Having spent 25 years as a resident musician here at Garth Newel, I am always struck by the unique qualities of each summer concert series, but a 50th anniversary summer season is particularly special. One of the major ways we celebrated this weighty landmark was to commission and premier a major new work–Her New Home by Polina Nazaykinskaya–to honor our founder, Christine Herter Kendall. Polina worked with librettist Konstantin Soukhovetski, who plumbed Garth Newel’s archives as well as Christine’s own writings to form the narrative of the work. You can read more about the libretto with our past blog post here. If you missed the premiere, be sure to join us on May 24, 2024 to hear this powerful work for soprano, baritone, and piano quartet. It’s rare for singers to grace the stage of Garth Newel, and the stunning voices of Tasha Koontz and Brandon Morales soar alongside the piano quartet in this heartfelt and expressive piece.
Though collaborative chamber music comprised the lion’s share of the summer, we also enjoyed some particularly stellar solo performances: Dom Flemons, also known as The American Songster, kicked off our summer with an impressive display of his mastery of many instruments, often played simultaneously! Pianist Simone Dinnerstein left us spellbound with the subtle nuances of her artistry. Harpsichordist Francis Yun led us on a fascinating journey traversing the diversity of the Keyboard Suite. But it was our own Jeannette Fang who brought down the house with her rendition of Moussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.
Our annual String Extravaganza and Piano Weekend concerts have been popular mainstays of our summer seasons. Nothing quite matches the exhilaration of four pianists playing Liszt’s Les Preludes or the exuberance of eight string players performing Mendelssohn’s Octet. These concerts also helped to showcase Garth Newel’s storied past with the return of some of Garth Newel’s earliest musicians: pianists Paul Nitsch and Genevieve Lee; violinist Nick Danielson; and our own recently retired violist/Artistic Director Evelyn Grau.
No summer at Garth Newel is complete without its flagship program–the Emerging Artist Fellowship Program. World-renowned violinist Judith Ingolfsson joined us on the faculty, which was fitting given that she had been a student here at Garth Newel 40 years ago! The Thalea String Quartet also inspired our Fellows with their coachings and performances. This year, we had 11 Fellows from top schools around the country. Not only were they talented musicians but also fascinating and thoughtful individuals–and as luck would have it, many were prone to carsickness; apparently not everyone appreciates our twisty rural roads!
Every year, following a 10-week Summer Festival at Garth Newel, we musicians breathe a collective sigh of relief. The creativity, energy, time, and organization required to program, hire and host guest artists, coach Fellows, practice, rehearse, and perform are mind boggling. But aside from the musical aspects, every summer festival requires the diverse skills and tireless dedication of so many people:
Chef Josh Elliot and sous-chef Juston Hiner not only provided exquisite post-concert dinners for the audience, but kept all of us musicians healthy and happy throughout the summer. For those of you who watched our livestreams, you have Tracy Fisher to thank for his keen eye and exceptional video skills. He will be passing the baton for future livestreams to Jordan Marshall. The Warm Springs Garden Club provided gorgeous flower arrangements each weekend. Special kudos go to our 50th anniversary decorating committee led by John Nowland and Peter Fowler and assisted by Stephanie Hiner and Teresa Hudson. Their brilliantly inventive displays inspired all of us musicians to strive to their level of artistry!
And now that summer is over, we are gearing up for our Fall Foliage Series.
As the weather cools, we will cozy up to the fireplace and share intimate evenings filled with Schubert, Mozart, Beethoven, and other great masters. We are launching a new Jazz Cafe Series every Sunday, featuring the powerhouse acts of the Le Boeuf Brothers, guitarist Yasmin Williams, and singer Vuyo Sotashe with pianist Chris Pattishall.
I invite you to celebrate Thanksgiving and the New Year with us; it’s all the fun, food, and festivities without the cooking, cleaning, and complaining! And as a special treat, esteemed viola soloist Paul Neubauer will perform Christmas favorites with Heifetz Institute musicians on December 16th. And don’t forget to book your tickets to our epic birthday party at the Omni Homestead on November 4th before they sell out! Included will be our performance of Dvorak’s beloved Piano Quintet #2 with violinist Nicholas Kitchen, as well as dancing, champagne, a gourmet dinner, and birthday magic! Ticket link
Thank you all for supporting us throughout the summer and we hope to see you this Fall!
– Teresa Ling, violinist/co-artistic director