Now in its 28th season, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, which began as a two-concert event at the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, has developed into one of the most significant chamber music festivals in the country.
Over the course of four weeks, from Thursday, July 28, through August 21, the series offers a dozen concerts. Its roster of 47 musicians reads like a “Who’s Who” of American classical performers.
How may one account for the success and longevity of the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival? In addition to the superb musicianship of the participants, it is equally due to the festival’s imaginative programming, which is at once conservative and innovative, in parts. Some of the greatest works of the repertoire are central to most performances. But every performance also introduces new and very accessible works by some of the most talented chamber music contemporaries.
The festival has commissioned works from such composers as Ned Rorem, Paul Moravec, Kenji Bunch, Bruce Adolphe, Bruce MacCombie, Mark O’Connor, and Eric Ewazen. Mr. Moravec and Mr. Bunch will be represented this year, along with Mr. Ewazen.
The guiding force behind the festival, and its success, is Artistic Director and flutist Marya Martin, who determines the programs and chooses the musicians. The Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival was founded in 1984 by Ms. Martin and her husband, Kenneth S. Davidson.
Two of the original musicians, Fred Sherry and Ani Kavafian, return for this season, as do many of the performers who have played in the festival over the course of its history. Additionally, this year, the festival is issuing a new compact disc, “Marya Martin Plays Eric Ewazen,” which also features many of the festival musicians.
Mid-series, on August 14, at the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, Ms. Martin will perform the world premiere of Mr. Ewazen’s “Sonata No. 1 for Flute and Piano.” The sonata is included on the CD, described by Mr. Ewazen as a “gift for Marya Martin. … Having had the pleasure of numerous collaborations over the years with Marya involving premieres, performances and recordings, I was completely influenced by her lovely golden tone and her spectacular technical agility in composing this piece.”
The festival will kick off with a gift to the community, a free outdoor concert on Thursday, July 28, at 6:30 p.m. on the grounds of the Bridgehampton Historical Society. The evening will feature the work of the jazz-influenced French composer Claude Bolling, specifically his “Suite No. 1 for Flute and Jazz Trio” and his “Suite for Violin and Jazz Trio.”
The next night, there will be a benefit dinner and concert at the Atlantic Golf Club in Water Mill on Friday, July 29. The event will include dinner and a concert featuring the music of Vivaldi and Piazzolla, each of whom wrote a work celebrating the four seasons.
Another event in this year’s series will be the “William Brian Little Concert,” which will be held at the Channing Sculpture Garden in Bridgehampton on August 12 at 6 p.m. The emphasis for the concert this year will be gypsy music, a thread that runs from Brahms to Bartok to the famous gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. The guest performers will be the French jazz guitarist Stephane Wrembel and his band.
Mr. Wrembel’s music is featured in the Woody Allen movies “Vicky Christina Barcelona” and “Midnight in Paris.” He and his band will join Ms. Martin and a handful of her classically trained musicians in several pieces by Mr. Reinhardt.
In a recent interview, Ms. Martin explained that Mr. Wrembel doesn’t work with a score, which presents a challenge for all concerned. She described the Bridgehampton Chamber Music collaboration with Mr. Wrembel as her “walk on the wild side.”
The festival usually includes at least one performance that can be described as “offbeat.” The musicians in those concerts are the rock stars of the classical music world and attract people of all ages and musical persuasions. There is one such concert this year, and it will be held on August 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church. It will feature string quartet Brooklyn Rider.
The festival’s literature describes the quartet as chamber music’s “Fab Four.” They will be playing music by Philip Glass and Don Brown, as well as two pieces by one of the group’s violinists, Colin Jacobsen. The group returns after performing to great acclaim in the 2009 festival.
A new feature of the festival is a series of “Saturday Soirées.” These are one-hour performances of intimate works that will begin at 6:30 and last an hour, in an effort to accommodate those who are only here on weekends, or anyone who has early dinner reservations.
To view the complete schedule, or to make reservations, visit the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival website at bcmf.org or call 537-3507.