The Rite of Summer Festival on Governor’s Island kicked off again this past July 7th, but there are two more exciting shows coming up on August 4th with The JACK Quartet and the Sept. 3rd show featuring violinist-composer Todd Reynolds. These concerts are free to the public, so please do check them out!
Pianists and artistic co-directors of the series Blair McMillen and Pam Goldberg had a few minutes to talk about the concerts.
CM: Can you talk about the Rite of Summer Festival and what has made these concerts significant to audiences?
Pam: The Rite of Summer Music Festival takes place on the uber-trendy Governors Island, a place The New York Times has called, “a playground for the arts”. We present free outdoor concerts, several times each summer featuring some of the most exciting musicians and ensembles in the country. Rite of Summer is about pushing the envelope, taking risks, and re-defining what the concert experience is for the 21st century. Audiences are not sitting in chairs facing forward and expected to remain perfectly still. Instead they are rolling out blankets, enjoying a picnic and some of them, even dancing along. This is a unique way to experience classical music and people are responding to it!
CM: What are your thoughts on this years artists: Ljova and The Kontraband, The JACK Quartet and Todd Reynolds?
Blair: All three of our groups embody these ideals: they are asking people to stand up and take notice, and they are doing it in unique and exciting ways. Ljova and the Kontraband are klezmer/gypsy meets Stravinsky and improvised jazz. The JACK Quartet is at the forefront of ensembles who are constantly commissioning composers and performing the newest of the new. And they are not afraid to mix the complex with the comical, or older Renaissance transcriptions with very young composers. Todd Reynolds is the perfect live performance for a Labor Day weekend: he brings incredible energy and fun to the concert stage. His multi-tracking and looping of material is infectious: it is music with a soul, but music that also makes you want to get up and dance.
Todd Reynolds plays Michael Lowenstern: Crossroads (The Stone, NY; 2011)
CM: In a climate where people in the new music/classical are having discussions about audience development, do you feel that the outdoor free concerts are a good step toward progressing the turnouts for most concerts?
Pam: We really do feel that the outdoor free concerts are the way to go. This type of setting creates an un-intimidating and casual atmosphere, and one in which people who aren’t familiar with classical music can feel comfortable. The fact that the concerts are free opens the doors to a much wider audience as well.
Rite of Summer Music Festival | Governors Island, New York (official website)