In 1969, Yellow Barn began in David and Janet Wells’s Putney farmhouse with its attached yellow barn. At that time Yellow Barn was a simple summer gathering of friends, teachers, and students, all working together to learn and play the chamber music they loved. Since then a lot has changed. And nothing has changed.
The Wellses still own their charming yellow barn, Yellow Barn still lives and thrives in Putney, and it is still an egalitarian, supportive learning environment where good people come together to make wonderful music. And there is still a special spirit involved, a current of creativity and enthusiasm that touches musicians and listeners alike. The Wellses retired as Yellow Barn Artistic Directors in 2001, and were succeeded by Artistic Director Seth Knopp. The old barn retired soon after, yielding to the Big Barn, a new and equally charming hall just down the road, with more (and more comfortable) seats, excellent acoustics, and construction designed specifically for chamber music by its generous owner/builder, John Michael McKenzie.
That small summer gathering has evolved into a vibrant chamber music center of international repute, where outstanding musical thinkers and performers of different generations meet to exchange ideas, inspire each other, and be challenged to explore and experiment with repertoire ranging from the 17th to 21st Centuries, often influenced by the presence of composers in residence. In the course of Yellow Barn’s main five-week summer season in July and early August, there are more than 40 chamber music concerts, public masterclasses, pre-concert discussions and community outreach events. In addition to the core Yellow Barn program, the summer season includes the Young Artists Program, a unique, smaller-scale training session for 13- to 20-year-old performers and composers, which immediately precedes the main program and features three public performances in June and early July.
Yellow Barn today is renowned throughout the music community for its unique educational philosophy. Our audiences are curious, critical, enthusiastic and supportive. Our program remains intimate and inspiring, and we are delighted to welcome old friends and new to our extraordinary summer musical family.