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Varied Virtual Concerts from Music Mountain


Like so many arts organizations everywhere, Music Mountain in Falls Village, Conn., has had to pivot this year to a new way of delivering content virtually, after having to shut down its summer concert season to keep audience members and artists alike safe.

The summer chamber music festival has responded with a continuing series of live-streamed programs, “Live From Music Mountain,” taking place every Sunday at 3 p.m.  — the traditional time of Music Mountain’s live chamber concerts.

Artistic and Executive Director Oskar Espina Ruiz produces and hosts the hour-long series, which features fascinating conversations with leading artists from their homes and live performances of the repertoire, as well as taped performances when live ones are impossible (such as when ensembles can’t meet). Many of the musicians were scheduled to play at Music Mountain this summer.

“This has been a wonderful way to keep our audience engaged and coming back,” said Espina-Ruiz. “We’ve been very gratified with the results. More than 120 viewers have joined us weekly from around the country and the world — places like Mexico, Spain, France, and Argentina — and over 1,000 watch the video replays on our website.”

“Live From Music Mountain” began in June with a program on “Birdsong and Messiaen’s ‘Quartet for the End of Time’” featuring the Horszowski Trio and Fran Zygmont of the Litchfield Audubon Society. Espina Ruiz and Zygmont had a lively discussion about birdsong, with taped recordings Zygmont had made on Music Mountain’s property. It was followed by a recorded performance of the Messiaen quartet, which makes liberal use of birdsong.

Subsequent Sundays saw live performances by renowned pianist Simone Dinnerstein, playing Glass and Schubert, conversation and music with the Ulysses Quartet (the graduate quartet-in-residence at Juilliard), more live piano artistry by Polish-born Magdalena Baczewska, and a program of Penderecki, Kelly-Marie Murphy, Beethoven and Mendelssohn by the Penderecki Quartet, in memory of the recently deceased, groundbreaking Polish composer whose name was chosen by the founding members of the ensemble. Penderecki is perhaps best known for his chilling “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima,” composed in 1960.

This coming Sunday, Aug. 2, will feature the Verona Quartet. And on Aug. 16, Music Mountain will share a first-ever collaboration with Carnegie Hall in New York City, with a program being put together to celebrate the life of the great pianist Peter Serkin, a beloved Music Mountain regular, who died in February of this year.

Live From Music Mountain can be seen every Sunday at 3  p.m. on Facebook Live, YouTube, and at the website www.musicmountain.org.


Fred Baumgarten is a regular contributor to Compass on music and culture and was formerly The Lakeville Journal’s Nature’s Notebook columnist, with a specialty in birds. He is on the board of Music Mountain.

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