Spirit of the Maverick leads to innovations in its second century

After 101 seasons of chamber music in the woods, you might think that Maverick Concerts doesn’t need to make any changes. But Maverick’s spirit remains young and changes are in the works. Those Saturday and Sunday concerts aren’t going away, but there are some new aspects and even some new locales in mind. And wait until you sit on the ergonomically-designed new benches!

Maverick even has a new Executive Director, its first. Kitt Potter comes from a jazz background (Maverick audiences will get to hear her sing at the hall in 2018) but also has serious experience in guiding and managing nonprofit organizations of diverse types. Why did Maverick suddenly need an Executive Director? “I believe the board felt it was time,” Potter says. “It’s been running beautifully with a Music Director, volunteers and independent contractors. But it’s never had a director who focuses on administrative affairs.”
Aside from focusing on the organizational side of things (Music Director Alexander Platt remains in charge of the programming), Potter has helped organize an expansion of Maverick’s activities, which she hopes will grow. For the first time, Maverick will be presenting programs in other locales. The new-music string quartet ETHEL will present a free concert on June 23 at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum in ‘conversation’ with the Kate McGloughlin exhibit — Requiem for Ashokan-The Story Told in Landscape. The same group plays a regular Maverick concert the following day. This concert includes recent string quartets by three prominent composers and arrangements of music from Stevie Nicks, Sonic Youth, and Aretha Franklin. And on August 12, the Harlem Quartet plays a Young People’s Concert (also free) at 11 a.m. at the Kleinert-James Arts Center, in collaboration with the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild. Again the same group plays at Maverick the following day.

This could be just the start. Potter is looking forward to engaging Maverick in further collaborations with arts organizations in Woodstock through the Woodstock Cultural Alliance and around Ulster County. She is even considering the possibility of running Maverick-sponsored programs in other locales during the months outside the Maverick season. And she will foster cooperation among the existing local presenters to avoid the conflicts that have sometimes limited concert audiences.

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Another new program at Maverick which Potter particularly likes is Maverick Prodigies. “Alexander and I saw kids in the audience enjoying adults on stage. We decided to flip that.” The First Maverick Prodigies event is The Ladles, Friday, July 7, at 8 p.m. The young members of this group are Katie Martucci (a protegé of Woodstock legend Betty MacDonald), Caroline Kuhn, and Lucia Purpura-Pontoniere. Potter and Platt are hoping to continue this series for future seasons and possibly expand it beyond one concert.

Yet another new project, entirely in Platt’s domain, is the New Foundations series, bringing a larger than usual quota of recent music to the regular concert series. One special feature of this project will be three consecutive Sunday concerts, July 9, 16, and 23, which will present the three String Quartets of prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis, in order. Composer Robert Starer, a commanding presence at Maverick during his lifetime, once told me he preferred to have his music on programs with standard repertory rather than having it segregated in “new music” concerts. In this spirit, Kernis will share programs with the three string quartets of Brahms and with Britten (Chiara Quartet, July 9), Stravinsky (Parker Quartet, July 16), and Haydn (Jasper String Quartet, July 23, the ensemble’s Maverick debut).

“New Foundations” permeates the Maverick “classical” programs, all but two of which include at least one 20th or 21st century work. The exceptions are the Miró Quartet’s welcome all-Dvorák concert on June 25, and the Amernet String Quartet’s program of August 20. (After Wolf’s “Italian Serenade,” pianist Ron Dank joins for piano quintets by Dvorák and the 19th century Polish composer Juliusz Zarebski.) July 2, the Escher String Quartet plays “old” 20th century music — Bartók’s Quartet No. 3 and Sibelius’s String Quartet — along with Schubert’s Quartet in E flat. July 8, the Spektral Quartet in its Maverick debut plays Augusta Read Thomas, Gerard McBurney (a world premiere), Philip Glass, and the 20th century Ravel. On July 30, Trio Con Brio Copenhagen returns with Mozart, Smetana, and Shostakovich. August 6, the Dover Quartet plays Schumann, Szymon Lake, and Tchaikovsky.

The program for the percussion ensemble NEXUS on August 12 isn’t announced yet but it will probably be its typical mix of classical percussion works and pop/jazz arrangements. The Harlem Quartet, August 13, plays Turina, Gabriela Lena Frank, Guido López Gavilán, and Borodin. The annual Chamber Orchestra Concert led by Platt, always a highlight, on August 26, includes 20th century works of Dominick Argento and Ned Rorem, along with recent arrangements by Wolfgang Renz of music by Ravel and Mussorgsky. August 27, Trio Solisti plays works of Dvorák (not the familiar “Dumky” Trio), Jennifer Higdon, and Schubert. Even the Friends of Maverick benefit concert on Sept. 3, by the Horszowski Trio, includes Daron Hagen’s 1986 Trio No. 2, along with Schubert and Mendelssohn. For the final concert of the season, pianist Oren Weiss joins the Shanghai Quartet for Dvorák’s Piano Quintet No. 2 and plays 3 solo piano Busoni arrangements of Bach organ Chorale Preludes. The Quartet performs Beethoven’s Op. 95 and Penderecki’s Quartet No. 3, a 2008 Shanghai Quartet commission.

Voluminous as this listing may seem, it doesn’t include everything. On Saturday, June 17, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, June 18, at 4 p.m., Ars Choralis offers its now-traditional pre-season Maverick concert with Haydn’s great “Lord Nelson” Mass and works of Copland. Jazz at Maverick brings back the Arturo O’Farrell Quintet for a Young People’s Concert on July 1 at 11 a.m. and an Older People’s Concert at 8 p.m. Bill Charlap returns with his Trio on July 15. Eldar Djangirov returns with his Trio on July 29. And Karl Berger and the Creative Music Studio play on Sept. 2, all of these at 8 p.m. Bansuri flute player Steve Gorn, a Woodstock legend, plays Indian ragas with singer Sanjoy Banerjee and tabla player Samir Chatterjee on August 5. And in accordance with another recent series, paying tribute to the longtime tradition of theatrical performances at the Maverick, Actors and Writers presents two Saturday programs, on July 22 (a “staged reading” of Paul Osborn’s 1939 play “Morning’s at Seven”) and August 19 (“Brand New Shorts” written by company members). The entire schedule is laid out very clearly at www.maverickconcerts.org.

It seems every summer the Maverick season grows both longer and denser. Imagine what it will be like when there are further collaborations and the possibility of year-round performances at other venues! Coming soon?

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