Hip in the hills: Mount Tremper Summer Arts Festival

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Mount Tremper: Is there even a “there” there? Everyone I know from Mount Tremper (interesting folks, all) seems to live at least 15 miles from everyone else I know in Mount Tremper. But the schedule of events at the sprawling, multi-modal and indefatigably hip Mount Tremper Summer Arts Festival describes a radically different place: perhaps of a secret city hidden in the hollowed breast of a Catskill where people too cool for Brooklyn and even for Hudson hang out and live the life of the positively current urban mind.

The eighth annual Mount Tremper Summer Arts Festival stretches right across the heart of the summer, from July 11 to August 22. The Wall Street Journal has called it the “Fresh Air Fund for experimental artists,” The New York Times “a magnet for adventurous urban artists,” to which Almanac Weekly adds “yeah.” The lineup of challenging, transgressive and ultra-now dance, music, opera, theater and literature is just kinda bizarre, to be honest.

The festival kicks off with an Art-B-Q on Saturday, July 11 at 7 p.m. and at 8 with the opening of Camp, a weeklong experiment in choreography, art and collective living curated by the multi-art performance collective AUNTS.

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On Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18 at 8 p.m., New Orleans theater artists Nat & Veronica present the world premiere of Clouds/Cows, a multimodal exploration of the pastoral timescale and the endangered art of zoning out. Part one, Clouds, combines live choral performance with large-scale living sculptures, immersing audiences in a collective daydream. Part two, Cows, presents a funny and tender portrayal of a year in the life of three domestic bovines.

On Friday and Saturday, July 24 at 25 at 8 p.m., audiences are treated to a special outdoor performance of composer David Malloy’s witty and weird song cycle about love, death and whiskey, Ghost Quartet. Seated amongst the audience, Brittain Ashford, Gelsey Bell, Brent Arnold and Malloy perform music for four voices, cello, guitars, dulcimer, Celtic harp, erhu, autoharp, accordion, keyboards and percussion, raising the spirits of murder ballads, doo-wop, angular bebop, Chinese folk, Islamic adhan and the music of Bernard Herrmann and George Crumb. Ghost Quartet is designed by Christopher Bowser and directed by Annie Tippe.

On Friday and Saturday, July 31 and August 1 at  8 p.m., the esteemed experimental music ensemble the Flux Quartet returns to Mount Tremper to perform the world premiere of Tom Chiu’s RETROCON, as well as iconic works by late-20th-century masters Conlon Nancarrow and John Cage and new music by composer/pianist Marc Neikrug and additional emerging composers.

The award-winning International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) returns for its fifth consecutive season with soprano Tony Arnold, performing composer David Lang’s Whisper Opera, a critically acclaimed chamber opera, written at Mount Tremper Arts and designed for an intimate audience of 35 people. Whisper Opera will be performed on Friday, August 7 at 8 p.m., Saturday, August 8 at 6 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, August 9 at 3 p.m.

On Friday and Saturday, August 14 and 15 at 8 p.m., MTA presents a preview of John Jahnke and his company Hotel Savant’s Alas, the Nymphs, the first section of Jahnke’s Men Go Down, a trilogy combining the construction of Greek drama with fairytale sensibility to examine the ramifications of antique guilt infesting our modern conscience.

The Festival concludes with another Art-B-Q, this one subtitled “Pork and Poetry,” featuring the experimental poetry of Tan Lin and Robert Fitterman on August 22 at 7 p.m. The reading begins at 8.

Ticket options to the eighth annual Summer Festival include a $95 season pass or $20 individual tickets, which are available online at https://mounttremperarts.org, by phone at (845) 688-9893 or in person at the Mount Tremper Arts box office, which opens one hour before events. There is no reserved seating. Mount Tremper Arts is located at 647 South Plank Road in Mount Tremper.

 

Mount Tremper Summer Arts Festival, July 11-August 22, https://mounttremperarts.org.

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