Letter from the Artistic Directors on the 50th Anniversary Season

Blog - Letter from the Artistic Directors on the 50th Anniversary Season

No matter how modest you are about birthdays, reaching 50 seems to call for all the bells and whistles. “The Golden 50th!” Half century – what a milestone!

So why celebrate on just one day? We want to make the entire 2023/2024 season a celebration of Garth Newel’s 50th anniversary to express why our original mission – the study, performance, and longevity of chamber music – still means so much to us all.

We plumbed through the archives to find beloved and meaningful pieces from past years. We reconnected with former resident musicians and guest artists to bring back performers who have made a significant contribution to Garth Newel’s artistry. Among these will be Paul Nitsch, Garth Newel’s first resident pianist, will be performing on our Piano Weekend in August, and recently retired violist Evelyn Grau will be joining us for the subsequent String Extravaganza. It is a celebration of past and present with Judith Ingolfsson, who will be returning to coach our 2023 Emerging Artist fellows after having been a young artist at Garth Newel herself back in 1983 as a ten year old wunderkind (See picture). 

Seeking to celebrate the old and the new, we built this season’s concerts around works Garth Newel’s audience have always cherished while also including exciting commissions. We’ll premiere a new chamber opera by Polina Nazayskinskaya based on the love story between Christine Herter and William Sergeant Kendall, as well a new piano quartet by Daniel Temkin inspired by the untamed beauty of Garth Newel’s landscape. We tapped into specific musical memories from loyal audience members, programming requested works that celebrate the cherished concert experiences from our past. 

Nothing was more interesting than thumbing through an old program book from the archives. Over Garth Newel’s august history, the old and new have always intertwined seamlessly. Though ample servings of Beethoven, Dvorak, and Brahms were presented along with Arlene’s succulent beef tenderloin, exploring and nurturing music of the future was an integral part of Garth Newel’s programming from its earliest days. Commissions of Schuller, Husa, Schwartz, Shatin, and Ward have given rise to a biennial Composition Competition and commissions by Moravec, Biedenbender, Nazaykinskaya, and Temkin. The character, beauty, and history of Garth Newel are imprinted in many of these works, which remind us why we are so drawn to this precious place. 

Herter Hall has gradually transformed from an open-air horse-riding ring into an intimate, climate-controlled concert hall. The dirt floors have given way to a stage, fireplaces, and central A/C. Though black snakes no longer hang from the rafters, be sure to ask violinist Nick Danielson about the legendary black snake of Herter Hall when he performs with us in August!

The story of Garth Newel has been such a joy to explore and celebrate. These past 50 years show us the unlimited possibilities of chamber music, how it enriches lives, and why we all love coming back to Garth Newel.

So pick up your glass and toast with us as we say – here’s to 50 more! 

Share the Post: