Two Summer Festivals Arrive, Like Birds of a Feather

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - 03:22 PM

Shirley Wu, 11, catching a glimpse of a red-tailed hawk perched above the camp ground in Central Park. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

We may be seeing the "Angry Birds" effect on summer music festival programming. On Wednesday, two of the New York region’s signature events -- the Mostly Mozart Festival and the Bard Music Festival -- announced their 2012 seasons that will feature themes built around birds and the animal kingdom.

The Mostly Mozart Festival, in its 46th year at Lincoln Center (July 28-Aug. 25), will present an exploration of the influence of birdsong and birds on classical music. There will be performances of Messiaen – including his ornithological pieces Oiseaux exotiques and Le merle noir – as well as John Cage's Telephone and Birds, from 1977, and a number of contemporary works.

There will also be bird walks in Central Park led by the New York City Audubon Society; The Murder of Crows, a multimedia installation by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, presented by the Park Avenue Armory; and a screening of the 2001 Academy Award-nominated documentary “Winged Migration.” Only absent from the announcement is Papageno's so-called "Bird catcher's Aria" from Mozart's The Magic Flute (the composer himself owned a starling as a pet, which reportedly sang along with his Piano Concerto in C Major).

Meanwhile, the Bard Music Festival, in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, will return for a 23rd season with "Saint-Saëns and His World" (August 10-12, 17-19). The festival continues its single-composer focus, with a dozen concerts, plus lectures, panels, and scholarly commentary. Among the standouts is a program that promises listeners “a radical reconsideration” of Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals. The beloved piece will be heard in its original chamber format featuring a glass harmonica. The program will also include comparable zoological pieces from Rameau, Rossini, Ibert, and Poulenc.

Will audiences come away with a greater understanding of the zoological sympathies of history’s composers? Time will tell. In the meantime, full details can be found on the Web sites of the Mostly Mozart Festival and Bard Music Festival.

What's your favorite bird-influenced piece? Leave your comments below:

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Comments [1]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

Summer music festivals, especially the al fresco, outdoor, concerts bring families together at events which are moderately if at all expensive, often are free. Many have benefitted greatly from all the institutions that have brought NYC a cultural gem of LIVE performnces of world class. I miss the Lewissohn Stadium, now torn down many years ago, where top performers, pop, folk, and opera singers and instrumentalists pop to classical, had vociferous elated audiences. Same for the Goldman Band concerts at the Band Shell. But world-wide on every continent the summer music festivals are a real treat. Nonetheless nowadays, there are many who disdain providing finances for the arts. When a country considers its culture as too expensive to support, that country reveals its lack of humanity, conscience, and practicality. Culture gives enthusiasm to development and to reaching higher in expectations and in actual achievement. Cultural activities bring in revenue wherever they prosper.
I am a Wagnerian heldentenor and the director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, where professional actors are trained for the Shakespeare roles and big-voiced singers are coached in the Wagner roles and voice production and dramaturgy techniques.
Websites:,, and where one may download, free, 37 complete "Live from Carnegie Hall" selections that I have sung in four concerts, three of them three hours-long solo concerts and one concert, a Joint Recital with the dramatic soprano Norma Jean Erdmann, in the main hall of Carnegie Hall, the Isaac Stern Auditorium, by opening up, downloading from the "Recorded Selections" venue on the home page. My next concert in New York will be on Saturday, June 9th at the YOGA EXPO at the New Yorker Hotel . The title of the concert is 'BRING HIM HOME, with that song from the musical LES MISERABLES, encouraging the return of our armed forces and inspiring hope and love of country with This Land is Your Land, The House I Live In, Climb Every Mountain, You'll Never Walk Alone, The Impossible Dream, Granada, Wien, Wien, nur du allein, When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again and 19 other selections.

Apr. 18 2012 01:50 AM

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