The Litchfield Hills’ Sound of Music
Chamber music has long been synonymous with summer in northwestern Connecticut. Two of the state’s quietest and remote towns—Norfolk and Falls Village—each have music festivals with long, storied traditions: the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival/Yale Summer School of Music and Music Mountain.
Music Mountain kicks off its 78th season on Saturday night (which is traditionally devoted to choral music or jazz) with a concert by Chorus Angelicus, Connecticut’s premiere children’s choir, featuring 25 singers ages 12-17, who’ll sing works by Purcell, Vivaldi, Schubert, Mendelssohn and Brahms. On Sunday, the St. Petersburg String Quartet with take the stage in the acoustically stunning 335 seat Gordon Hall, which was built by Sears Roebuck in 1930 (and was finally air conditioned a few years ago.) The concerts at Music Mountain are frequently broadcast on WAMC and WQXR.
While Music Mountain claims to be the oldest continuing chamber music festival in the nation, Norfolk’s has a longer history. dating back to 1899 when Ellen Battell and her husband Carl Stoeckel, son of the Yale School of Music’s first professor, founded the Litchfield County Choral Union. They began hosting chamber music concerts as well as choral concerts in their 35-room mansion, Whitehouse, and in 1906 had local architect E.K. Rossiter build a music shed that still stands. When she died in 1939, Mrs. Battell Stoeckel let her estate to Yale and in 1941 the Yale Summer School of Music opened its doors. Its 66th season begins on July 4 with a program by Shostakovich and Kodaly. The hot ticket of the season is the July 13 performance by Midori, the violinist who made her 1982 debut with the New York Philharmonic at the age of 11. Tickets for Midori’s recital range from $150 (which includes a reception with the artist) to $25.
Music Mountain Road
Falls Village, CT; 860.824.7126
Norfolk Chamber Music Festival/Yale Summer School of Music
Routes 44 & 272, Norfolk, CT; 860.542.3000