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Music in the Vineyards Keeps Its Distance and Soldiers On

August 4, 2020

Music in the Vineyards is keeping the spirit in its annual festival, even as concerts move online. The Napa Valley summer series, now in its 26th season, is still pairing chamber music and wineries, world-class musicians and favorite composers. But this year it’s for an audience at home.

The virtual festival, dubbed “[email protected],” kicks off this week with four concerts, Aug. 5 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. PT and Aug. 8 and 9 at 5 p.m. PT. Listeners can tune in for free on YouTube or on Music in the Vineyards’ website. As always, intimate music-making is the focus, and this year’s chamber programs make the most of music at a distance.

The Pacifica Quartet have the big piece on the Aug. 5 opening concert, Mendelssohn’s String Quartet Op. 44, No. 1. Also on the program: Bay Area cellist Tanya Tomkins plays a movement from a Bach suite, and longtime collaborators Nicholas Canellakis and Michael Brown perform Brown’s Bach-inspired Prelude and Dance.

Not surprisingly, solo Bach is a running theme throughout the virtual season, and established ensembles fill out a number of this year’s programs. Online, MITV is keeping the emphasis on new and recent performances. So along with unaccompanied repertoire and longtime partners, this year’s musicians are getting creative. Francisco Fullana plays both parts of a Mozart piano-and-violin sonata, and Artistic Director Daria Adams has commissioned a round-robin performance of the Bach Chaconne, a la Augustin Hadelich — both for the final concert, Aug. 23.

The festival’s three weeks of performances follow a set schedule — Wednesdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m. PT and Saturdays and Sundays at 5 p.m. PT — and each concert will be available to stream through Aug. 31. And of course, MITV is living up to its name: husband-and-wife Artistic Directors Daria and Michael Adams host each concert remotely from a winery venue, with the wineries offering MITV listeners an online discount.

Peter Feher is an editor at SFCV. He can be reached at [email protected].