At Caramoor, Chamber Music and Beyond

Arts - Westchester - At Caramoor, Chamber Music and Beyond -

In it's 65th season, the Caramoor Music Festival decides to take some chances and plug in groups which think outside the box:

"The new-music aesthetic being presented this year departs somewhat from that of academically oriented composers like Roger Sessions and Elliott Carter. While Caramoor’s performers maintain a uniformly high level of musicianship, they embrace elements of popular culture — producing what the festival’s marketers call extreme chamber music.

Reflecting their training at Oberlin and Juilliard, the members of 2 Foot Yard, a violin-cello-guitar trio that will appear on July 2, bring a certain phrasing and detail of tone to their interpretations, said Carla Kihlstedt, the group’s violinist.

Yet, she said, the group works in forms that have more in common with folk or pop music than with traditional classical composition. None of its tunes run more than six minutes. In pieces like “On Waking,” which it may play at Caramoor, the band employs extensive harmonics and extended improvisations punctuated only by a recurring four-note vocal line — Ms. Kihlstedt and the cellist double on vocals. This, she said, results in a kind of abstraction that owes as much to the ethos of alternative rock as to the culture of the academy.

“I find that audiences are getting much better at connecting the dots between different kinds of music,” she said.

Connecting with audiences is a primary goal of Ethel, a quartet with two violins, a viola and a cello that will appear on July 9. Equipped with all manner of tools both electronic and dramatic, the group adopts a “pedal to the metal” attitude that plays down “the pursuit of perfection in classical performance,” said Mary Rowell, one of the group’s violinists and a Juilliard graduate. "

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