Yellow Barn pays tribute to Robert Mann

On July 14, Yellow Barn honors Robert Mann, the founding first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet, who died in January at the age of 97.

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PUTNEY— Yellow Barn continues into the second week of its 49th anniversary season with concerts on Thursday and Friday nights July 12 through 14 in the Big Barn, followed by an all-day tribute to violinist Robert Mann that includes a film at Next Stage and dinner at the Gleanery, plus a morning masterclass and evening concert at the Big Barn. Audience members are invited to attend any one of these events, or group them together for a full celebration.

On July 14, Yellow Barn honors Mann, the founding first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet, who died in January at the age of 97. Yellow Barn faculty emeritus Bonnie Hampton remarks on his legacy, "Robert Mann has had an enormous impact on American Chamber Music, blazing the trail for hundreds of musicians to find a life in the exploration and realization of some of the greatest music to be written for that medium." He worked tirelessly in his career to help music be experienced simply as music, undivided by excessive layers of definition.

Mann personally touched many Yellow Barn faculty, including Brentano String Quartet violinist Mark Steinberg, who comments on lessons with Mann, "There was a visceral, hands-in-the-dirt quality to the work." Continuing in that tradition, violinist Don Weilerstein, also a former student of Mann, begins July 14's celebration with a violin masterclass at 10:30 a.m. in the Big Barn, an annual event that has become a mainstay of the festival, demonstrating the festival's unique approach to the work and inspiration that comes from chamber music study.

At 5 p.m., Next Stage joins Yellow Barn in presenting the documentary "Speak the Music: Robert Mann and the Mysteries of Chamber Music," directed by Oscar-winning director Allan Miller. Yellow Barn faculty member Nicholas Mann will lead a discussion of his father's life and legacy after the screening. At 6:30 p.m. pre-concert dinner at the Gleanery invites patrons to gather in between the film and the tribute concert at the Big Barn. The performance features Bach's Contrapunctus 11 from The Art of the Fugue BWV 1080, a work that was performed and recorded by the Juilliard String Quartet. The concert also includes Schumann's "Mondnacht" from Liederkreis, Op.39 arranged by Colin Matthews for oboe quartet (Mark Hill, oboe), Dvorak's Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 26 (Peter Frankl, piano), Schubert's String Quintet in C Major, D.956 (Donald Weilerstein, violin; Roger Tapping, viola), and Robert Mann's own "Little Red Hen" variations for narrator and string quartet (Lucy Shelton, narrator; Nicholas Mann, viola).

Earlier in the week, on July 12 evening, Yellow Barn faculty and participants explore the ways in which composers lovingly embrace and comment upon the music of their contemporaries and predecessors. The concert is bookended by pieces of the Italian Renaissance, beginning with Sciarrino's Le voci sottovetro, which examines Gesualdo madrigals of the 16th century through a distorted lens and ending with Brescianello's Trio Sonata in C Minor. The Sciarrino flows uninterrupted into Liebeslied by Abrahamsen, entitled as a song, but which ironically does not involve a singer. At the center of the program are three pieces united by Debussy's unfinished opera based on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher." Two different takes on Debussy's obsession with Poe are represented in Hersant's Usher and the world premiere of Entretien "Interview" by Yellow Barn faculty composer Steve Coxe. These pieces are followed by Debussy's Sonata for Cello and Piano, materializing the tentative link that had been explored with Debussy's opera in the preceding pieces. The program also includes Mozart's Piano Quartet in G Minor, K. 478.

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July 13's concert features Oliver Knussen's Triptych, a set of three distinct pieces conceived together, but typically performed separately. These pieces traverse through diverse instrumentation, featuring a violin and piano duet, a piano solo, and an oboe quartet, respectively, in the three parts. The performance also includes Mozart's String Quintet in G Minor, K.516 and Cesar Franck's Piano Quintet in F Minor (Peter Frankl).

July 13 is "Latchis Arts" night, the first of several evenings honoring local organizations at Yellow Barn. Also on Friday, audience members can enjoy dinner at Duo in Brattleboro and receive complimentary tickets to that evening's concert. Tickets at Duo are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Yellow Barn's 49th anniversary season continues through Aug. 4 with 29 events taking place in the Big Barn. Visit Yellow Barn on social media for an inside look at the festival, and check out the blog for updates on Yellow Barn locally, across the United States, and internationally.

All concerts and masterclasses take place in the Big Barn. Concerts are at 8 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Patrons can purchase tickets by calling the box office at 802-387-6637, by emailing info@yellowbarn.org, or by visiting yellowbarn.org. Advance reservations are strongly encouraged for guaranteed admission. Senior and student discounts available.