A perennially beloved summer destination, Caramoor also remains a hub for musical and artistic exploration all year round. The 2018-19 fall-spring season offers a wealth of the diverse and imaginative programming with which the Westchester estate has long been synonymous, with presentations spanning the musical spectrum from jazz, American roots, and cabaret to chamber and vocal recitals, a period-instrument orchestral concert, and a musical lecture. The English Concert, Alexandre Tharaud, and Quatuor Ébène are among the A-list acts making Caramoor debuts, while stellar returning artists include Julia Bullock, New York Polyphony, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Acoustic Hot Tuna, and Christine Ebersole. Representing all three of the mentorship programs through which Caramoor serves as an incubator for exceptional young talent, the 2018–19 lineup also showcases members of the Evnin Rising Stars and Schwab Vocal Rising Stars, as well as the incoming Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence, the Omer Quartet.
As in previous seasons, fall and spring concerts are held indoors amid the authentic Renaissance furniture, paintings dating from the 16th century, and terra cotta reliefs of the Rosen House Music Room. Originally designed and built to host private chamber evenings for the Rosen family and guests, this “grandly appointed music room of the treasure-filled home” (New York Times) makes for a unique and intimate performance space just one hour’s drive from Manhattan.
Early music and chamber music: The English Concert, Quatuor Ébène, Alexandre Tharaud, Omer Quartet, and Evnin Rising Stars
On November 30, The English Concert makes its eagerly awaited Caramoor debut under the leadership of distinguished harpsichordist Harry Bicket, the ensemble’s Artistic Director for more than a decade, with an all-Baroque program combining music by Purcell, Handel, Telemann and Vivaldi with that of two lesser-known masters of the period, Georg Muffat and Evaristo Felice dall’Abaco. Founded in 1973 by Trevor Pinnock CBE, the pioneering chamber orchestra was one of the first to be devoted to playing 18th- and early 19th-century music on period instruments. Today, thanks to an award-winning discography of more than 100 titles and live performances that are “wonderfully in tune with the fire, fantasy and dancing lightness of the music” (Chicago Tribune), The English Concert is justly recognized as one of the world’s leading exponents of Baroque and early Classical repertoire. Click here to see the English Concert in live performance.
“A string quartet that can easily morph into a jazz band” (New York Times), France’s Quatuor Ébène has succeeded in attracting a wide audience of young listeners while accruing a string of honors that includes Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine awards. For their long overdue Caramoor debut, the Ébènes bookend Fauré’s E-minor String Quartet, as heard on their 2008 album release, with two Beethoven quartets: the early “First” Quartet and the monumental No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 131, the composer’s favorite of his late contributions to the genre (April 28). Click here to see Quatuor Ébène play late Beethoven.
A 2018 Grammy nominee, Alexandre Tharaud makes his Caramoor debut with a complete account of the Goldberg Variations (April 14). The French pianist has made a specialty of Bach’s transcendent masterpiece, which he recorded three years ago and regularly performs, prompting the Washington Post to marvel: “In a crowded field, the intelligent French pianist Alexandre Tharaud stands out. He has something to say in this music, … offer[ing] a set of Goldbergs on a remarkably intimate and human scale. … His voicing and articulation were delightfully varied, and his use of embellishments was imbued with a delectable spirit of improvisation.” Click here to see Tharaud play and discuss excerpts from the Goldberg Variations.
Caramoor’s 2018-19 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence is the Omer Quartet. First prizewinner at the 2017 Young Concert Artists Auditions, the Omers came to prominence in 2013 when they received both the Grand Prize and gold medal at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. They make their Caramoor debut with a fall program juxtaposing music by Beethoven, Haydn and Debussy with the first quartet by young Copland Award-winner Chris Rogerson (Nov 11). The concert highlights a yearlong residency that, in addition to multiple performances, sees the Omer Quartet provide classroom-based instruction and clinics in Caramoor’s outstanding educational outreach program and appear in Rob Kapilow’s “What Makes It Great?” lecture (see below). Click here to watch the Omer Quartet in live performance.
Young artists from Caramoor’s chamber mentorship program, Evnin Rising Stars, take part in a pair of chamber concerts, for which the program’s Artistic Director, Avery Fisher Prize-winning violinist Pamela Frank, is joined by distinguished artists Gilbert Kalish, piano and Timothy Eddy, cello. Participating young artists are Ben Baker, Rubén Rengel and Tatjana Roos on violin; Zoë Martin-Doike and Zhanbo Zhang on viola; and Alexander Hersh and Coleman Itzkoff on cello. They couple string quartets by Haydn, first with Shostakovich’s G-minor Piano Quartet and Mendelssohn’s late, anguished String Quartet in F-minor (Oct 27) and then with Mozart’s “Spring” Quartet and the superbly crafted Second Piano Quartet of Fauré (Oct 28).
Vocal: Julia Bullock, New York Polyphony, and Schwab Rising Stars
Caramoor is delighted to welcome back Julia Bullock, an “impressive, fast-rising soprano, … poised for a significant career” (New York Times). A 2013 alumna of Caramoor’s Schwab Vocal Rising Stars young artist program, Bullock returns for a fall recital with pianist John Arida on November 4. Their program features a complete performance of Samuel Barber’s song cycle Hermit Songs along with selected Schubert lieder, excerpts from Fauré’s cycle La chanson d’Ève, and jazz songs by Alberta Hunter, Billie Holiday, Spencer Williams, and Nina Simone. As Opera News put it, “Bullock’s radiant soprano shines brightly and unfailingly. … She communicates intense, authentic feeling, as if she were singing right from her soul.” Click here to see Julia Bullock in live performance.
New York Polyphony comprises four men, all “singers of superb musicianship and vocal allure” (New Yorker). On December 15, the Grammy-nominated vocal ensemble keeps Caramoor’s holiday concert tradition alive with two performances of “Sing Thee Nowell,” seamlessly spanning seven centuries of Christmas music, including selections from the group’s 2014 recording of the same name. Hailed as a “seasonal treasure” (WQXR), the album was featured in the New York Times’ Holiday Gift Guide and scored the ensemble its second Grammy nomination. Click here to go behind the scenes of Sing Thee Nowell with New York Polyphony.
Led by Artistic Director Steven Blier, the emerging young singers of Caramoor’s Schwab Vocal Rising Stars young artist program take part in a creatively curated showcase titled “Love at the Crossroads” (March 17).
Lecture/Concert: “What Makes It Great?”
Multi-talented musician Rob Kapilow brings “What Makes It Great?” to Caramoor, offering an engaging and in-depth introduction to Mozart’s “Dissonance” Quartet with the help of the resident Omer Quartet (May 5). As featured on PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center and NPR’s Performance Today, Kapilow’s signature lecture series takes listeners inside the music, where he unravels, slows down, and recomposes key passages to help audiences hear what makes each piece so extraordinary. “Mr. Kapilow has a remarkable gift for making academic analysis not only accessible but compelling,” explains the New York Times. “You hang on to every word and note.” As the Boston Globe adds: “It’s a cheering thought that this kind of missionary enterprise did not pass from this earth with Leonard Bernstein. Rob Kapilow is awfully good at what he does. We need him.” Click here for a taste of “What Makes It Great?”
Jazz: Camille Thurman, Cécile McLorin Salvant & Edmar Castaneda Quartet
Now entering the fifth season of their partnership, Caramoor presents two fall-spring events in collaboration with the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center, as well as a special benefit performance. The first of these sees Camille Thurman return to Caramoor with the Darrell Green Trio on October 20. The recipient of a Martin E. Segal–Lincoln Center Award, jazz vocalist, saxophonist, and composer Thurman has appeared at venues including New York’s Alice Tully Hall and Washington’s Kennedy Center, and at festivals including the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival and the Sydney International Women in Jazz Festival. As the New York Times put it, “You’re hard-pressed to find rising talents more exciting than Camille Thurman.” Click here to see Thurman in live performance.
Caramoor favorite Cécile McLorin Salvant returns for a special benefit performance with pianist Sullivan Fortner on December 1. “A jazz songbird for the 21st century” (DownBeat), McLorin Salvant’s numerous honors include the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album and four wins in the 2014 DownBeat Critics Poll, for Jazz Album of the Year, Female Vocalist, Rising Star–Jazz Artist, and Rising Star–Female Vocalist. As Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Wynton Marsalis recently told the New Yorker, “You get a singer like this once in a generation or two.” Click here to see McLorin Salvant and Fortner in live performance.
For the second Jazz at Lincoln Center collaboration of the fall-spring season, Colombian-born harp virtuoso Edmar Castaneda returns to Caramoor at the helm of the Edmar Castaneda Quartet on May 11. A wholly original musical voice, it was Castaneda who first introduced his instrument to the jazz world, and he has shared stages with such iconic artists as Sting, Ricki Lee Jones, and Paquito D’Rivera. As Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung states: “The Colombian plays the harp like hardly anyone else on earth. His hands, seemingly powered by two different people, produce a totally unique, symphonic fullness of sound, a rapid-fire of chords, balance of melodic figures and drive, served with euphoric Latin American rhythms, and the improvisatory freedom of a trained jazz musician.” Click here to see Edmar Castaneda in live performance.
American Roots: Acoustic Hot Tuna, Molsky’s Mountain Drifters, and Leyla McCalla
Acoustic Hot Tuna launches the fall season on September 29, interspersing original songs with traditional ragtime and blues. Formed almost half a century ago, the legendary blues band lives on as an acoustic duo comprising founding partners – and former Jefferson Airplane members – Jorma Kaukonen on vocals and guitar and Jack Casady on bass. Calling the pair “two of the most influential luminaries in rock history,” PopMatters observes: “The melodic syncopation ideas are a big part of what made Jefferson Airplane stand out from the pack in the ’60s and have continued to power Hot Tuna through the decades.” Click here to see Acoustic Hot Tuna live.
Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist Bruce Molsky – “one of America’s premier fiddling talents” (Mother Jones) – returns to Caramoor this fall with Molsky’s Mountain Drifters (Nov 17). Also featuring banjo virtuoso Allison de Groot and genre-bending bluegrass guitarist Stash Wyslouch, the new trio represents the first band fronted by Molsky, who serves as Berklee College of Music’s Visiting Scholar in the American Roots Program, and whose previous collaborators include Mark Knopfler, Joan Osborne, and Anonymous 4. Calling the new group “a flexible, dexterous, and most adventurous musical force,” roots journal No Depression declares: “The future of old music? That would be Molsky’s Mountain Drifters!” Click here to see Molsky’s Mountain Drifters.
Haitian-American cellist and vocalist Leyla McCalla – a former member of the Grammy Award-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops – draws on traditional Creole, Cajun and Haitian music, as well as on American jazz and folk (April 13). As the New York Times writes, “Her voice is disarmingly natural, and her settings are elegantly succinct. … Her magnificently transparent music holds tidings of family, memory, solitude and the inexorability of time: weighty thoughts handled with the lightest touch imaginable.” Click here to see Leyla McCalla in live performance.
Cabaret: Christine Ebersole
Finally, to round out the fall-spring lineup, Caramoor presents stage and screen star Christine Ebersole in “Cabaret in the Music Room” on May 4. On Broadway, the singer-actor scored Tony Awards for both her leading role in 42nd Street and her tour de force in Grey Gardens, while on television she earned an Emmy Award nomination for her work in One Life to Live. As Theater Mania recognizes, “she exhibits a control over her instrument practically unparalleled in the industry. … As cabaret acts go, this is as close to perfection as it gets.”
Caramoor is a performing arts center located on a unique 90-acre estate with Italianate architecture and gardens in Westchester County, NY. It enriches the lives of its audiences through innovative and diverse musical performances of the highest quality. Its mission also includes mentoring young professional musicians and providing educational programs for young children centered around music. Audiences are invited to come early to explore the beautiful grounds; tour the historic Rosen House, a stunning mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places; and discover beautiful music in the optimal chamber music settings of the extraordinary Music Room. Summer concerts take place in two outdoor theaters: the acoustically superb Venetian Theater, which seats approximately 1,500, and the more intimate, romantic Spanish Courtyard, which seats around 470. In spring and fall, concerts are presented in the splendid Music Room in the Rosen House. Caramoor’s gardens, also used for concerts and the sound exhibition Sonic Innovations, are well worth the visit and include nine unique perennial gardens. Among them are a Sense Circle for the visually impaired, the Sunken Garden, a Butterfly Garden, the Tapestry Hedge, and the Iris and Peony Garden.
Getting to Caramoor is simple by car, train or public transportation. All parking is free and close to the performance areas. Handicapped parking is also free and readily available.
By car from New York City, take the Henry Hudson Parkway north to the Saw Mill River Parkway north to I-684 north to Exit 6. Go east on Route 35 to the traffic light (0.3 miles). Turn right onto Route 22 south, and travel 1.9 miles to the junction of Girdle Ridge Road where there is a green Caramoor sign. At the junction, veer left and make a quick right onto Girdle Ridge Road. Continue on Girdle Ridge Road 0.5 miles to the Caramoor gates on the right. Approximate drive time is one hour.
By train from Grand Central Station, take the Harlem Division Line of the Metro-North Railroad heading to Southeast, and exit at Katonah. Caramoor is a 3.5-mile drive from the Katonah station, where taxi service is always available. For current information, check the Metro-North schedule.