Humility in recreating a musical score, and the craft and conviction needed to communicate it meaningfully, frame the interpreter's quest. It is this quest that, above all else, informs Yellow Barn's educational philosophy.
While sharing this philosophy, the members of Yellow Barn's faculty approach it in highly individual ways. This results in a constant, lively exchange of ideas and an environment in which participants are unusually receptive and responsive to one another. Faculty members spend much of their time rehearsing and performing with participants. Their desire and ability to teach by example promotes collegiality, inspiring each participant to find a unique interpretive voice and the confidence to express oneself musically.
The Yellow Barn participant's journey with a chamber music work begins well before the festival opens. Four weeks before their arrival, participants receive their assigned repertoire and are notified when each work will be performed and rehearsals will begin. Participants are expected to prepare for the first rehearsal as they would in any professional situation and to commit to performance — a vitally important part of the development of musicians and their relationship to the music they play. Performance is not regarded as the ultimate goal but as part of a unified process of interpretation and communication, exploration and discovery.
Yellow Barn concerts reflect a wide range of compositional voices, from the Baroque to the music of today, and the rich variety of instrumentation required by this repertoire opens musicians to the greater possibilities of their own instruments. Expanding the range of musical language that we play and hear stimulates the imagination and frees the interpreter from the constraints and weight of tradition. Working with living composers also informs the musician's interpretation of venerable works of the chamber music literature. The programming and assigning of repertoire takes into consideration requests by participants and faculty while addressing imbalances in each participant's prior experience. Participants are not only exposed to a wide variety of music, but have varying lengths of time in which to prepare each work. The experience of preparing for a performance in one week is quite different from having the luxury of living with a piece for three or four weeks. Both ends of this spectrum provide invaluable experience for performers.
Certainly Yellow Barn's size is an important factor in what we do and how we do it. The number of participants is intended to give us the freedom to explore a wide range of repertoire while remaining small enough to maintain a very personal feeling at the festival. Yet when we describe Yellow Barn's atmosphere as "intimate", we are referring not just to the number of musicians participating each summer, but to the warm and beautiful post-and-beam barn where performances are held and the New England setting that the festival calls home. Most importantly, we are describing a trust that is established between faculty, participants and audience members — one that allows us to feel that we are all part of the same lifelong process of musical discovery.