The Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival (BCMF), which for 36 years has presented summer chamber music concerts on Long Island’s East End, will this year present “Summer Festival at Home,” five hour-long programs premiering on consecutive Sundays at 6:30 pm beginning July 26 on the BCMF YouTube channel and remaining available for one week.
Each program, which opens with an introduction from BCM Artistic Director Marya Martin, who will also interview featured performers and composers, will present favorite performances from recent festivals, including those of BCM-commissioned works by Kenji Bunch and Paul Moravec, recent works by Victoria Clark and Reena Esmail, and music of Mozart, Dvořák, Mendelssohn, and more.
In late May, Martin announced that BCMF 2020, the 37th year of Long Island’s longest-running classical music festival, would not take place as planned, joining the ranks of those around the world who had to cancel this summer’s events as the COVID-19 pandemic brought concert life to a standstill. She was determined, however, to be there for the festival’s two communities — the loyal East End audience and the family of BCM artists, some of the best chamber musicians in the world, many of whom have seen their livelihoods evaporate since the pandemic took hold.
Martin and BCM executive director Michael Lawrence resolved to create online programs that would allow the audience to gather online on an early Sunday evening when many would normally be on their way to the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, the festival’s main venue. And they made a commitment to paying the musicians half of their fees for the canceled concerts, and established a BCM Musician Fund, for which they are soliciting donations.
“The pandemic has had a profound impact on the lives of musicians, and we feel we must support them in these difficult times,” Martin said. We are like a family in that way, and we count on family when we need them.”
Many of those on what would have been this summer’s artist roster are represented in the five programs of the Summer Festival at Home. “All About Mozart” kicks off the series on July 26 with performances of two of the composer’s chamber masterpieces, the Horn Quintet and Clarinet Quintet, along with Alfred Schnittke’s 1976 work “Moz-Art” for two violins. “Dvořák/Moravec – A New Country” on August 2, takes its name from the 2018 work by Paul Moravec, a BCMF commission, for mezzo-soprano, flute, violin, viola, cello, and piano to texts by Walt Whitman, Emma Lazarus, and others; it is joined on the program by two works of Dvořák, including an arrangement of “Goin’Home” for cello and piano (Marya talks with Paul Moravec and cellist Nicholas Canellakis).
“Shifting Winds,” on August 9, features two works spotlighting wind instruments: Kenji Bunch’s 2018 “Summer Hours” for wind quintet and piano, a BCM commission, alongside that wind music classic, Rheinberger’s Nonet for winds and strings (Marya talks with Kenji Bunch). “Travel the World at Home,” on August 16, brings the world to you, with Gaubert’s “Three Watercolors” evoking the French countryside, Reena Esmail’s 2017 work “Saans” (Breath) summoning India, and Victoria Clark’s “Goodnight Kiwi” recalling an old New Zealand television signoff, wrapping up with a chamber arrangement of Haydn’s “Surprise Symphony” (Marya talks with Reena Esmail and pianist Gilles Vonsattel). The series comes to a close on August 23 with “Boccherini & Mendelssohn: Virtuosity,” with two virtuoso works, Boccherini’s Flute Quintet in G Major and Mendelssohn’s Piano Quartet No. 3 (Marya talks with pianist Orion Weiss).
The BCM Spring series, three concerts that were to take place in March, April, and May of this year, have been moved to three Saturdays in the fall, and are still on the schedule: “Mozart Portrait, narrated by Alan Alda” on October 10; “Colorful Winds: Beethoven and More” on November 7; and the Calidore Quartet on December 5. For more information visit bcmf.org/autumn-series.