"Harriet, Scenes from the Life of Harriet Tubman"

Thursday, July 20, 2023

On July 30th Yellow Barn's will present the American Premiere of Hilda Paredes' Harriet, Scenes from the Life of Harriet Tubman at the 2023 Summer Gala, followed by a general performance on July 31st. How did Harriet come to be, and what does it mean to perform it at a chamber music festival?

Hilda Paredes said, "After being invited by Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México to write a new opera, I asked my friend Claron McFadden if she would like to feature in this project and she immediately introduced me to Harriet Tubman. A six-year journey began then, discovering the extraordinary life and personality of Harriet Tubman. I always say and still think that if she had lived in the twentieth century she would have been awarded the Nobel peace prize."

After which Claron offered the following response by Zoom from Barcelona:

Find out more about the performance of Harriet at our Summer Gala on Sunday, July 30

Find out more about the general performance on Monday, July 31

Lei Liang's Six Seasons

Thursday, July 13, 2023
Yellow Barn’s 54th summer festival features three unique opportunities to experience Lei Liang’s extraordinary “Six Seasons” (2022) for improvising musicians and pre-recorded sounds.
On Thursday, July 13, Yellow Barn’s festival concert will include three of Liang’s “Six Seasons” on the Big Barn stage. Yellow Barn will also set up a “listening room” between July 14 and 16 from 9:30am - 5:00pm where audience members can immerse themselves fully in Liang’s ice soundscapes. On Sunday, July 16 at 2pm, we will host a “Patio Noise” virtual discussion with Lei and Dr. Joshua Jones, the oceanographer with whom he collaborated to create this special piece.
Season 5: Cacophony (Image from the Chukchi Sea)
Six Seasons represents the culmination of a years-long collaboration between Liang, the inaugural Research Artist in Residence at the Qualcomm Institute (QI) and Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor of Music at UC San Diego, and oceanographers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
In composing Six Seasons, Lei Liang used environmental sounds recorded from hydrophones under the remote Chukchi Sea to tell an urgent and breathtaking story about our oceans. “Working with Professor Liang has transformed sound recordings that we typically think of as data into a personal experience of the underwater world deep within the Arctic Ocean,” said Jones. “It’s been extremely meaningful and we’re asking new research questions as a result.”
The work’s six movements reflect the Inuit categorization of the seasons, marked not by numerical dates but by environmental changes both audible and inaudible (In Liang’s terms, ice is the “living score” by which the Inuit live their lives; in Six Seasons, it also becomes a “living score” for improvising musicians to listen and respond to. “These sounds call for a different way of listening, challenging our temporal and spatial orientations,” Liang has said. “Increasingly, these sounds are drowned out by anthropogenic noises including industrial activities and passing ships. Today, we can no longer presume any empathy with the ocean merely from the comfort and the fixed perspective of a beach chair: our oceans are in crisis."

Music Haul Flip Side: Baltimore

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

"Every citizen a storyteller." On this Fourth of July we cannot resist remembering our incredible Flip Side poets. We are proud to share their work with you, alongside Jennifer Curtis, violinCharles Overton, harp, and Chase Morrin, piano. Thank you to the families of Saint Luke's Youth Center and The Park School of Baltimore. As CJ Williams proclaims at the end of his poem to Langston Hughes and Beethoven: "Baltimore is beautiful!"

In the spring of 2023, Yellow Barn launched Music Haul: Flip Side Baltimore. Responding to the poetry of Langston Hughes and music of Ludwig van Beethoven, ten young poets from St. Luke’s Youth Center and the Park School of Baltimore spent six weeks writing and collaborating with Yellow Barn musicians to bring the work of these two great creative voices, and their shared dream for humanity, into our lives. Their collective journey culminated on May 10th in Kirby Lane Park.

Learn more about Yellow Barn Music Haul's Flip Side: Baltimore

Yellow Barn’s 2023 Summer Artwork

Thursday, May 25, 2023
We could not be more honored to announce that this year's summer artwork is the creation of our dear friend and colleague of many years, Brian Cohen. Six of Brian's watercolors (2011-2016) will be incorporated into our season materials, including this commemorative poster. (To purchase a poster, write to us at
"Shut your eyes, wait, think of nothing. Now, open them ... one sees nothing but a great colored irradiation and glory of color. This is what a picture should give us…a colored state of grace." (Paul Cezanne)
I had been working in black and white for over twenty years before returning to my earlier infatuation with color. My watercolors are done on site, usually fairly quickly. I apply paint into wet paper, timing the drying of the paper as I lay in new washes of color. Painting in the landscape lets me sit happily observing light, color, and shape, simplifying or obscuring detail in favor of larger forms and the broader swell of color. I aim for a “color chord" or harmony that speaks of time, light, and distance all at once.
—Brian Cohen
About the Artist
Brian D. Cohen is an educator, printmaker and painter. He founded Bridge Press in 1989 to further the association and integration of visual image, original text, and book structure. His books and etchings are held by major private and public collections throughout the country, including his artist book of Pierrot Lunaire, which he created in 2003 to accompany a performance of Schoenberg's work at Yellow Barn. Brian was also part of Beethoven InSight, a group of four local artists brought together by Yellow Barn to create a body of work in honor of, and in response to, Beethoven's music and his creative process in honor of the composer's 250th birthday.
Artist’s books and prints by Brian D. Cohen have been shown in over forty individual exhibitions, including a retrospective at the Fresno Art Museum, and in over 200 group shows.  Cohen's books and etchings are held by major private and public collections throughout the country, including Yale, Harvard, Brown, and Stanford Universities, Middlebury, Smith, Wellesley, Swarthmore, and Dartmouth Colleges, the University of Vermont, The New York Public Library, The Library of Congress, and the Philadelphia and Portland (Oregon) Museums of Art, as well as the United States Ambassador's residence in Egypt. Brian was the first-place winner of major international print competitions in San Diego, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC., was awarded the Best Book in Show at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Fair, and has received grants from the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Community Foundation. He was the Dean of Faculty at the Putney School, and the founding director of the Putney School Summer Programs from 1987 until 2001, and was the founding artistic director of the Two Rivers Printmaking Studio in White River Junction, Vermont. He is the illustrator of two popular natural science books Reading the Forested Landscape, and The Granite Landscape, and is a frequent contributor of artwork to literary reviews and other publications, including the Paris Review. A book of his work, Brian D. Cohen: Etchings & Books, was published in 2001. He was graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude with high honors from Haverford College and completed his Master's degree in Painting at the University of Washington. Brian is an avid collector of books and prints, rides motorcycles, and plays classical viola. 

Beethoven Walks at the Nasher

Monday, February 6, 2023

Seth Knopp's Beethoven Walks at the Nasher, commissioned by the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, TX, opened on February 5, 2023 and will remain open until May 21, 2023.

Ludwig van Beethoven left behind a vast visual record of his compositional process, a staggering reflection of the humanity that defines his music. Beethoven Walks at the Nasher Center incorporates sketches and the autograph manuscript with a recorded performance of one of the composer’s most profound and personal musical utterances, his “Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit, in der lydischen Tonart (Holy Song of Thanksgiving to the Deity from a convalescent, in the Lydian mode), the third movement of his String Quartet, Opus 132 completed in 1825.

View the visitor guide and listen to the recording

Takács Quartet
Edward Dusinberre and Károly Schranz, violins; Roger Tapping, viola; András Fejér, cello
Used with permission from Decca

Beethoven Walks at the Nasher is dedicated to the memory of Roger Tapping, one of the great chamber musicians of our time and a beloved Yellow Barn faculty member for nearly 20 summers. The opening event took place on February 5th, Roger's birthday.

About Beethoven Walks

Beethoven Walks is a project begun in the early spring of 2020 during our collective isolation, serving a universal need to better understand our humanity through music and the beauty of our world. The first installations, produced by Yellow Barn in Putney, Vermont, spanned four miles of woodland trails and included nine works by Beethoven accompanied by over 180 pages of sketches and autograph manuscripts. Beethoven Walks at the Greenwood School in Putney remains open to the public. 

Find out more about Beethoven Walks

Beethoven Walks was imagined and created by Seth Knopp and produced by Catherine Stephan.

Acknowledgments for Beethoven Walks at the Nasher


Howard Printing
John Kramer Design

Op.132 Autograph sketches and manuscript

Staatsbibliotek zu Berlin

Op.132 Recording

Decca Music Group, Ltd. (2004)


Nasher Sculpture Center

"Trust is key."

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

On July 15, 2023, Jeremy Eichler visited Yellow Barn's summer festival, and subsequently wrote about his Barn experience for the Boston Globe:

SoYoung Choi, Sam Suggs, and Nicholas Mann perform selections from György Kurtág's "Signs, Games, and Messages" in the Big Barn

Kurtág, Brahms, and Symanowksi, with blueberries on top
On Friday night, the Yellow Barn music festival once more served up a bracing mix of old and new

By Jeremy Eichler, Globe Staff

PUTNEY, VT — A casual passerby could be forgiven for their raised eyebrows. On Friday evening, outside the general store in this small Vermont town with a population of just over 2,600, a group of students could be heard debating the merits of a particular Debussy arrangement with feisty undergraduate zeal.

Chamber music insiders, however, would be less surprised by the scene. Every summer for 53 years, dozens of advanced students and early-career musicians descend on Putney, where they join a loyal group of faculty members at a progressive-minded music festival known as Yellow Barn. Now in its 25th year under the imaginative leadership of artistic director Seth Knopp, the place runs less like a traditional festival and more like a laboratory for rethinking what a chamber concert might try to do and to be.

Trust is key. Knopp and executive director Catherine Stephan seem to have weaned audiences from the widespread habit of turning out based on the names they recognize from the program. At Yellow Barn, an audience member may know none of the players on a given night, and may have never heard of 80 percent of the repertoire. No matter. They know the program will likely cohere artistically, that the performances will be deeply committed, and that they will probably leave having discovered something bracing and new.

The current season at Yellow Barn, which runs through Aug. 6, honors the memory of Roger Tapping, a distinguished violist who played in both the Takacs and Juilliard Quartets, and a much-loved Yellow Barn faculty member who taught participants across multiple decades. Friday night’s program was one of several this summer featuring music with which Tapping was particularly connected — in this case, works by Brahms, Szymanowski, and the Hungarian master György Kurtág.

Kurtág may be the least well-known of these three composers, but on Friday’s program, the laser-like intensity and haunting eloquence of his music overshadowed just about everything else. It’s for good reason that, at 96, he may be the most revered composer alive today. His music posits modernism itself as a kind of broken mirror in which the vibrations of a century riven by unimaginable violence commingle with the fractured yet still-glowing fragments of the self.

Friday’s program opened with selections from Kurtág’s series “Signs, Games, and Messages,” performed by a trio of strings (SoYoung Choi, violin; Nicholas Mann, viola; and Sam Suggs, bass). The first short work, “Virág az ember, Mijakónak,” offers up elemental musical gestures rendered with heavy practice mutes clamped onto the bridges of all three instruments, dampening their resonance and cutting their volume beneath that of a whisper. In lesser hands, the effect might seem like a gimmick, but not here. Kurtág’s music often dramatizes the existential struggle for expression itself, and “Virág az ember, Mijakónak” speaks in this vein, as if each note were painstakingly wrested from an abyss of silence.

When coaching players in his own music, Kurtág famously brooks no compromise, demanding highly exacting performances. Fortunately, that is precisely what Friday’s trio offered, rendering the opening selection and 10 others from this series with precise technique, interpretive vision, and impeccable musicianship. The audience listened with rapt attention.

Perhaps inevitably, most of the remainder of Friday’s concert receded from these Kurtágian heights, with festival participants strolling more casually in the meadows below. Mezzo-soprano Rebecca Printz and pianist Chaeyoung Park sauntered through an involving set of Szymanowski songs. And an assemblage of faculty and younger festival players gamely took on Brahms’s immortal B-flat Major String Sextet.

The Sextet’s glorious theme-and-variations Andante may be its best-loved movement, and when listening to a live performance, one rendition never feels like quite enough. Happily, on this occasion, we heard it not once but twice thanks to Qing Jiang’s spirited and tonally robust account of Brahms’s solo piano arrangement of that very same movement.

With COVID-19 still in the air, the festival hall (known as “The Big Barn”) is technically limited to 60 percent of its usual capacity, but on Friday, with participants lavishly cheering their colleagues from the balcony, the space felt as full as ever. And yes, in case you were wondering, at intermission the festival still serves its trademark snack of local blueberries on vanilla ice cream. To be sure, Yellow Barn is back — and there is no place quite like it.