Monday, August 13, 2012

Fellow Bryan

Greetings from Connecticut!  I'm currently a Fellow at Yale University's Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.  This is one of the oldest music festivals in North America and certainly one of the most renown.  Today, I'll give you a quick run-around and in the coming days I will have photos and stories from my short stay.

Norfolk Chamber Music Festival 2012

Back in March, I applied to Yale to be a part of this.  I was extremely fortunate to be invited and to be awarded the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship which covers all the expenses during my stay.  I reckon that most who read this do not know what this program is so...

The Norfolk Chamber Music Festival hosts 30 concerts during the summer and invites some of the world's most prolific composers with amazing musicians to share music among friends.  I am currently staying on the estate of Ellen Battell Stoeckell who was one of the wealthiest persons in the world in the late 19th century.  It is hard to explain her wealth, except to say that her estate has many cottages (one of which is my home for the week) and houses, greenhouses, barns, etc.  It is absolutely gorgeous!  It isn't a castle, but what appears to be quaint on the outside is horribly luxurious on the inside.  The White House (main mansion) of the estate looks simple on the outside, but the music room inside is covered with gold leaf walls, Tiffany windows, and contains one of the world's greatest art collections.  The dining room, filled with ancient European furniture, has an elephant skin ceiling.

Ellen Battell Stoeckel White House

Then there is the little music shed out back.  The Music Shed may sound like a nice barn, but before the Panama Canal was built, Ellen Battell Stoeckel had Redwood Trees in California logged, shipped from California around the southern tip of South America and up to New York City, then carried by horse-team a short ways before giving up because the massive size of the logs were nearly impossible to move around the bends of the mountain trails and roads leading into Connecticut.  So, instead of milling the logs into boards and then transporting the boards, she did what any multi-millionairess would do.  She built an entire railroad to her estate just to transport the logs, and she made a quaint little music shed out of the Redwood.

Ellen Battell Stoeckel Music Shed

Music Shed at the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Estate

With stupendous accoustics, the Music Shed is an amazing place and what's more amazing is with whom I'm humbled to share the honor.  When I arrived here, I received a little card saying "Welcome to the Yale School of Music - Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.  This summer, you will be following in the footsteps of musicians like Sergei Rachmaninoff, Jean Sibelius, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Percy Granger..."  Oh, my!  Yes, they all have been a part of this experience - Vaughan Williams premiered his Pastoral Symphony here by the way.
Inside the Music Shed

Inside the Music Shed

As to who is here this year, I am one of 14 singers performing all sorts of chamber music from really old to brand new; from no accompaniment to full orchestra.  There are 10 conductors (including Simon Carrington) and 80 instrumental performers who received fellowships and are artists at the festival including the Tokyo String Quartet (universally recognized as one of the greatest string quartets - after 30 years, they will perform their last concert EVER at this festival next year), several Grammy winners, and the composers James Wood (studied with Nadia Boulanger!), Martin Bresnick (2 time Oscar nominee for music), Aaron Kernis (1998 Pulitzer), David Lang (2008 Pulitzer), and Christopher Theofanidis!  Needless to say, I'm in academic musician heaven!  I have already found many friends - many of them are around my age and have received way too many college degrees than necessary, so I feel right at home in many ways.  But, I am one of only 13 from a public University so I am very proud to represent the University of Missouri Kansas City and for that matter, I'm proud to represent all the "average Johanns" out there making their way into music with the tireless help and heart of many selfless public school teachers.  Musicians were invited from every continent (all the warm ones that is) and from many of the most prestigious music schools in the world.  It truly is an amazing place.

But that's all for now...tomorrow, I will let you in on some of what I have been working on!

1 comment:

  1. Brian--Congratulations on your Norwalk fellowship! This is a side of Yale that we had never been exposed to, Frank being in math and physics. I know you're going to "wow 'em" with your talent and dedication!

    Best wishes,

    Bryan Thompson


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