s new string quartet, Lines Made by Walking, at the Crypt Sessions in its East Coast premiere. It’s a fantastic exploration of the medium. Here’s my review of the world premiere, which the JACKs gave a few months ago at Tippet Rise.

Filed under: JACK Quartet, John Luther Adams, string quartet, Tippet Rise

John Luther Adams and JACK Break New Ground at Tippet Rise

JLA and JACK at Tippet Rise-1

John Luther Adams (center) with the JACk Quartet: John Pickford Richards, Austin Wulliman, Christopher Otto, and Jay Campbell (left to right)
Credit: Zackary Patten 

Last weekend, at Tippet Rise Art Center, I got to experience the brilliant JACK Quartet give the world premiere of Lines Made by Walking, the latest string quartet (No. 5) by John Luther Adams (plus a foretaste of his next quartet, whose premiere is already on the horizon in spring 2020).

Thanks to his close working relationship with the JACKs, JLA has become fascinated with the medium, though he waited until age 58 to take it up. He’s now finishing his Sixth and Seventh String Quartets. My review for Musical America:

FISHTAIL, MT — The vast, roiling orchestral soundscape of the Prize-winning Become Ocean has served many listeners as an entrée into the world of John Luther Adams. But he is just as much at home within the intimate dimensions of chamber music…


Filed under: commissions, John Luther Adams, string quartet, Tippet Rise

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