Some of the featured artists performing in Music@Menlo 2021
Some of the featured artists performing in [email protected] 2021

Smaller in size than its 18 previous seasons, but as ambitious and star-studded as ever, [email protected] is launching a live/streamed 2021 season between July 16 and August 1.

Artistic directors Wu Han and David Finckel have announced a season called “Gather” in and around the festival’s new home, the $40 million Spieker Center for the Arts (designed by Hacker Architects.)

Main concerts and auxiliary events are as usual, but more squeezed together. The big change is in the festival’s much-lauded educational programs; see more about that below.

Featured concerts are performed at 4 p.m. on Friday-Saturday-Sunday in the Spieker Center, and repeated at 6 p.m. outdoors. Each concert runs an hour, without intermission (meaning no audience mixing in pandemic times). How much of Spieker’s 384-seat capacity will be used? “It is likely there will be some distancing but we will have to follow state guidelines on that, and it is too soon to specify,” says festival publicist Milina Barry.

Spieker Center for the Arts exterior
Spieker Center for the Arts exterior

The nine main concerts are grouped over three weekends:

I–III. Coming Together, July 16–18
IV–VI. Modern Romance, July 24–25
VII–IX. Take Five, July 30 – Aug. 1

Streaming the concerts costs $25, live-attendance tickets are $45 for outdoor and $55 for indoor performances, but for the time being, only online tickets are available, as the announcement explains:

“Tickets are currently on sale for festival performances via livestream online. If and when it is allowed by health authorities, we will announce opportunities to attend these performances in-person on the Menlo School campus. Tickets purchased for online events can be upgraded for in-person performances when available. All-Access Pass subscribers will receive priority access for these in-person tickets.”

The festival’s distinction, the Chamber Music Institute’s educational-training programs, are also maintained, if with significant changes. For the senior division, the International Program, the young artists this year will participate in the concerts, playing side-by-side with their instructors. The Young Performers Program is online, not on campus, which has drawbacks similar to the Zoom-based education experience in schools, perhaps even more so.

Patrick Castillo, [email protected] maven of everything, composed the work opening the festival’s 2021 season. | Credit: [email protected]

The season-opening concert (July 16) begins with the world premiere of Patrick Castillo’s Gather, a work commissioned for the new hall. Castillo, who has had a variety of positions with the festival since it began has recently been named the New York Philharmonic’s vice president of artistic planning. Castillo talked about his new work:

I was so honored to be asked by David and Wu Han to create a new piece to celebrate the opening of [email protected]’s new concert hall. For the occasion, I composed a paean to our sacred ritual of coming together around a shared love of music. Little did I know at the time how starved we would be for that ritual by the time of the piece's first hearing. I'm excited to share it with the Menlo community.”

David Finckel and Wu Han
Festival Co-Directors David Finckel and Wu Han | Credit: [email protected]

The concert continues with the Brahms Scherzo in C Minor and Schubert’s “Trout Quintet” in A Major for piano and strings. Performers include violinists Kristin Lee and Arnaud Sussman; violist Matthew Lipman; cellist David Finckel; double bassist Scott Pingel; pianists Wu Han and Ji Na Kim.

Program II (July 17): Mozart’s Piano Quartet in G Minor; Schubert’s Fantasy in F Minor for Piano, Four Hands; and Arno Babajanian’s Piano Trio in F-sharp Minor. Artists: Kristin Lee, Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu, violin; Matthew Lipman, viola; Dmitri Atapine, David Finckel, cello; Gilbert Kalish, Hyeyeon Park, Wynona (Yinuo) Wang, piano.

Program III (July 18): Janácek Violin Sonata; Ligeti Sonata for Solo Cello; Brahms String Sextet No. 1 in B-flat Major, op. 18. Artists: Yeri Roh, James Thompson, Angela Wee, violin; Matthew Lipman, Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu, viola; Dmitri Atapine, Audrey Chen, Sterling Elliott, cello; Hyeyeon Park, piano.

Program IV (July 23): Beethoven Piano Trio in G Major, op. 1, no. 2; Mendelssohn String Quintet no. 2 in B-flat Major. Artists: Kristin Lee James Thompson, Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu, violin; Matthew Lipman, Paul Neubauer, viola; Dmitri Atapine, David Finckel, cello; Wu Han, piano.

Program V (July 24): Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes for Piano, Four Hands, op. 52a; Dvořák String Sextet in A Major, op. 48, B. 80. Artists: Arnaud Sussmann, Angela Wee, violin; Paul Neubauer, Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu, viola; Dmitri Atapine, David Finckel, cello; Gilbert Kalish, Ji Na Kim, piano.

Angela Wee
Violinist Angela Wee | Credit: From the Top

Program VI (July 25): Brahms Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Minor, op. 60; Shostakovich Piano Quintet in G Minor, op. 57. Artists: Kristin Lee, Yeri Roh, James Thompson, violin; Matthew Lipman, Paul Neubauer, viola; Audrey Chen, Sterling Elliott, cello; Hyeyeon Park, Wynona (Yinuo) Wang, piano.

Program VII (July 30): Bizet Jeux d’enfants (Children’s Games) for Piano, Four Hands, op. 22; Schumann Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, op. 44. Artists: Kristin Lee, James Thompson, violin; Paul Neubauer, viola; Dmitri Atapine, cello; Ji Na Kim, Hyeyeon Park, Wu Han, piano.

Program VIII (July 31): Beeethoven String Trio in G Major, op. 9, no. 1; Ysaye Rêve d’enfant (A Child’s Dream), op. 14; Brahms Piano Quintet in F Minor, op. 34. Artists: Arnaud Sussmann, James Thompson, Angela Wee, violin; Paul Neubauer, Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu, viola; Audrey Chen, David Finckel, cello; Gilbert Kalish, Wu Han, piano.

Program IX (Aug. 1): Fauré Violin Sonata No. 1 in A Major, op. 13; Dvořák Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, op. 81, B. 155. Artists: Kristin Lee, Yeri Roh, Arnaud Sussmann, violin; Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu, viola; Sterling Elliott, cello; Wynona (Yinuo) Wang, Wu Han, piano.

There are many other festival activities, such as Chamber Music Institute public events and recorded Prelude performances — all listed on the festival website.

David Finckel teaching at Music@Menlo
From the festival’s past glory of the Young Performers Program, not possible during the pandemic — Festival Co-Director David Finckel working with children | Credit: [email protected]

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