By Emily J Weitz
The Perlman Music Program has been devoted to bringing chamber music to the Hamptons in an instructional manner since 1993, when Toby Perlman and her husband, legendary violinist Itzhak, first started a summer camp in East Hampton.
This year, they will perform every Friday and Saturday night of the summer in locations from East Hampton to Southampton, with master classes and performances at their newly renovated Shelter Island campus as well.
“There so many aspects of chamber music that benefit young artists educationally,” says Merry Peckham who directs of the chamber music workshop. “First and foremost, the repertoire itself represents some of the most profound, innovative and personal compositions by most of the greatest and most prolific composers.”
“The opportunity to delve into a musical masterpiece as part of an intimate ensemble allows for copious learning and interpretive possibilities about each composer’s musical language, especially in regards to interpretive style,” she adds.
For the next two weeks, string musicians from all over the world will be on-campus in Shelter Island working on their craft. Cellists, violinists and violists focus on playing together in a performance setting. Itzhak Perlman is one of the faculty members who guides the master classes, which are free and open to the public.
“Each faculty will coach between two and three music groups in an evening,” says Emma Leinhaas, production coordinator at the Perlman Music Program. “Each group gets 30 or 40 minutes. They play through a movement, then get a critique, then they play through it again.”
Musicians applied for this unique opportunity months ago and the selection process is rigorous.
“The Perlmans will sit down and watch every single video,” says Leinhaas.
Leinhaas notes one of the most exciting things happening for the program this year is the use of the brand new facility on Shelter Island.
“I can’t quite put into words how incredible this new facility is for us,” says Leinhaas. “There’s a recital hall which has wonderful acoustics and seats 120 people, there’s a huge amount of rehearsal space, and quite a bit of living space as well.”
The facility was built in the winter of 2011-2012, but this year is the first time workshops will be held there. Having a top-notch performance space, notes Peckham, and the opportunity to perform for a live audience, is integral to chamber music.
“The public activities afford us the opportunity to make performance part of our educational process,” says Peckham. “Although the private coaching and rehearsal process is also invaluable, the moment we present our music to an audience we express our musical ideas in an intense and emotionally charged way… [It also] enlightens us as to what we might need to change or work out in order to bring across what is important musically in a more obvious manner.”
The Perlman Music Program is a musical immersion that allows participants to share a deep love of this hundreds-of-years-old art form.
“It’s two weeks of musical bliss and personal joy,” says Peckham. “The feeling of community and the friendships that are developed are lifelong. The music is all of our passion and we all know it.”
After these two weeks, Perlman Music Program will continue to offer performances throughout the summer. While the master classes will end, the opportunity to share in the love of chamber music will only be just beginning. There will be performances of works-in-progress, faculty performances, and special guests including alumni of the program. There will be events for kids, like a musical instrument petting zoo, which offers the opportunity for young children to get familiar with instruments. On August 2, the Perlman Music Program will host a benefit concert and dinner at their new Shelter Island facility.
“The audiences that witness the amazing performances feel the joy, wonder and power of the profound music,” says Peckham, “as well as the incredible bountiful musical conversations. It is intoxicating and is a musical microcosm of the human condition.”
This Friday at 7 p.m., the Perlman Music Program presents “Classical Collaborations at Southampton Cultural Center, 25 Pond Lane, Southampton.
At 8 p.m., this Saturday, June 8, the program presents “Classical Collaborations: A Tenth Anniversary Celebration at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons (44 Woods Lane, East Hampton). For both concerts, classical music students will join Paul Katz, Merry Peckham, Itzhak Perlman, Roger Tapping, Don Weilerstein and Vivian Hornik Weilerstein to perform in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of The Chamber Music Workshop. A reception with the artists will follow both concerts.
For more information, call (212) 877-5045. For a full schedule of events or more information on the Perlman Music Program, check out www.perlmanmusicprogram.org.