The 104th (!) season of Maverick Concerts is about to begin, and changes are in the works. A couple of decades ago, Maverick presented a classical chamber music concert on Sunday afternoons and that was all. Under the administration of Music Director Alexander Platt, Maverick added Saturday evening concerts, most of them also classical. But Saturday Jazz at the Maverick concerts have been proving very popular, and this season they are mostly taking over Saturdays. Aside from the July 27 “Evening of Music and Meditation,” with classical pianist Frederic Chiu, the only Saturday classical concert this season takes place on August 24, the annual Maverick Chamber Orchestra Concert conducted by Platt.
Maverick’s executive director Kitt Potter, who performed in Jazz at the Maverick last summer, writes: “What is Jazz but yet another true chamber music art form on the American side of the world? Alexander’s programming fuses composer-driven classical music with performer-driven jazz music. And the huge Saturday night crossover Jazz at the Maverick crowds we are welcoming every summer are really loving this.”
Before my time — I first came to Maverick in 1972 — other types of music had often been heard at the venue, also some theatrical events. So this summer’s four Jazz at the Maverick concerts, along with Saturday nights of folk music (July 6, Happy Traum & Friends “A Pete Seeger Celebration) and Indian Ragas (August 10, Barun Kumar Pal, Samir Chatterjee, and Steve Gorn), don’t represent a departure so much as a return to an earlier period of Maverick’s history.
Platt, who is unambiguously a classical musician, writes: “I’m looking forward so very much to finally being back in Woodstock, to host and enjoy some of the greatest string quartets in North America, and, on the annual Chamber Orchestra Concert, Mahler’s The Song of the Earth. But in our own way of paying tribute to the 50th anniversary of ‘Woodstock’ I’m also happy that we’ll be acknowledging to our community’s rich traditions in jazz, folk and world music this summer as well, in what’s going to truly be an amazing season of ‘Music in the Woods’ for everyone to enjoy.”
Some of the “non-classical” performers this summer are already well known to Maverick concert-goers. The opening Jazz at the Maverick, June 29, features Bill Charlap and his Trio. (Charlap promises some Gershwin in his selections.) Happy Traum (July 6) has been a frequent and popular performer at Maverick. Nilson Matta’s Brazilian Jazz Quartet (July 13) scored a great success at Maverick a couple of seasons ago (I remember a particularly exciting bass player.) Steve Gorn (August 10) is another Maverick, and Woodstock, regular, as is Karl Berger (August 31). Only the Christian Sands Trio (August 3) is new to Maverick. Sands, who is not yet 30, has already recorded four albums on his own and has appeared as a sideman on numerous other CDs. After June performances in New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, he comes to Maverick after a month in Europe, where he plays in Belgium, the U.K., Germany, Holland and France.
Lovers of string quartets will find plenty to satisfy them during Maverick’s Sunday afternoons. That series begins on June 30 with the ever-popular Shanghai Quartet, a program including music by the new director of the Bard College Conservatory, Tan Dun. The Escher String Quartet, fresh from success at Bard’s Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle in June, plays works of Haydn, Shostakovich, and Smetana on July 7. The Jasper String Quartet returns to Maverick on July 14 with music of Hugo Wolf, Beethoven, Julia Wolfe, and Shostakovich. The Catalyst Quartet makes its Maverick debut on July 21, along with pianist Daniel Gortler, who plays music of Bach and Brahms. The Quartet plays Philip Glass’s Quartet No. 3, “Mishima,” and joins Gortler for Franck’s Piano Quintet, music so erotic that it disgusted the pianist at its premiere, Camille Saint-Saëns.
The Jupiter Quartet, another returning ensemble, plays quartets by Mozart and Shostakovich on July 28, then joins pianist Michael Brown (a Maverick debut) in Brahms’s Piano Quintet. The Quatuor Daniel of Belgium makes its Maverick debut on August 4 with quartets of Beethoven, Janá_ek, and Franck. On August 11, the Harlem Quartet returns to Maverick with a somewhat more traditional program than in its past here, including quartets of Schubert and Haydn along with Three Rags by William Bolcom and Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia.” August 18, the Amernet Quartet returns with another arrangement of a Beethoven Piano Sonata for string quartet, also quartets of Shostakovich and Dvorák. The Pacifica Quartet makes a much-welcome return after several years on August 25 with music of Mendelssohn, Elliott Carter (a specialty of theirs), and Beethoven. The unbroken series of Sunday string quartets ends with the last concert of the season, Trio Solisti playing Haydn, Schubert, and Schumann on Sept. 1.
As usual, Maverick offers its Young Mavericks Festival, concerts for young listeners on Saturdays at 11 a.m. There’s no admission charge for kids; adults pay five bucks for the privilege of accompanying them. These events are New Music 4tet with Gwen Laster on June 29, Elizabeth Mitchell and Family on July 6, Frederic Chiu and David Gonzalez on July 20 (including “Peter and the Wolf”), and Christian Sands on August 3. One innovation will be a lecture on July 7, “Shostakovich and His World in the 1960s,” by Klara Moricz of Amherst College. (The time for that event is also an innovation, 7 p.m.)
All Saturday concerts take place at 8 p.m. except for the August 24 Maverick Chamber Orchestra Concert, conducted by Platt, at 6 p.m. In addition to the Mahler, arranged for chamber orchestra by Arnold Schoenberg and featuring soloists Elizabeth Bishop (soprano, not poet) and Barry Banks (tenor), both of the Metropolitan Opera, that program also includes works of Luciano Berio and Philip Glass. Sunday afternoon concerts are all at 4 p.m. “Pre-season” concerts on June 22 (7 p.m.) and June 23 (4 p.m.), feature Ars Choralis under the direction of Barbara Pickhardt in “Bach and His World,” also including works of Marc-Antoine Charpentier (a neglected genius), Monteverdi, Mondonville, Cazzati, and Gorczycki.
Tickets for all Maverick Concerts are $30 for general admission, $55 for reserved indoor seats. Books of 6 tickets are $150, 10 tickets $225. (Ticket books are good for most but not all concerts.) You can find much more information at the spiffy website, www.maverickconcerts.org.