Related materials for the Grisey residency

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Our Artist Residencies are as much an opportunity for Yellow Barn’s audience, staff, and the Putney community to explore new ideas as they are for the resident artists themselves.

As I am sure it is for many, the planetarium was always one of my favorite places to visit as a child. Looking forward to Yellow Barn's upcoming residency devoted to the preparation and performance of Gerard Grisey's Le Noir de l'Etoile, I put together a group of pieces that like Le Noir de l'Etoile draw inspiration from and give new meaning to natural wonders. In addition, I asked a friend who turned his love of astronomy into real knowledge, to recommend several books (and a few videos) that might take us into that universe soon to be explored by Yellow Barn's six percussionists and Tom Geballe of the Gemini Observatory.

—Seth Knopp


Franz Schubert (1797-1828) Winterreise (1827)
Thomas Quasthoff, baritone, and Daniel Barenboim, piano
This great song cycle sets 24 poems of Wilhelm Muller. It is one of the most heart-wrenching works Schubert wrote and was completed in the last year of his life. It uses the natural world as emotional metaphor as well as word painting.
The baritone, Thomas Quasthoff, has serious birth defects from thalidomide poisoning, which shortened his arms and legs, and he has just retired at the age of 52. His story is quite incredible and would be one that speaks of great courage (and enormous talent).
After almost 40 years, I have decided to retire from concert life. My health no longer allows me to live up to the high standard that I have always set for my art and myself. I owe a lot to this wonderful profession and leave without a trace of bitterness.
On the contrary, I am looking forward to the new challenges that will now enter my life. I would like to thank all my fellow musicians and colleagues, with whom I stood together on stage, all the organizers, and my audience for their loyalty. —Thomas Quasthoff
John Luther Adams (b. 1953) Earth and the Great Weather (1990-93)
Earth and the Great Weather is a 75-minute musical evocation of Alaskan peoples, wildlife, and weather. Subtitled “A Sonic Geography of the Arctic”, Adams’s writing is based on the aural mood unique to each place and each moment. Innovatively tuned strings, percussion interludes, and voices are woven with the sounds of loons, cranes, wind, waves, thunder, and glacial cracking (all recorded by Adams himself).
Gustav Holst (1874–1934) The Planets (1914-16)
CD: James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
DVD: Houston Symphony and Music Director Hans Graf
Produced by celebrated filmmaker Duncan Copp, The Planets - An HD Odyssey marries the latest images returned from planetary spacecraft with Holst's music to provide a mesmerizing spectacle. Disc one contains the film accompanied by a newly recorded soundtrack by the Houston Symphony and the women of the Houston Symphony Chorus. Disc two contains a documentary with an in- depth interview with Music Director Hans Graf and interviews with leading planetary scientists.


H. A. Rey The Stars - A New Way to See Them
From the author of Curious George comes a book of art and writing designed to bring science to a general audience. Containing star charts, a guide to the constellations, and details about seasons and the movement of the objects we see in the sky, this classic book makes evident H. A. Rey's passion for astronomy.
Chet Raymo 365 Starry Nights
Divided into 365 concise, illustrated essays, it focuses on the aesthetic as well as the scientific aspects of stargazing each night of the year. It offers the most up-to-date information available, with hundreds of charts, drawings, and maps. This simple yet substantial text is full of critical information and helpful hints on how to observe the stars; describe their position; and calculate their age, brightness, and distance.
Michael Benson Beyond: Visions of the Interplanetary Probes
To create Beyond, author Michael Benson spent years compiling and digitally processing 295 of the greatest photographs taken by the space crafts that have been exploring the solar system for almost half a century. The images, many revealing iconic landmarks, are of a quality to rival the greatest landscape photography on Earth. The text is eloquent and informative, with contributions by legendary science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke and award-winning critic Laurence Weschler, as well as essays by the author.


Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Solar System and Wonders of the Universe (BBC TV)
(with accompanying books)
Wonders of the Solar System and Wonders of the Universe introduce us to the planets and moons beyond our world, finding the biggest, most bizarre, and most powerful natural phenomena. Using the latest scientific imagery along with cutting edge CGI and some of the most spectacular and extreme locations on Earth, Brian Cox explores how these previously unseen phenomena have dramatically expanded our horizons with new discoveries about the planets, their moons, and how they came to be the way they are.
Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking (Discovery Channel)
(also his book A Brief History of Time)
With profound imagination, internationally renowned physicist Stephen Hawking plunges into the exotic realms of black holes and quarks, of antimatter and “arrows of time,” of the big bang and a bigger God—where the possibilities are wondrous and unexpected.
Website for the Gemini Observatory
Visit the Gemini Observatory website for videos, podcasts, a visual tour on the World Wide Telescope, and other images. 

Images from the Crumb Madrigals Project

Monday, March 26, 2012

After devoting a week to developing a multi-media presentation, Yellow Barn's Crumb Madrigals artist residency culminated on March 24, 2012 with a public performance and discussion at Next Stage in Putney, VT. During their week in Putney the artists shared their work with community members in a lecture-demonstration at the Putney Public Library and with 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students from Putney Central School and the Grammar School.


Left: Soprano Mary Bonhag and percussionist Greg Beyer discuss Crumb's Madrigals and their project at the Putney Public Library.
Right: Ensemble members talk with 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students from the Putney Central School and the Grammar School.

Putting the Madrigals project in context

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Stephen Smoliar writes for the Classical Music Examiner:

Want to learn about George Crumb? Go to Vermont!

The American composer George Crumb has received almost no attention in my efforts to write about performances of music. Yesterday I received word from Yellow Barn of their own small effort to reverse this trend.  Yellow Barn is a center for the study and performance of chamber music founded in 1969 and run by Artistic Director Seth Knopp.  The center is located in Putney, Vermont;  and, in spite of this remote location, they have achieved international recognition for their residencies, workshops, and adventurous approaches to chamber music.

Read the full article

Press for Soundings and Yellow Barn

Friday, March 2, 2012

Gegory Isaacs writes for Arts & Culture Magazine North Texas:

In 2010, the Nasher Sculpture Center added a chamber music series to its many other offerings. In keeping with the eclectic quality of its art collection, Nasher’s Director Jeremy Strick, wanted something completely different so he turned to Seth Knopp, a founding member of the award-winning Peabody Trio and artistic director of Yellow Barn, an internationally recognized chamber music study and performance program in Putney, Vermont.
“Soundings: New Music at the Nasher,” is the happy result. Now in its second season, the nearly sold out series has intrigued and delighted classical, as well as world music buffs, throughout North Texas.
Knopp and Yellow Barn have been integral to this effort right from the start. This internationally respected music center is a hotbed of musical innovation and ongoing musical exploration. Its principal activities are a five-week summer chamber music festival/training program for young professional musicians, a training program for high school instrumentalists and composers and a year round series of artist residencies and workshops.

Read the full article

Crumb Madrigals video preview

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

In a short video Bart Woodstrup gives insight into his process and a preview of some of the images created for the March 24th performance.

Behind the Crumb Madrigals Project

Monday, February 27, 2012

Due East is thrilled to be joining Duo Borealis and harpist, Jacqui Kerrod, to mount this multi-media production of George Crumb's Madrigals with video artist Bart Woodstrup. We gathered together in early January in our cozy Bronx apartment to begin working on the music. Everyone sounds fantastic and there is a lot of natural chemistry between the ensemble. Erin was at the center of the network, as she had worked with Evan in Carnegie's Academy program and with Jacqui in a "Debussy" trio. In just days we were able to take successful first passes at all four books. It was a joy.

Our video artist, Bart Woodstrup, is a colleague of mine here at Northern Illinois University and we applied for and received an inaugural internal grant specifically geared for this sort of multi-media collaborative project. We have used our funds to purchase three matching video projectors and a video card that allows these projectors to be controlled by one computer. Bart has been steadfastly developing content that lends color and added depth to the poetic language of Garcia Lorca, whose poetry runs throughout Crumb's cycle.  

Furthermore Bart and I have begun developing materials to build portable video screens to take on tour with us. This will allow us to create a three-dimensional video environment for the work; rather than only projecting on a singular flat surface behind and above the stage, as is typically the case with multi-media musical productions. Ideas in this regard are still nascent and "in progress" and we are thrilled at the idea of taking a week in mid-March at Yellow Barn to flush out logistics and meld it into our interpretive take on these haunting yet starkly beautiful works.

A big shout out to Seth Knopp, Catherine Stephan and the rest of Team Yellow Barn for making this upcoming residency possible! We are so thankful to have the opportunity and cannot wait to put poetry in motion. We hope you'll consider joining us on Saturday, March 24th, for our first performance of this project. It promises to be unique and beautiful.

Signing out,