A Nocturnal Partnership: Music at the Museum presented by the Bowdoin International Music Festival

"Nocturne," from the "First Venice Set," 1879-80 by James Abbott NcNeill Whistler

“Nocturne,” from the “First Venice Set,” 1879-80 by James Abbott NcNeill Whistler

First developed in the eighteenth century, the musical nocturne gained new prominence in the first half of the nineteenth century. James Abbott McNeill Whistler famously seized upon the melodic metaphor as a way of describing his emotive and impressionistic evocations of the approach of evening.

This summer, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art is proud to partner with the Bowdoin International Musical Festival in presenting a pair of concerts of musical nocturnes on July 2nd and July 23rd. It is a delightful note on which to welcome the Festival’s new Co-Directors, Phillip and David Ying, who build on the extraordinary legacy of the founding director, Lewis Kaplan.

We thank Phillip Ying for sharing his thoughts, below, about our collaborative programming and the music to which we will be treated:

Partnership and context are two of the most exciting features of the new Music at the Museum initiative between the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and the Bowdoin International Music Festival. It is a wonderful privilege for the Music Festival to collaborate in this project with the Museum of Art, not only because the Museum is a historic and cultural treasure at the College and in the Brunswick and surrounding community, but because it will bring together audiences and patrons of both the visual and performing arts. In addition, the gallery space at the Museum will provide a wonderful and fresh context for appreciating the talents of the world-class musicians that come each summer for the Music Festival. Coinciding with the start of the 2015 Music Festival is the opening of the special exhibition at the Museum, Night Vision: Nocturnes in American Art, and the theme of this exhibition suggests all kinds of natural musical overtones and resonances as well.

There are several other noteworthy aspects of the two Music at the Museum performances planned for this summer. The 11 a.m. weekday time represents an attractive alternative to the typical evening presentations of most of the Music Festival recitals. The flexible and intimate space of the gallery also allows us to program in a different way than some of the larger Festival concerts. For this summer, we are planning to highlight a series of partnerships that will be exclusive to this series. For example, Tao Lin and Catherine Lan, and David Ying and Elinor Freer are musical and real life couples who will perform together only at the Museum; David Requiro and Kurt Muroki will join in a high spirited duo for the unusual combination of cello and double bass; Sergiu Schwartz will join Tao Lin for a violin sonata; and Ayano Ninomiya will step out of her usual role in the Ying Quartet to perform a musical menagerie of animal themed works with new faculty pianist, Pei Shan Lee. Finally, George Lopez, well known to the Bowdoin and Brunswick communities will initiate the series by playing, what else, a couple of nocturnes both for solo piano and in collaboration with a couple of Music Festival artists.

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