Paolo Bartolani Creates the ‘Rites of Spring’ Music Festival for the North Fork

Paolo landscape

Q: What is the Rites of Spring Music Festival?

A: This project creates a strong relationship between the natural environment, history and music. The festival features four site specific events. Each is not just a music concert in a venue; each venue has inspired the concert itself—a musical art installation.

The concerts include both classical works and contemporary pieces by living composers. While in future years, we may commission brand new pieces, this year the composer Cliff Baldwin created a custom adaptation of one of his works to make it fit its performance venue, the Custer Observatory.

I see this as a project for the community; it’s not for an exclusive audience the way classical concerts can be. One way we are sending this message is by making the opening concert at Brecknock Hall free. The other concerts have tickets, but that’s normal. We have a strong partnership with the institutions who have offered their venues; their generosity (and Barclays International’s) is why we can make these concerts so accessible. Another way the community focus is reflected is our partnerships for each event with local businesses like the North Fork Chocolate Company, Mattebella Vineyards, Fork & Anchor and others.

Q: Tell me about one of the events.

A: Sure. I am particularly excited about the event on June 4th, the Music & Historic House Tour, because three historical societies collaborating for the first time—Southold, Oysterponds and Sterling—are each opening their beautiful properties for tours paired with classical music.

BookletFrom 11 am – 5 pm there will four different historic houses open and a music performance by the Arcanum String Quartet in each, all timed so people can enjoy the concerts and buildings in sequence. This event also involves an education component; Greenport and Southold High Schools will be filming and making a documentary of it. Next year we hope to expand this educational component. Greenport and Southold Superintendent David Gamberg is excited about the project.

Q: That sounds very cool and multidimensional. Are all the projects multidimensional?

A: Yes. The Italian Opera Night on June 11th is properly titled: “Opera and Sensory Perception: A Powerful Immersive Experience.” It involves Italian arias sung by internationally successful Italian soprano Masha Carrera, and a tasting of eight different Italian food dishes by Caci North Fork Restaurant thoughtfully paired with wines by host Laurel Lake Vineyards.Booklet

Participants are immersed in Italian culture from so many sensory angles.

Q: You mentioned  that one of the concerts is at Custer Observatory. What is that concert like?

A: This concert will be outdoors, and will reflect the astronomy focus of the site because the composition involves sounds from the stars. Specifically the music is based on observations of the Kepler Space Telescope. Its contemporary nature is reflected also in the instrumentation, which is a combination of live performance and electronic music with a sound system.

BookletAs I mentioned, Cliff Baldwin adapted his composition specifically for this event, so it will be a debut performance. This concert will be on May 21st, the weekend before Memorial Day Weekend.

Q: You mentioned a concert at Brecknock Hall. When and what is that performance?

A: The opening concert, on April 23, takes place in one of the most beautiful buildings on the North Fork, Brecknock Hall. It is a solo piano concert (I am performing) and we are bringing in a handmade Shigeru Kawai Grand Piano courtesy of Frank & Camille’s —a top of the line instrument—so the music will be as beautiful as the setting.Booklet

This program puts together three of the most influential composers of western music, Beethoven, Cage, and Debussy. Though these composers are sharply different aesthetically, they all drew inspiration from the idea of nature as the custodian of beauty.

Q: Where can people find more details and get tickets?

A: The event’s website is RitesMusic.Org.

Q: What is your background that you are creating this festival for the North Fork?

A: In the last 20 years I worked as artistic project manager for several European institutions. I coordinated international cooperation projects in the performing arts. In particular I coordinated the network called ENPARTS (European Network of Performing Arts). It was a multi-annual cooperation project with seven European festivals led by Venice Biennal to promote contemporary works in music, dance and theater and support the young generation of artists.

Even though I live on the North Fork now, I still work with the Italian institutions Santa Cecilia Music Academy and the Bologna Opera House as artistic project manager in international relations.

The model of the Rites of Spring Music Fest is quite similar to these international projects, because the idea is again to connect different institutions like vineyards, historical societies, schools, to promote music and culture and enhance the area.

In the future I would like to create more relationships with more institutions, or to invite more international performers, to build relationships with festivals elsewhere.

Q: You live on the North Fork now, but you’re thoroughly Italian. How did you come to the North Fork?

A: I grew up in Rome, and I lived much of the last 20 years there; my musical education was at Santa Cecilia Music Conservatory in Rome followed by the Ecole Normale de Musique and IRCAM in Paris.

I came to Southold because the last 10 years we visited my wife’s grandfather, George McAdams here. He lived here for 40 years, until he died a few years ago at 105 years old. We would vacation here with him a month each summer. Now we live here as our primary residence, my two kids go to the local school. My wife, Marina deConciliis, is working as an architect in Sag Harbor.

We decided two years ago to live here full time; we think this is a good place to raise our children.

To see Paolo Bartolani, perform a George Cork Maul piece at the Redeemer Episcopal Church in Mattituck, click here.   

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