Jul. 4-23: 2023 Newport Classical Music Festival Presenting Timeless Music for Today in 26 Concerts
Announcing the 2023 Newport Classical Music Festival
Presenting Timeless Music for Today in 26 Concerts from July 4-23, 2023
Performances by Kelli O’Hara, Hélène Grimaud, Anthony McGill, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, The Knights, Simone Dinnerstein, Cantus, Aizuri String Quartet, Hermitage Piano Trio, and many more
Opera Night at The Breakers featuring Così fan tutte
World Premiere of The Gilded Cage by Curtis Stewart
Commissioned by Newport Classical
Historic Venues include The Breakers, The Elms, Castle Hill Inn, Chinese Tea House, and more
Tickets on Sale: April 3, 2023 at www.newportclassical.org/music-festival
Newport, RI – The 2023 Newport Classical Music Festival will present twenty-six concerts this summer between July 4-23, 2023, bringing timeless music for today to Newport’s stunning historic mansions and venues including The Breakers, Blithewold Mansion, The Elms, Castle Hill Inn, Chinese Tea House, King Park, Norman Bird Sanctuary, Redwood Library & Athenæum, and more. Tickets will go on sale on April 3, 2023 at www.newportclassical.org/music-festival or by calling the Box Office at 401-849-1133 x1.
Highlights of the 2023 Newport Classical Music Festival include performances by Broadway and opera star Kelli O'Hara (currently starring in HBO’s The Gilded Age, filmed in Newport); Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra; The Knights; renowned pianists Hélène Grimaud, Simone Dinnerstein, and Charlie Albright; New York Philharmonic principal clarinetist Anthony McGill in a return performance with pianist Anna Polonsky; riveting low-voice acapella ensemble Cantus; celebrated chamber ensembles including the Hermitage Piano Trio, Aizuri String Quartet, Excelsis Percussion Quartet, Sinta Saxophone Quartet, and Fenway Quintet; acclaimed cellists Zlatomir Fung and Amit Peled; charismatic Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing; and the world premiere of The Gilded Cage, a new work commissioned by Newport Classical from three-time GRAMMY®-nominated violinist/composer Curtis Stewart. Other highlights include the festival’s popular Opera Night at The Breakers featuring Così fan tutte in a bold new un-staged production, Sunrise Meditations concerts, a concert inspired by nature at Norman Bird Sanctuary, a free Fourth of July concert at King Park, and this year’s young professional Newport Classical Festival Artists in nine performances throughout the festival.
Executive Director Gillian Friedman Fox, says, "This year’s Festival encapsulates the full range of expression within classical music. From solo piano and string recitals to large chamber ensembles and vocal performances, each concert draws upon varied instrumentation to offer interpretations of repertoire from the Baroque period all the way to today. I hope audiences come away from this summer feeling inspired, having musical experiences that turn them on to a new composer or performance style.”
Newport Classical’s Festival Artists program brings together professional musicians at the early stages of their careers for an intense period of rehearsal and music making during the festival. This year’s Festival Artists are Ariel Horowitz, violin; Lun Li, violin; Edwin Kaplan, viola; Titilayo Ayangade, cello; and Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner, piano. Ariel Horowitz is a recent graduate of the Yale School of Music, and recently won the Concert Artists Guild Ambassador Prize. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of The Heartbeat Music Project, a tuition-free program providing instruments, music, and Navajo (Diné) cultural knowledge to young people in grades K-12 living in the Navajo Nation. A native of Shanghai, China, violinist Lun Li won First Prize in the 2021 Young Concert Artists Susan Wadsworth International Auditions, the Paul A. Fish Memorial Prize, the Buffalo Chamber Music Society Prize, and is a recent graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and The Juilliard School. Edwin Kaplan is the violist of the award-winning Tesla Quartet. Among his most cherished projects is the Tesla Quartet's annual call for scores, where he meticulously evaluates and selects from the many compositions submitted by composers worldwide. With cellist Titilayo Ayangade, he performs as Duo Kayo. Titilayo Ayangade has spent over two decades behind her instrument, performing in orchestras, chamber ensembles, and commissioning new music. She holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati-CCM and the University of Texas at Austin, and has also worked closely with members of the Artemis Quartet. Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner was selected as a winner of the Concert Artists Guild 2022 Victor Elmaleh Competition and has been distinguished as a Gilmore Young Artist, an honor awarded to the most promising American pianists of the new generation.
2023 Newport Classical Music Festival Concerts:
The 2023 Newport Classical Music Festival kicks off on Tuesday, July 4 at 7:30pm with a free, outdoor Fourth of July Patriotic Pops concert preceding the fireworks at King Park featuring Fenway Quintet, one of Boston’s most esteemed professional brass quintets. This concert is part of the 2023 BankNewport Community Concert Series.
On Wednesday, July 5 at 6pm, Sinta Quartet presents a Saxophone Soirée outdoors in the beautiful private gardens of Bellevue House, featuring chamber music steeped in lively folk traditions, as well as a catalog of traditional music from around the globe by a wide range of composers including Bela Fleck, Mark O’Connor, Jay Unger, Ligeti, and Dvořák.
Newport Classical Music Festival’s Opening Night concert on Thursday, July 6 at 8pm at The Breakers features GRAMMY-nominated pianist Simone Dinnerstein, described as “an artist of strikingly original ideas and irrefutable integrity” by The Washington Post. Her passionate and nuanced program features music from her 2022 album Undersong, the third in a trilogy of albums she recorded at home during the pandemic. Dinnerstein says, “Undersong is an archaic term for a song with a refrain, and to me it also suggests a hidden text. Glass, Schumann, Couperin, and Satie all seem to be attempting to find what they want to say through repetition, as though their constant change and recycling will focus the ear and the mind. This time has been one of reflection and reconsidering for many of us, and this music speaks to the process of revisiting and searching for the meaning beneath the notes of the undersong.”
On Friday, July 7 at 8pm, the Aizuri String Quartet performs at The Breakers. Praised by The Washington Post for “astounding” and “captivating” performances that draw from a notable “meld of intellect, technique and emotions,” the infectiously energetic Aizuri Quartet brings together their own four distinctive musical personalities, tracing a journey from darkness to dawn, and culminating in the warmth of Haydn’s “Sunrise” Quartet. This program explores the ways in which the atmosphere, psychological power, and political metaphor of the night have been an inspiration for composers from the classical era to the present-day, and in addition to Haydn includes music by Clara Schumann, Bartók, and Robert Schumann.
The Minnesotan low-voice ensemble Cantus takes the stage at The Breakers on Saturday, July 8 at 8pm. Cantus has developed a national following for their trademark warmth and blend, innovative programming, and riveting performances of music ranging from the Renaissance to the 21st century. In this program, Cantus explores the challenges of connecting in our modern age by pairing works by Sibelius and Saint-Saëns with compositions from contemporary luminaries including Andrea Ramsey, David Lang, Christopher H. Harris, Cam Butler, Ingrid Michaelson, Simon & Garfunkel, and more.
On Sunday, July 9 at 9am, the day begins with Strings in Nature, a morning performance by the Newport Classical Festival Artists at Norman Bird Sanctuary, taking audience members on a journey through touchpoints between music and nature, anchored by a string quartet reduction of Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony that explores themes from Britten’s childhood memories.
That evening at 8pm, Newport Classical presents Opera Night: Così fan tutte at The Breakers in a bold and unforgettable un-staged production of Mozart's 1790 Italian opera buffa. Featuring six quickly emerging operatic stars – soprano Maria Valdes (Fiordiligi); mezzo-soprano Leah Heater (Dorabella); baritone Armando Contreras (Guglielmo); tenor David Blalock (Ferrando); bass-baritone James Demler (Don Alfonso); and soprano Victoria Okafor (Despina). Under the musical direction of acclaimed pianist Charles Kim, and reimagined by Newport Classical’s own Trevor S. Neal, this beloved opera, sung in gossamer Italian, is a probing look into romantic relationships through the collaborative genius of Mozart and his brilliant librettist, Da Ponte.
On Tuesday, July 11 at 4pm at Newport Art Museum, internationally renowned Israeli cellist Amit Peled presents his program American Landscapes. Peled is acclaimed as one of the most exciting and virtuosic instrumentalists on the concert stage today. His performances have been justly described as “fiery and intelligent” by The Strad magazine and full of “glowing tone” by The New York Times. Joined by longtime musical collaborator pianist Solomon Eichner, this program explores music by pioneering American composers including Florence Price, George Gerswhin, Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, and George David Weiss. Peled will also present a free conversation and performance at 11am that day at Temple Shalom entitled “Journey with my Jewishness.”
On Wednesday, July 12 at 11am at The Elms, flutist Anthony Trionfo, whose playing has been called “breezily virtuosic” (The New York Times), joins the Festival Artists for a delightful morning concert featuring chamber masterworks for flute, strings, and piano, including the first of Mozart’s flute quartets; Friedrich Kuhlau’s last and possibly greatest composition Grand Trio; French composer Louise Farrenc’s trio for flute, cello and piano; and other works by rarely heard composers of the late-Classical and early Romantic periods.
That evening at 8pm, Zlatomir Fung performs the Bach Cello Suites at The Breakers. Bach's six Cello Suites are among the most extraordinary and iconic works ever written for cello. Each piece resonates with its own unique characteristics and sonority. This is a rare opportunity to hear the full collection performed in its entirety by one of the preeminent cellists of our time. Zlatomir Fung is the youngest musician ever to win First Prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition Cello Division. His impeccable technique demonstrates his mastery of the canon.
On Thursday, July 13 at 11am at The Elms, the Festival Artists explore the famous feud between Brahms and Liszt, in which both sought to build upon their own legacies to match that of the great Mozart, in Classical Rivalries, a program featuring music by all three legendary composers. That evening at 8pm, the singular pianist Hélène Grimaud performs at The Breakers. Grimaud is known around the globe for her fierce intelligence, fearless interpretations, and sincere freedom of expression. In this characteristically thoughtful program, her long-anticipated debut as a Newport Classical recitalist, she approaches each work with deep respect as well as individual artistry. Her program includes Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109; Brahms’s Three Intermezzi for piano, Op. 117 and 7 Fantasien, Op.116; and J.S. Bach’s Chaconne from Violin Partita No.2 in D minor, BWV 1004 (arr. Busoni). On Friday, July 14, the day begins early with a 5:15am Sunrise Meditations concert at Chinese Tea House. Experience an unforgettable sunrise over Newport’s iconic Cliff Walk through this whimsical and inspiring morning concert with the Festival Artists. Music by Vieutemps, Mozart, Bologne, Rolla, and Schubert, introspective in nature and written for different string configurations, makes for a meditative and uplifting start to the day.
That evening at 8pm, charismatic Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing performs at The Breakers. Hemsing is one of the leading young violinists of our time. At Newport Classical, she returns to her roots as a specialist of the music of Edvard Grieg, opening this imaginative program with his Sonata for violin and piano No. 2. Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner, a Festival Artist and “gifted virtuoso” (San Francisco Chronicle), joins Hemsing on the piano for this astonishing recital program which also includes music by Jacob Shea, Fauré, and Ravel. In partnership with NewportFILM, on July 13 Hemsing will deliver a post-screening artist talk, following a showing of the documentary film Forte which features her. This free screening will be part of NewportFILM’s outdoor summer programming, with more details to come.
On Saturday, July 15 at 3pm, the Festival Artists Fanfare will be an invigorating afternoon concert at Emmanuel Church, where the stunning English Gothic Revival architecture shapes an enveloping acoustic experience. This program, featuring music by Mozart, Debussy, Dohnanyi, and Rebecca Clarke, highlights the solo and virtuosic capabilities of these talented emerging artists – and concludes with Frank Bridge’s Phantasy for Piano Quartet, which is credited with catapulting Bridge’s career. All ticket sales for this performance will go toward supporting Emmanuel Church and the vibrant community who gather here.
That evening at 8pm at The Breakers, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, under the musical direction of Richard Egarr in his second season as Music Director, offers a thoughtful program of Handel and Biber performed entirely on period instruments. This program also features the East Coast premiere of a new work by Mason Bates, which the composer describes as “a dreamy and lyrical mediation on the interesting connection between Baroque performance practice and early bluegrass.” Considered the most versatile ensemble of its kind, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra is recognized as “America’s leading historically informed ensemble” (The New York Times).
On Sunday, July 16 at 8pm, the Hermitage Piano Trio presents a Rachmaninoff 150th Birthday Celebration at The Breakers. Now entering their second decade, the United States-based Hermitage Piano Trio has solidified its place as one of the world’s leading piano trios, garnering multiple GRAMMY Award nominations, audience raves, and high press accolades for their performances. The Washington Post has singled them out for playing with “such power and sweeping passion that it left you nearly out of breath.” Hermitage Piano Trio has assembled this program in celebration of Rachmaninoff’s 150th birthday, pairing his second piano trio with works by three composers – Josef Suk, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Amy Beach – who each drew inspiration from the prolific composer.
On Tuesday, July 18 at 11am at Blithewold Mansion, Newport Classical’s Festival Artists present a morning concert exploring the Great American Songbook. The Great American Songbook is to American music what the complete works of Shakespeare are to English literature: an indispensable and crucial foundation for a unique and sophisticated art form. Composers and lyricists such as George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers with Lorenz Hart, and the inimitable Cole Porter created a formidable repertoire of songs for Broadway stage musicals and Hollywood movies. These subsequently became the bedrock of singers and instrumentalists in jazz’s golden age. Newport Classical’s Festival Artists embark on a grand instrumental journey featuring eloquent break-up ballads, wistful reveries, and exultant celebrations of love and romance.
That evening at 7:30pm at Castle Hill Inn, internationally award-winning pianist Charlie Albright performs Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, on a program exploring the full range of piano repertoire, from the core canon to classical improvisations on popular works of today – all set next to Castle Hill's magical seaside vistas. The concert will include Beethoven’s “Tempest” Sonata No. 17 in D minor; Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring; and a live improvised sonata created on the spot by Albright based on notes from the audience. Albright has quickly become a Newport Classical Music Festival favorite for his ability to bring music to everyone, connecting with audiences through his music, speaking, and his uniquely playful approach to concerts.
On Wednesday, July 19 at 11am at The Elms, mezzo-soprano Heather Gallagher and baritone Joseph Parrish join the Festival Artists in presenting Classical Lieder, an enchanting morning of art song and Lieder. Director of Artistic Planning Trevor Neal has curated an intriguing recital program of songs composed in the nearly forty years between 1888 and 1922. His selections highlight the changing styles of music that emanated from four important centers of music-making: from Vienna, the voice of the Hugo Wolf, known as the aesthetic adversary to the traditionalist Brahms; from France, varied sound-pictures of Faure; from Italy, the genius of the often-overlooked Respighi; and from the UK, the imagination and sensitivity of Gerald Finzi.
On Thursday, July 20 at 8pm, Newport Classical presents An Evening with Kelli O'Hara at The Breakers, a spectacular night with stage and screen star Kelli O’Hara, one of Broadway and Opera’s greatest leading ladies. Her portrayal of Anna Loenowens in The King and I garnered her a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. In 2015, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in Lehar’s The Merry Widow opposite Renee Fleming and returned as Despina in Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte and Laura Brown in Kevin Puts’s The Hours. O’Hara received an Emmy nomination for her work as Katie Bonner in The Accidental Wolf and can currently be seen starring alongside Christina Baranski and Cynthia Nixon in HBO’s series The Gilded Age. O’Hara now returns to The Breakers for a vocal recital celebrating her illustrious and varied career, with pianist Dan Lipton.
On Friday, July 21, the day begins with a Sunrise Meditations concert at 5:15am at Chinese Tea House. As the sun rises over the Atlantic, the Newport Classical Festival Artists welcome the day with a program of meditative musical poetics. This program explores the spaces in which we gather: physically, mentally, and spiritually. These selections highlight composers from historically underrepresented communities and from the indigenous diaspora. Alexis Roland-Manuel references baroque dance style; Paul Wiancko fuses traditional Appalachian music with Japanese folk song. Lei Liang’s Gobi Canticle grew out of the composer’s interest in Mongolian music. The traditional Catalan carol The Song of the Birds was made famous by cellist Pablo Casals when he performed it as a plea for peace upon receiving the United Nations Peace Medal in 1971. Korngold’s String Quartet No. 2 closes the program with impressionistic touches, evoking waltzes, and the musical lightness of Vienna.
That evening at 8pm, Newport Classical presents Concert and Cocktails: A Musical Soirée with Anthony McGill and Anna Polonsky at Redwood Library and Athenæum. Clarinetist Anthony McGill is one of classical music’s most recognizable and brilliantly multifaceted figures. In addition to holding the Principal Clarinet chair at the New York Philharmonic, McGill enjoys an equally impressive international solo and chamber music career. His program includes music by Amanda Harberg, Aaron Copland, Adolphus Hailstork, and more. During the special extended intermission reception, explore the Library while enjoying cocktails and an array of hors d’oeuvres.
In the afternoon on Saturday, July 22 at 2pm at Colony House, Newport Classical presents Excelsis Percussion Quartet. The New York City-based quartet is an international and multilingual group of women who speak the universal language of rhythm, rooted in their belief that music possesses an ability to unite us all. They have been hailed by timpanist Jonathan Haas as "one of the most innovative and exciting percussion ensembles to emerge in the golden age of chamber music" for their immersive sound world. Excelsis infuses vibrancy and new energy into the percussion community through eclectic programming, innovative storytelling, and embracing their intersectional identities. Their program includes music by Daniel Levitan, Eric Whitacre, Owen Clayton Condon, Rüdiger Pawassar, Yaz Lancaster, and Vanessa Thomlinson.
That evening at 8pm, the Festival Artists Finale at The Breakers will feature the world premiere of The Gilded Cage, a new work by three-time GRAMMY-nominated violinist/composer Curtis Stewart, commissioned by Newport Classical. Stewart’s piece is inspired by his father’s time living in Newport and growing up within the Baptist AME church, as well as the history of The Breakers and the Newport residents who have taken care of the space over its many years. The program, curated by Stewart, also features a thrilling selection of piano quintets by Schumann, Bruch, and Shostakovich.
The 2023 Newport Classical Music Festival concludes on July 23 at 8pm with The Knights perform Appalachian Spring at The Breakers. The Knights, led by brothers Eric Jacobsen (artistic director and conductor) and Colin Jacobsen (artistic director and violinist) are a New York-based orchestral collective of adventurous musicians dedicated to transforming the concert experience and eliminating barriers between audiences and music. Members bring a range of cultural influences to the group, from baroque and classical performance practice, to jazz and klezmer genres, to pop and indie rock. Driven by an open-minded spirit of camaraderie and exploration, The Knights inspire listeners with vibrant programs that honor the classical tradition alongside their passion for artistic discovery. Their program at The Breakers includes Vivaldi’s Flute Concerto featuring flutist Alex Sopp, Anna Clyne’s Prince of Clouds, Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances featuring violinist Alex Gonzalez, Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, and Colin Jacoben’s A Shadow Under Every Light.
For the full schedule, visit: www.newportclassical.org/music-festival
About Newport Classical
Newport Classical is a premier performing arts organization that welcomes people of every age, culture, and background to intimate, immersive musical experiences. The organization presents world-renowned and up-and-coming artistic talents at stunning, storied venues across Newport – an internationally sought-after cultural and recreational destination.
Originally founded in 1969 as Rhode Island Arts Foundation at Newport, Inc. and previously known as Newport Music Festival (NMF), Newport Classical has a rich legacy of musical curiosity presenting the American debuts of over 130 international artists and rarely heard works and is most well-known for hosting three weeks of concerts in the summer in the historic mansions throughout Newport and Aquidneck Island. The organization has produced more than 2,000 concerts and hosted more than 1,000 musicians and singers. In 2021, the organization launched a new commissioning initiative – each year, Newport Classical will commission a new work by a Black, Indigenous, person of color, or woman composer as a commitment to the future of classical music.
Newport Classical is proud to be an essential pillar of New England’s cultural landscape, and to invest in the future of classical music as a diverse, relevant, and ever-evolving art form. Newport Classical’s four core programming initiatives – the iconic summer Music Festival taking place across Newport; the year-round Chamber Series at the organization’s home base Newport Classical Recital Hall at Emmanuel Church in downtown Newport; the free family-friendly Community Concerts held in green spaces around Aquidneck Island; and its newly expanded Music Engagement Initiative program – illustrate the organization’s ongoing commitment to presenting “timeless music for today.”
Aizuri Quartet by Shervin Lainez, Amit Peled by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco, Anthony McGill by Todd Rosenberg, Cantus by Nathan Ryan, Charlie Albright courtesy photo, Curtis Stewart by Marilena Arvelo, Eldbjørg Hemsing by Gregor Hohenberg, Excelsis Percussion Quartet courtesy photo, Hélène Grimaud by Mat Henneck, Hermitage Trio by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco, Kelli O'Hara courtesy of Polk & Co., Philharmonia Baroque by Frank Wing, Simone Dinnerstein by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco, Sinta Quartet courtesy of General Arts Touring, The Knights by Shervin Lainez, Zlatomir Fung by I-Jung Huang
Newport Classical concert photos by Lisette Rooney.