---- — Birds of Paradise, Greek mythology and a piece Mozart called “the best work I have ever written,” will all be featured during the opening night of the Cooperstown Summer Music Festival.
This will mark the 15th year of the music festival, which will kick off at 7:30 p.m. July 7 at the Otesaga Hotel with the concert “Birds of Paradise: Music for the Winds and Piano.” In addition to works by Debussy, Mozart and Poulenc, the evening will feature a multi-media work that pairs a live performance of Robert Sirota’s 2008 composition “Birds of Paradise” with videos and bird calls from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Birds-of-Paradise Project. At a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m., Cornell Lab of Ornithology scientist Ed Scholes, composer Robert Sirota and festival artistic director Linda Chesis will discuss their collaboration. Scholes, an evolutionary biologist, spent eight years and 18 expeditions scientifically documenting all 39 species of the birds-of-paradise family with National Geographic photographer Tim Laman.
“The birds-of-paradise are universally captivating and have been inspiring poets, painters and musicians for centuries. Almost everyone, from scientist to regular citizen, is drawn to them out of a sense of aesthetic wonder similar to what we experience through fine art and music,” Scholes said in a media release.
He added: “The multimedia piece accompanying Sirota’s ‘Birds of Paradise’ is a perfect combination of science, nature and the arts. We’re excited that our spectacular video of these unique birds will be presented with Sirota’s composition at this year’s Cooperstown Summer Music Festival.”
“Imagine watching these extraordinary birds in HD, hearing a composer’s evocation of bird sounds, combined with actual bird calls,” said Chesis, who will perform on opening night with James Roe on oboe, Marianne Gythfeldt on clarinet, Adrian Morejon on bassoon, Zohar Schondorf on French horn, and Pedja Muzijevic and piano.
The Birds-of-Paradise Project video that will be shown at the Festival was edited by Jim Berman, creative director of Zapcast Creative.
Two composers’ musical portraits of Pan and Syrinx will be performed: “Pan” from Britten’s Six Metamorphoses after Ovid, Op. 49 and “Syrinx” by Debussy. Mozart’s “Quintet for Piano and Winds,” the “Poulenc Sextet” and “Francaix Quartet” will round out the evening’s program.
“The Mozart is the first work of its kind and a cornerstone of the woodwind repertoire. This program shows the woodwind family’s breadth and variety of tonal color,” Chesis said in the release. “It’s just perfect for a summer Sunday evening.”
On Aug. 4 in a 3 p.m. afternoon concert, the Baroque ensemble Rebel will perform works by Corelli, J.S. Bach, Gallo, Gabrieli, Boyce and Telemann. Vienna is the focus of two festival concerts on Aug. 7 with the Amphion String Quartet, flutist Linda Chesis and clarinetist Mingzhe Wang, and on Aug. 14 with the Walden Chamber Players.
Chesis said she was curious to explore how the Viennese culture inspired three centuries of composers. She notes that Viennese treats will be served at intermission at both concerts.
Vocalist Hilary Kole will return to the festival on Aug. 11 to headline a jazz performance. She will offer songs from Cole Porter and Irving Berlin to Elvis Costello and Paul Simon.
The festival finale will include a return performance of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra. This 15-member group will perform Mozart, Ravel, a 2013 commission by Judd Greenberg and more.
The release said the popular and free Pro Am Performances, which pair highly accomplished amateur musicians with professional artists, will be held at 7:30 p.m. July 9 at Pathfinder Village in Edmeston, July 10 at Grace Church in Cherry Valley and July 11 at at Christ Church in Cooperstown. A fourth free performance, the Flute Fest with the NYSMF International Flute Institute, will be held Aug. 1 at the Otesaga.
Tickets are available online at CooperstownMusicFest.org and by phone through Brown Paper Tickets at (800) 838-3006. Tickets also will be sold at the door, as available. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students ages 6 to 18. Pro Am performances and the Flute Fest on Aug. 1 do not require a ticket or reservation.
For more information, visit www.CooperstownMusicFest.org or call (877) 666-7421.