As Mayfest enters its second decade, the chamber music festival aims to bring “a shock to the ears of the best kind” to Ithaca audiences, with the festival-headlining Chiaroscuro Quartet, a European ensemble making a rare U.S. appearance. Mayfest offers a range of music, from classics by Bach, Brahms and Beethoven to modern jazz, and will take place from May 18-22.
The festival kicks off Friday, May 18 with a free Barnes Hall concert ofjazz and classical music from Ithaca-area student ensembles. On Saturday, May 19, the Chiaroscuro Quartet will be joined by Mayfest artistic co-director Xak Bjerken, Cornell professor of music, and Ithaca College’s Dmitri Novgorodsky, playing a Stephen Hartke four-hand piano sonata.
Formed in 2005, the Chiaroscuro Quartet comprises violinists Alina Ibragimova (Russia) and Pablo Hernán Benedí (Spain), violist Emilie Hörnlund (Sweden) and cellist Claire Thirion (France). The ensemble performs music of the classical and early romantic periods on gut strings and with historical bows. The quartet’s unique sound – hailed by Gramophone as “a trailblazer for the authentic performance of High Classical chamber music”–is highly acclaimed by audiences and critics across Europe.
Sunday afternoon, May 20, the festival takes a trip to Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology, where fortepianist Roger Moseley, associate professor of music, will augment the quartet’s program of Mozart, Mendelssohn and Schubert. Monday night, May 21, will see Mayfest’s annual sell-out Carriage House jazz concert, this year featuring Ithaca favorites Thirteen Degrees: Nicholas Walker (bass), Greg Evans (drums) and Nick Weiser (piano).
Mayfest ends on a high note with the Chiaroscuro Quartet performing Haydn and Beethoven, festival artistic directors Miri Yampolsky and Bjerken premiering a four-hand piano work by Elizabeth Ogonek, and Yampolsky joining the quartet for Brahms’ Piano Quartet in C minor.
Yampolsky, senior lecturer of music, and Bjerken founded the festival, sponsored by Cornell’s Department of Music.
Tickets may be purchased online or at the door: Festival full passes at $90 for adults, $25 for students; or individual tickets at $25 for adults, $10 for students, free for listeners below age 18 with an accompanying adult.
Deborah Justice is concert manager for the department of music.