BH Chamber Music Kicks Off Spring Series with Music Inspired by Friendship

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Composer Eric Ewazen and flutist Marya Martin. Brian Hatton photo
Composer Eric Ewazen and flutist Marya Martin. Brian Hatton photo

By Annette Hinkle

With spring (allegedly) on the horizon, music is (definitely) in the air.

This weekend, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival returns for its third annual spring concert series with a trio of concerts to be offered at the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church in the months ahead.

This year, BCMF will celebrate its 34th season, and though it is known primarily as a popular summer classical music festival offered each July and August, in recent years the BCMF Spring series brings the same quality of music and players to local East End audiences in the quieter months.

“We began the spring series in 2015. The first year, I was happy because the hall was two thirds sold out,” says flutist Marya Martin, BCMF founder and artistic director. “For a very first spring season, that was really good. Every year we get more people.”

“The nice thing about it, the area is full of lots of different types of people with different interests and centers of being,” she adds. “There’s a really wonderful local audience that craves music. We’ve gotten a lot of new ticket buyers in the spring series who now come to the summer series.”

Over the years, Ms. Martin and her staff have made a priority of highlighting the work of new composers and up and coming musicians at the festival. It’s a focus that Ms. Martin now sees as one of the primary foundations of the BCMF.

“I have had a lot of years doing this. In the early days it was all about the playing,” explains Ms. Martin. “Now it’s more focused on a philosophical thing — bringing good music to the area and creating something special.”

“Thirty four years ago, I was the young musician,” continues Ms. Martin. “Now I’m seeing 24 and 25 year olds playing. I love the energy I get from these young musicians. Some of them I take a bit of a risk on. But that’s a wonderful part of the festival — encouraging young people to come and see how the younger musicians interact with each other.”

The first concert of BCMF Spring is this Saturday, March 11 and the program includes the world premiere of Divinities at Dawn (A Fantasie for Flute and Piano), a new piece of music written by composer Eric Ewazen specifically for Marya Martin. The composition came about because of Ms. Martin’s and Mr. Ewazen’s long collaboration and friendship. The two have worked together several times in the past and Ms. Martin even traveled to Prague in order to record Mr. Ewazen’s music.

“Marya was one of the first people to start performing and championing my music,” explains Mr. Ewazen. “This was about 15 years ago. I got to know her, we became great friends and we did a whole recording of my flute music.”

“It was great to hear her play my music and then record it,” he adds.

The idea of composers writing music for specific musicians is not all that unusual and Mr. Ewazen notes that everyone from Brahms to Mozart likely had “musical muses” who inspired their work.

“This is my second piece I wrote for Marya. The other was my first flute sonata,” he explains. “I knew her playing, it’s beautiful, she’s so expressive. She has a spectacular technique and can play the most virtuosic music and is so lyrical in her playing.”

“In the pieces I’ve written for her, I’ve tried to explore both sides of Marya’s playing,: adds Mr. Ewazen. “This is a one movement piece. I wanted to write something full of life and energy and sometimes it’s nice to know the personality of the player you’re writing for.”

“She happens to be engaging — so friendly and so full of life and energy and she has this wonderful sense of fun too,” he says. “I wanted to write a piece for her that has a nice buoyant sound.”

Ms. Martin is just as happy to be performing Mr. Ewazen’s composition, as he is to write it for her. She explains what it is that she enjoys about his work.

“I love his music because it’s romantic, full of tone, colors and for a player it’s like being in a candy store,” says Ms. Martin. “It has all these flavors — he writes well for the instrument.”

The other nice thing with collaborations between musicians and composers is the opportunity to work together on music that has never been heard before. That will certainly be the case this Saturday with Divinities at Dawn.

“For me, to get a brand new piece and sculpt it, it becomes yours because you do the first performance,” says Ms. Martin. “It’s on YouTube right away and — for good or bad — that performance is out there and people start playing the piece.”

“It’s wonderful to put it out there,” she adds. “Eric has written it but I’m the vessel to put it out there.”

Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival’s Spring 2017 series begins Saturday, March 11 at 6 p.m. with “Brahms’ Horn Trio.” The program at Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church includes Trio Sonata for Flute, Violin, and Piano in C minor (ca. 1728) by Johann Joachim Quantz; Ballade, Pastorale, and Dance for Flute, Horn, and Piano (1993) by Eric Ewazan; the world premiere of Fantasie for Flute and Piano also by Eric Ewazen; and Trio for Horn, Violin, and Piano in E-flat major, Op. 40 (1865) by Johannes Brahms. The performers include Marya Martin, flute; Stewart Rose, horn; Paul Huang, violin; Orion Weiss, piano.

The second program, on April 1, brings the Brentano String Quartet, currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, to BCMF audiences for the first time, performing quartets by Beethoven and Mendelssohn and string quartet arrangements of selections from Bach’s Art of the Fugue. And the third program features two of the chamber music repertoire’s gems: string sextets of Dvořák and Brahms, on May 8.

Tickets are $40/$50 for adults, $10 for students. To order subscriptions, tickets, and student tickets, visit www.bcmf.org or call (212) 741-9403. The student tickets will be held for pick-up, with valid ID, at the door.

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