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The front of the Dumbarton Oaks main house

Announcing the Music at Dumbarton Oaks 2018-2019 Concert Season

Posted On March 02, 2023 | 15:44 pm | by briggsm01 | Permalink
The annual Music at Dumbarton Oaks concert series returns this fall with an impressive season of performances.

For Immediate Release
October 1, 2018

Media Contact:
Erica Bogese
Communications Manager
(202) 749-8978

WASHINGTON – The annual Music at Dumbarton Oaks concert series returns this fall with an impressive season of performances. Each concert is held in the stunning Renaissance-inspired Music Room at Dumbarton Oaks, allowing guests to enjoy a specially designed acoustic experience surrounded by artistic masterpieces, such as El Greco’s Visitation, western medieval tapestries, and French Gothic sculptures. This intimate space holds just over 100 guests, providing an immersive environment for the music aficionado.

Tickets are still available and may be purchased online or by calling 202-339-6436. Performances take place Sundays at 7:00 p.m. and Mondays at 8:00 p.m. Visit the Dumbarton Oaks website for additional information about the concert series.

Poulenc Trio
October 14 & 15, 2018

The Poulenc Trio, comprised of the rare combination of oboe, bassoon, and piano, has performed around the world and in 45 U.S. states. For their concerts at Dumbarton Oaks, the Trio will consist of pianist Irina Kaplan Lande, oboist James Austin Smith, and bassoonist Bryan Young. The Trio is committed to performing works by contemporary composers and has premiered 22 works that were written especially for the Trio. The Trio frequently integrates music with other art forms, and they have collaborated with film animators, poets, and curators, as well as other musicians, including renowned violinist Hilary Hahn.

For their Dumbarton Oaks debut, the Trio will perform their namesake trio by Francis Poulenc, a French neoclassical composer. They will also perform works by André Previn, a jazz pianist and contemporary classical composer who also wrote award-winning film scores, the prolific Dmitri Shostakovich, a 20th-century composer famous for his symphonies as well as his chamber works, and Mikhail Glinka, an influential 19th-century Russian composer. They will round out the program with a piece by the contemporary American composer Viet Cuong, Trains of Thought, which was commissioned by the Trio and premiered last year.

Les Délices
November 4 & 5, 2018

Travel to 18th-century France during these concerts by the chamber ensemble Les Délices (The Delights). This early-music group introduces audiences to forgotten works by some of the best composers of the French rococo period. These works from the 1740s and 1750s were experimental for their day and differed from the music of the prior baroque period, but are not quite classical. A bit less formal than baroque music, rococo music has a graceful and light sound, and is very melodic. The members of Les Délices perform using period instruments, such as the harpsichord, to capture this sound quality.

Their program at Dumbarton Oaks, titled Age of Indulgence, contains works for oboe, strings, and harpsichord. They will perform pieces by the French composers Jean-Philippe Rameau, a music theorist who was one of the most popular composers of chamber music and operas during his lifetime; François-André Philidor, who was particularly known for his opéras comiques; Michel Blavet, a composer and exceptional flautist; and Jean-Pierre Guignon, a composer and virtuoso violinist.

Blue Heron
December 2 & 3, 2018

Celebrate the holiday season with the program Christmas in 15th-Century France and Burgundy, performed by vocal ensemble Blue Heron. This Renaissance music group values historical accuracy, however, their ultimate goal is not recreation, but rather bringing some of the most beautiful works of the 15th century to the 21st century. They work to keep this music alive and relevant, using such practices as experimenting with Latin pronunciation in an effort to make Latin sound more like a spoken language. The Music Room will round out the Renaissance atmosphere for this group’s return to Dumbarton Oaks.

Blue Heron’s program will include a mix of pieces by the best 15th-century French and Flemish musicians, all of whom were famous in their day. Composers on the program include Josquin des Prez, a central figure of the Franco-Flemish School who was known for his inventive sacred music; Guillaume Dufay of the Burgundian School and his clerc Johannes Regis, a great composer in his own right; Jacob Obrecht, who had two masses in the repertoire of the Pope’s choir; and Antoine Brumel, who was famous for his masses.

January 13 & 14, 2019

ZOFO, which is short for 20 (ZO) finger orchestra (FO), consists of two pianists who perform duets on a single piano. This Grammy-nominated duo is comprised of the two acclaimed pianists Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi. The duo has performed across the world, from Carnegie Hall to the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall, and focuses on performing 20th and 21st-century works: they commission new works annually from contemporary composers.

For their Dumbarton Oaks debut, they will perform pieces by the contemporary composers Terry Riley and Urmas Sisask. Riley, an American composer who helped develop minimalism in classical music, has written mesmerizing piano duets. Sisask, an Estonian composer, writes celestial works inspired by astronomy. They will also perform works by renowned 20th-century composer Samuel Barber, whose complex and lyrical music earned him two Pulitzer Prizes for Music, and early 19th-century composer Franz Schubert, whose music bridged the classical and romantic periods. This concert provides the opportunity to experience piano in a new way, with a program of transformative duets in an intimate setting.

Polonsky-Shifrin-Wiley Trio
February 10 & 11, 2019

Formed earlier this year by celebrated clarinetist David Shifrin, the Polonsky-Shifrin-Wiley Trio also includes cellist Peter Wiley and pianist Anna Polonsky. All the members have significant experience performing as chamber musicians, and individually have collaborated with a variety of esteemed groups and artists, such as jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Shifrin, who has performed as principal clarinetist with orchestras and symphonies throughout the country, is a member and the former artistic director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Wiley performed as the cellist for the Beaux Arts Trio and Guarneri Quartet, both of which were nominated for Grammy Awards while he was a member. Polonsky has performed as a soloist and with orchestras and quartets across the United States and Russia.

Their program at Dumbarton Oaks includes pieces by the late 19th-century French composers Gabriel Fauré, whose lush, sweeping music linked romanticism to modernism, and Claude Debussy, whose impressionist music features unpredictable melodies and ornamental flourishes. The group will also play works by the great 20th-century American composer Samuel Barber and Italian composer Nino Rota, who is especially known for his work composing film scores, working closely with Federico Fellini and winning an Oscar for his score for The Godfather Part II.

Howling Gaels
March 17 & 18, 2019

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at this concert by the Howling Gaels, a Celtic band based in Washington. The group features two soloists: Caridwen Irvine-Spatz, who plays the fiddle and sings in Gaelic, French, and English, and Liz Dreisbach, who plays the tin whistle and clarinet. They are accompanied by Eugene Jablonsky on the double bass; Greg Spatz on the bouzouki (similar to a mandolin); and Jeff McMurtery playing traditional Irish percussion instruments, such as the bodhrán (frame drum) and cajon (box percussion instrument). Playing a mix of traditional Irish songs and Celtic music from Scotland, England, Brittany, and Canada, expect to hear lovely airs on the tin whistle, emotive ballads, and dynamic jigs and reels.

The Knights, with Kinan Azmeh
March 31 & April 1, 2019

A flexible collective that combines the intimacy of a chamber music ensemble with the energy of a larger orchestra, The Knights return to conclude the season as part of a three-year residency at Dumbarton Oaks. They are joined by guest artist Kinan Azmeh, a Syrian clarinetist and composer returning to Dumbarton Oaks whose music draws from western classical traditions, jazz, and Arab music. The Knights are passionate about bringing orchestral music to new audiences, playing in such diverse venues as Carnegie Hall, subway train cars, and the Tate Modern. They pursue novelty in both the music they play and the ways they interact with audiences, while also honoring their roots in classical music.

The Knights will perform pieces by three contemporary composers to close out the season: Caroline Shaw, Thomas Adès, and a DC premiere by Azmeh. Shaw, a former Dumbarton Oaks Musician in Residence, is a New York-based musician and composer and the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music for her Partita for 8 Voices. Adès is a highly praised British composer, who is known for his operas, orchestral, and chamber works. Azmeh has composed solo, chamber, and orchestral works, including commissions for Yo-Yo Ma and Juilliard, as well as pieces for film and dance. He has performed at such renowned venues as the Opéra Bastille in Paris, the United Nations General Assembly, and Lincoln Center.


About Dumbarton Oaks

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is the legacy of Robert and Mildred Woods Bliss, collectors and patrons of art and scholarship in the humanities. The Blisses designed Dumbarton Oaks to be beautiful without and within, filling the garden with flowers, the library with rare volumes, and the house with fine art and music. The Blisses wanted the Music Room to be Renaissance in character, but to harmonize with the Georgian style of the Main House. In 1927, they acquired two sixteenth-century marble arches, said to be from Ravenna, Italy, which firmly established the room’s Renaissance character. The Blisses commissioned the Parisian designer Armand Albert Rateau to fabricate reproductions for the ceiling and floor, inspired by the guardroom of the historic Château de Cheverny near Paris. The American artist Allyn Cox was commissioned to paint murals for the walls of the Music Room corridor and entrance staircase. The Blisses used the Music Room for musical performances, scholarly lectures, and intellectual discourse. It continues to serve these purposes at Dumbarton Oaks, hosting an annual public lecture series and a concert series, which was inaugurated in 1946 as the Friends of Music.

The multiple aspects of the Blisses’ gift include the historic garden and buildings, world-class collections for researchers and the public to enjoy, and generous support for fellowships and scholarly endeavors on the local, national, and international levels. Dumbarton Oaks is a research institute of Harvard University that exists to further and publish research in the three areas of study: Byzantine Studies, Pre-Columbian Studies, and Garden and Landscape Studies. Residential fellowships for an academic year, semester, or summer are awarded in all three areas of study to scholars from around the world. In addition, Dumbarton Oaks offers one-month non-residential awards to researchers, and short-term pre-doctoral residencies to advanced graduate students. Each of the three programs of study supports and disseminates research in its relevant fields through an annual symposium; a program of public lectures, informal talks, and colloquia; and publications. The Dumbarton Oaks Museum contains the Byzantine Collection, one of the finest collections of artifacts from the Byzantine Empire with more than twelve hundred objects from the fourth to the fifteenth centuries. The Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art is housed in the Pre-Columbian Pavilion, designed by architect Philip Johnson. This collection comprises objects from the ancient cultures of Mesoamerica, the Intermediate Area, and the Andes. The House Collection consists primarily of the historic interiors, Asian, European and American artworks, and interior furnishings. The ten-acre formal garden surrounds the 1801 Federal-style house. Mildred Barnes Bliss worked closely with renowned landscape designer Beatrix Farrand to transform the land surrounding the house into terraces and vistas. The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library has extensive holdings in our three dedicated areas of study and the Rare Book Collection is strong on works of landscape architecture, botany, and horticulture, while also reflecting the research focus of Dumbarton Oaks. The Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) documents and preserves material from fieldwork and the Dumbarton Oaks Archives inventories, conserves, stores, and makes accessible the institute’s past, current, and future records and artifacts.

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