Music Mountain Announces 2020 Summer Music Festival Lineup

(Falls Village, CT) Chamber music and jazz aficionados alike will want to mark their calendars for Music Mountain’s 91st Season! America’s longest-running chamber music festival kicks off on June 7 honoring the late Peter Serkin’s legacy, with pianist Benjamin Hochman and Friends playing Bach and Mozart at the 2020 Music Mountain Opening Benefit Concert & Reception.

The 2020 Chamber Music Series presents a spectacular lineup of string quartets and guest artists, while the Twilight Jazz Series remains focused on traditional jazz, swing and the American Songbook. Concerts are scheduled through September 20.

Chamber Music Series:
Rediscovering Beethoven @ 250

Music Mountain is eager to join the many celebrations of Beethoven’s 250th birthday anniversary this year. With its unique season theme, “Rediscovering Beethoven @ 250,” Music Mountain aspires to shed new light on the titanic composer, who raised the string quartet to a level of artistry unmatched before or since. This summer, 11 of the 17 chamber music concerts will feature a master work by Beethoven within a diverse program, contrast being the catalyst to rediscovering Beethoven. In addition, like Brahms, who composed and discarded 20 string quartets before he felt ready to publish his first at age 40, many other composers fell under Beethoven’s spell, and their work will be generously represented.


Another 91st Season highlight will be Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, the extraordinary hour-long monument to the transformative power of music, written while the composer was a World War II prisoner, featuring the Horszowski Trio and Music Mountain artistic director Oskar Espina-Ruiz on clarinet, June 14.

The season continues with fourteen outstanding string quartets playing exceptional programs, including the American, Amernet, Arianna, Ariel, Cassatt, Daedalus, Harlem, Jupiter, Parker, Penderecki, Rolston, Shanghai, Ulysses, and Verona String Quartets. Eighteen stellar guest artists will perform this summer: pianists Tanya Bannister, Bernadene Blaha, Todd Crow, Misha Dichter, Simone Dinnerstein, Fei-Fei, Adam Golka, Judith Gordon, Benjamin Hochman, Pei-Shan Lee, Soyeon Kate Lee, and Victoria Schwartzman; violists Vivek Kamath, Maria Lambros, and Paul Neubauer; cellists Michael Kannen and Paul Katz; and clarinetist Oskar Espina-Ruiz.

The new and exciting works that will bring diversity to the programing in 2020 include Caroline Shaw’s “Blueprint” (Penderecki String Quartet, June 21), Corigliano’s “Snapshot—Circa 1909” (Arianna String Quartet, July 5), Jessie Montgomery’s “Strum” (Harlem Quartet, July 26), Paul Frucht’s “Rhapsody” for String Quartet, written in 2018 (Ulysses Quartet, August 16), Missy Mazzoli’s “Quartet for Queen Mab” (Daedalus Quartet, September 13), and Tan Dun’s “Eight Colors for String Quartet” (Ariel Quartet, September 20, concluding concert). Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s String Quartet in E Flat Major (Harlem Quartet, July 26) and William Grant Still’s Lyric Quartette (Musical Portraits of Three Friends) (Daedalus Quartet, September 13) further expand the diversity of this summer’s programming.

The piano chamber repertoire is extensive this summer, including the piano quintets by Brahms, Dohnanyi, Dvorak, Franck, Schnittke, Schumann and Shostakovich, and piano quartets by Brahms (G Minor, Op. 25), Faure (C Minor, Op. 15), Mozart (G Minor, K. 478) and Schumann. The Opening Benefit Concert & Reception featuring pianist Benjamin Hochman includes the chamber music version of the Mozart Piano Concerti #12 in A Major, K. 414, and #14 in E Flat Major, K. 449.

Twilight Jazz Series

Lovers of traditional jazz, swing and the American Songbook, won’t want to miss Music Mountain’s Twilight Jazz Series featuring the great Swingtime Big Band on July 25. This summer seven jazz bands will fill up the wonderful acoustics of Gordon Hall on 12 Saturdays at sunset (at the new start time of 7 PM): Jive By Five, New Black Eagle Jazz Band, Swing Times Five with Debby Larkin, Riverboat Stompers Jazz Band, Swingtime Big Band, Wolverine Jazz Band, and Galvanized Jazz Band.The Twilight Jazz Series continues with five outstanding shows: Peter & Will Anderson Quartet returns with a program that celebrates Irving Berlin, Barbara Fasano Trio Featuring Eric Comstock performs American Songbook Standards from Sondheim to Sting, Aaron Johnson Quintet debuts with a program commemorating Charlie Parker at 100, and New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players bring a “well paced and extremely entertaining” show (Talk Entertainment).

Music Mountain is well known for its Sunday afternoon chamber music concerts, but the Twilight Jazz Series is gaining popularity year after year, offering great music in a relaxed atmosphere with outstanding acoustics, over the backdrop of the beautiful Litchfield Hills at sunset. 

Community Events and Summer Programs for All

Music Mountain is launching a free Lecture Series this summer, featuring performing artists and guest speakers on June 14 and August 16, two Sundays at 1:30 PM, right before the 3 PM concert, and on Monday, August 17, also at 1:30 PM.On June 14, Messiaen, the ornithologist composer, will serve as inspiration for a morning Birdsong Walk at Music Mountain, led by the Litchfield Audubon Society. Music lovers can purchase a day pass that includes the 10 AM birdsong walk, lunch at the Falls Village Inn, the pre-concert lecture and 3 PM concert.

The 3rd Annual Painting Music Event will take place on August 22, 11:30 AM, bringing together families, young artists and professionals to paint on the Music Mountain lawn with live music. Materials are provided and the event is free, but signing up is required.

Music Mountain’s Adult Chamber Music Program welcomes adults of all ages to play under the guidance of the Arianna String Quartet from July 5-9. Space is limited and registration is required.

Music Mountain’s Summer Education Programs attract students from all over the country, who come to Music Mountain to immerse themselves in music-making with mentoring faculty. Those programs include the Music Mountain Academy, Next Festival of Emerging Artists, Lumino Festival, Lucarelli Oboe Master Class, Harlem Quartet Workshop and, starting in 2020, the Etchings Festival for emerging composers.

Connecticut’s Region 1 Schools’ 3rd and 4th Graders will come to Music Mountain on April 21 to experience live music featuring young artists from Bard College.

Tickets and Location

Music Mountain is located at 225 Music Mountain Road, in Falls Village, Connecticut, where a short scenic drive will bring you to Gordon Hall atop Music Mountain. Free parking and picnic facilities are available.Regularly scheduled Chamber Music Concerts are $40. Twilight Series Concerts are $35. Children ages 5-18 are admitted FREE to ALL CONCERTS when accompanied by a ticket holder. Sunday afternoon Chamber Music concerts are at 3 PM. Saturday evening Twilight Concerts are at 7 PM. Under 40 Single Tickets are $20. College Student Tickets are $10.

Specially Priced Concerts are as Follows: tickets for the Benefit Concert & Receptions on Sunday, June 7 or September 6 are $75. The Special Concert on Sunday, August 2 is $60.

Early Bird Ticket Packages for most concerts include up to a 35% discount and are available only until June 12. The Birdsong Walk Day-Pack for Sunday, June 14, includes an Audubon Society led Birdsong Walk, Falls Village Inn Lunch, Music Mountain Lecture and Concert for $70 ($10 for under 18). The Twilight Dinner & Concert Pack returns in 2020, including a Saturday Dinner at the historic Falls Village Inn at 5 PM, and Twilight Concert at Music Mountain at 7 PM, for $70.

Discounts apply through participating organizations. For a complete summer schedule, special ticket prices, and to download a ticket order form visit or call 860-824-7126.

About Music Mountain

Music Mountain’s mission is the performance and teaching of the string quartet literature. While this mission remains vibrant in Music Mountain’s world-class Chamber Music Concert Series and Music Mountain Academy, it has expanded over the years with the addition of its popular Twilight Jazz Concert Series, and new education and community programs.Since 1930, generations of music lovers have come to Music Mountain for an exceptional concert experience and, today, audiences continue to praise the outstanding quality and consistency of the events at Music Mountain, the exceptional acoustics of air-conditioned Gordon Hall, and the beauty and peaceful serenity of Music Mountain’s mountaintop grounds. While The New Yorker has described Music Mountain as “the summer shrine of the string quartet,” recent concertgoers see Music Mountain as “a peaceful green oasis” and highlight its “amazing venue, ambience, and experience.”

Music Mountain, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, began as the unique vision of Jacques Gordon, Chicago Symphony concertmaster from 1921 to 1930 and the founding first violinist of the Gordon String Quartet, one of the leading quartets of its time. The buildings at Music Mountain form a well-designed campus in the Colonial Revival style. They were built by Sears, Roebuck & Company’s pre-fabricated housing division and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, artistic director Oskar Espina-Ruiz and Music Mountain’s dedicated board of directors steer Music Mountain through a period of continued growth, record-breaking attendance, campus improvements, and the expansion of its education and community programming.

Music Mountain is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development Office of the Arts, the Peter N. Krysa Fund of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, and two funds of the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation, Inc.: the Khurshed Bhumgara Fund, and the Lucia Tuttle Fritz Fund.

(subject to change)

Chamber Music Concerts
Sundays at 3 PM (plus Saturday, September 5 at 7 PM)

JUNE 7    TIKETS $75
Underwritten in Part by Thomas C. Ragan
Music Mountain’s 91st Season Opening Benefit Concert & Reception
Benjamin Hochman & Friends
Benjamin Hochman, piano, with String Quintet, 2 Oboes, 2 Horns
BACH: Toccata for Keyboard in F Sharp Minor, BWV 910
MOZART: Piano Concerto #12 in A Major, K. 414
MOZART: Piano Concerto #14 in E Flat Major, K. 449

Horszowski Trio
Oskar Espina-Ruiz, Clarinet
MENDELSSOHN: Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 66
MESSIAEN: Quartet for the End of Time
(Pre-Concert Lecture in Gordon Hall at 1:30 pm)
(This Concert is Part of the Birdsong Walk Day Pack starting at 10 am)

Penderecki String Quartet
Tanya Bannister, Piano
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in C Major, Op. 59 #3
SCHUMANN: Piano Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 47

Parker Quartet
Simone Dinnerstein, Piano
BARTOK: String Quartet #3
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 132
MOZART: Piano Quartet in G Minor, K. 478

Arianna String Quartet
Judith Gordon, Piano
MENDELSSOHN: String Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 44 #3
CORIGLIANO: Snapshot – Circa 1909
BRAHMS: Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34

Rolston String Quartet
Adam Golka, Piano
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in B Flat Major, Op. 130
SCHULHOFF: Five Pieces for String Quartet
BRAHMS: Piano Quartet in G Minor, Op. 25

Verona Quartet
Victoria Schwartzman, Piano
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in F Major, Op. 18 #1
DVORAK: String Quartet in G Major, Op. 106
SCHNITTKE: Piano Quintet
(Silent Auction to benefit Music Mountain: complimentary wine and refreshments starting at 1 pm, winners announced 15 minutes after the end of the concert)

Misha Dichter and the Harlem Quartet
Misha Dichter, Piano
FANNY MENDELSSOHN HENSEL: String Quartet in E Flat Major
DVORAK: Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81

Underwritten in Part by William Gillers
American String Quartet
Paul Neubauer, Viola
HAYDN: String Quartet in B Flat Major, Op. 76 #4 “Sunrise”
RAVEL: String Quartet in F Major
BRAHMS: Viola Quintet in G Major, Op. 111

Amernet String Quartet
Vivek Kamath, Viola
MOZART: Viola Quintet in B Flat Major, K. 174
SHOSTAKOVICH: String Quartet #8 in C Minor, Op. 110
BEETHOVEN: Viola Quintet in C Major, Op. 29 “Storm”

Ulysses Quartet
Maria Lambros, Viola
Michael Kannen, Cello
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95 “Serioso”
FRUCHT: Rhapsody for String Quartet
TCHAIKOVSKY: String Sextet in D Minor, Op. 70 “Souvenir de Florence”
(Pre-Concert Lecture in Gordon Hall at 1:30 pm)

Cassatt String Quartet
Paul Katz, Cello
Pei-Shan Lee, Piano
BOCCHERINI: Cello Quintet in C Major, Op. 42 #2
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in C Minor, Op. 18 #4
DOHNANYI: Piano Quintet in C Minor, Op. 1

Jupiter String Quartet
Soyeon-Kate Lee, Piano
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 74 “Harp”
BRITTEN: String Quartet #2 in C Major, Op. 36
SCHUMANN: Piano Quintet in E Flat Major, Op. 44

SEPTEMBER 5   (Note: Saturday at 7 pm)
Shanghai Quartet
HAYDN: String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 74 #3
SMETANA: String Quartet #1 in E Minor “From My Life”
BARTOK: String Quartet #1 in A Minor, Op. 7

Underwritten by Michelle and Robert Connell
Labor Day Benefit Concert & Reception
Shanghai Quartet
Bernadene Blaha, Piano
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in A Major, Op. 18 #5
YI-WEN JIANG: Selections from China Song
FRANCK: Piano Quintet in F Minor

Daedalus Quartet
Todd Crow, Piano
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in G Major, Op. 18 #2
WILLIAM GRANT STILL: Lyric Quartette (Musical Portraits of Three Friends)
MISSY MAZZOLI: Quartet for Queen Mab
SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op. 57

Ariel Quartet
Fei-Fei, Piano
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 127
TAN DUN: Eight Colors for String Quartet
FAURE: Piano Quartet in C Minor, Op. 15

Twilight Jazz Concerts
Saturdays at 7 PM (NEW TIME)

Underwritten by an Anonymous Donor
New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players
“Well paced and extremely entertaining.” (Talk Entertainment)

Jive By Five
The sizzling dance music of the Jazz Age: from the Charleston to the Two-Step and the Fox Trot.

New Black Eagle Jazz Band
The very best in New Orleans Jazz, Gospel and Blues.

Swing Times Five with Debby Larkin
Best hot dance tunes, sweet ballads and vintage standards.

Riverboat Stompers Jazz Band
New Orleans Traditional Jazz, Dixieland, and Swing from the 20’s to the ‘recent’ 60’s.

Barbara Fasano Trio Featuring Eric Comstock
Songbook Standards from Sondheim to Sting
“A lyrically sensitive interpreter with a special affinity for Joni Mitchell” (The New York Times)

Swingtime Big Band
Swingin’ on the Silver Screen: Swingtime returns with a fun new program of cinematic hits from the Great American Songbook!

Aaron Johnson Quintet
Celebrating Charlie Parker at 100

Wolverine Jazz Band
Kings of Swing, Ragtime and Hot Dance

Peter & Will Anderson Quartet
The Andersons play Irving Berlin
“These guys flood the room with joy.” (Seattle Times)

Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet
This “dynamic ensemble explores the affinities between modern jazz and the Afro-Latin continuum in Peru.” (The New York Times)

Galvanized Jazz Band
The “Best Jazz Band in the State” (Connecticut Magazine) “gets your blood running” (Jazzbeat) with hot Dixieland, New Orleans Jazz, and more.

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