Leonore Overture

collects the music and arts criticism of Keith Powers

Rockport Chamber Music Festival enters a new era. Summer season announced.

Rockport Chamber Music Festival enters a new era. Summer season announced.

Rockport Chamber Music Festival artistic director Barry Shiffman makes impressive changes to this summer's programming.

Rockport Chamber Music Festival artistic director Barry Shiffman makes impressive changes to this summer's programming.

Pop-up concerts. Late-night cabarets. A composer-in-residence (Osvaldo Golijov). Young fellows performing, and learning. Dramatic film and theatrical presentations.

The Rockport Chamber Music Festival is coming of age, under the new leadership of artistic director Barry Shiffman. In his first summer of programming, Shiffman shakes it up. 

Yes you can still get your Bach (the complete Goldbergs; the complete cello suites). And Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Dvorak. 

And prominent quartets will perform—Brentano, Dover, Rolston, Attacca—as well as outstanding guests. But Shiffman is transforming what had been simple evenings of outstanding music, into days, evenings and late-nights of the same. 

A deeper look at the festival will come at another time. For now, enjoy the schedule and make your summer plans. Tickets go on sale in April.


2018 Rockport Chamber Music Festival

Barry Shiffman, artistic director

Osvaldo Golijov, composer-in-residence



Friday, June 15, 8 p.m.

Opening Night

Tchaikovsky: “Souvenir de Florence”

Golijov: “Ayre"

No fluff here: the festival begins with Tchaikovsky’s sweeping string sextet, and then takes a dramatic turn with Golijov’s “Ayre,” for chamber ensemble, singer and laptop. Performers include soprano Miriam Khalil, Andres Diaz (cello) Tara Helen O’Connor (flute). Joel Ivany directs “Ayre.” 

Saturday, June 16, 4 p.m.

“Kafka and Son”

Alon Nashman, actor and creator

Theater again, powered by Golijov’s music. “Kafka and Son” is a one-man show, with soundtrack (recorded version here) by Golijov. Program also includes the composers “Lullaby” and “Doina.” Performers include artistic director Barry Shiffman, violinist Danny Koo, and cellist Andres Diaz.

Saturday, June 16, 8 p.m.

Montrose Trio, with Barry Shiffman

Pianist Jon Kimura Parker teams up with members of the retired Tokyo Quartet (Martin Beaver, violin, and Clive Greensmith, cello) for works by Turina, Brahms and Mendelssohn.

Sunday, June 17, 5 p.m.

Tan Dun’s “Snow in June” pairs with movements from Messaien’s “Quartet for the End of Time” and music by Bach and Prokofiev. Diaz returns, joined by a group of percussionists, clarinetist Todd Palmer and pianist Frederic Chiu.



Thursday, June 21, 7:30 p.m.

Brahms songs (mezzo Samantha Hankey), a violin sonata (Chee-Yun, violin and Anton Nel, piano) and the great horn trio (with William VerMeulen) kick off week two of the festival.

Thursday, June 21, 10 p.m.

Late night Classical Cabaret at RCMF begins. Hankey and pianist Stephen Prutsman join the Rockport Fellowship Quartet (Jennifer Murphy, violin; Boson Mo, violin; Laila Zakzook, viola; Julie Hereish, cello) for music of Ligeti, Golijov, Bizet, Liszt and Prutsman himself.

Friday, June 22, 8 p.m.

Attacca Quartet, with Stephen Prutsman, piano, and Danny Koo, violin—all-star lineup—bring great modern works to the Shalin Liu Performance stage: Arvo Pärt’s “Fratres” and “Spiegel im Spiegel,” Steve Reich’s “Different Trains,” and Shostakovich’s third quartet. 

Saturday, June 23, 8 p.m.

Stephen Prutsman performs a range of works—a real range. Bach to Charlie Parker, Beethoven to Schoenberg.

Sunday, June 24, 5 p.m.

Early music returns to the SLPC with soprano Suzie LeBlanc and countertenor Daniel Taylor joining Adrian Butterfield’s Baroque Chamber Ensemble for works by Purcell, C.P.E. Bach, Vivaldi and Handel.



Thursday, June 28, 8 p.m.

James Ehnes (violin) and Andrew Armstrong (piano) tackle four of Beethoven’s great set of sonatas, including the “Spring” sonata. 

Friday, June 29, 11 a.m.

Free film offering of “Virtuosity—The Cliburn” investigates the high-pressure backstage and onstage workings of the 2013 festival.

Friday, June 29, 8 p.m.

2017 Van Cliburn competition winner Yekwon Sunwoo joins the Brentano Quartet in a dynamic program of music by Schubert, Ravel, Dvorak and Strauss.

Saturday, June 30, 8 p.m.

One of this generation’s great interpreters of song, soprano Dawn Upshaw, joins the Brentano String Quartet for Respighi’s “Il Tramonto,” the composer’s setting of Shelley’s poem. Brentano also performs works by Mozart, Webern and Schoenberg.

Sunday, July 1, 5 p.m.

Pianist Minsoo Sohn performs Bach’s complete “Goldberg Variations”—for Bach lovers, never to be missed.



Friday, July 6, 11 a.m.

“Exit Music,” the movie story of how some music was banned in Nazi Germany, and subsequently recovered. Free screening. 

Friday, July 6, 7:30 p.m.

Rolston String Quartet

Davóne Tines, bass-baritone and Michael Schachter, piano join the Rolston String Quartet. The highlight: Tines’s staging of “Were You There,” his blend of spirituals, art-songs and drama. Program includes music of Matthew Aucoin, R. Murray Schafer and Tchaikovsky. One of the festival highlights.

Friday, July 6, 10 p.m.

Late night returns with music of Bach and Golijov. Artistic director Barry Shiffman is joined by Luri Lee (violin), Jonathan Lo (cello) and Matt Sharrock (marimba).

Saturday, July 7, 8 p.m.

The outstanding string ensemble A Far Cry returns. Music of Golijov (“Tenebrae”), Bach, Bartok and Philip Glass (third symphony).

Sunday, July 8, 5 p.m.

Davóne Tines joins musicians from the Arc Ensemble for songs by Ibert; ensemble performs Enescu quartet, and Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s first piano quintet.



Thursday, July 12, 7 p.m.

Colin Carr performs all six Bach cello suites. Another can’t miss, for Bach lovers.

Friday, July 13, 8 p.m.

The Dover Quartet rose to prominence after a win at the 2013 Banff Competition. Now one of America’s great quartets, the Philadelphia-based ensemble performs quartets of Viktor Ullmann and Dvorak, and is joined by Shiffman on viola for the Mozart G minor quintet.

Saturday, July 14, 7:30 p.m.

Victor Borge times two. Igudesman and Joo don’t take classical music seriously—they take it apart hilariously. Comedy comes to the SLPC stage.

Saturday, July 14, 10 p.m. 

Late-night cabaret with members of the Dover Quartet, and Aleksey Igudesman, for music by Debussy, Schumann, Popper and Igudesman himself.

Sunday, July 15, 5 p.m.

The great Emerson Quartet returns with cellist Colin Carr for works of Beethoven (Op. 130) and Schubert (the C major quintet).

Sunday, August 5, 5 p.m.
Post-festival performance by the Pinchas Zukerman Trio, with Zukerman, cellist Amanda Forsyth and pianist Angela Chang performing Beethoven, Arensky and Mendelssohn.

Community Engagement Concerts

In addition to multiple pop-up concerts on Cape Ann, the festival offers a series of free programs, including several with the newly established Rockport Fellows—as well as programs specially designed by pianist Stephen Prutsman for the autistic community. These include:

Wednesday, June 27, 7 p.m.

Rockport Fellowship Quartet, with Tony Yang, piano

Saturday, June 30, 10 a.m.

Family concert, with Rockport Fellowship Quartet and Tony Yang, piano

Thursday, July 5, 2 p.m.

Open rehearsal, with Rolston String Quartet and Davóne Tines

Saturday, July 14, 10 a.m.

Family concert, with Dover Quartet


Subscriptions are available for purchase April 5. Single concert tickets go on sale April 17.  Visit rockportmusic.org or call 978-546-7391

Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos play Brahms at Symphony Hall.

Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos play Brahms at Symphony Hall.

Performances at Miami Beach's New World Center, Feb. 3 and 4, 2018.

Performances at Miami Beach's New World Center, Feb. 3 and 4, 2018.