The Violin Channel recently sat down with Vadim Gluzman, Artistic of the North Shore Chamber Music Festival.
Tell us about the North Shore Chamber Music Festival. When was it founded and what is its core mission?
"The North Shore Chamber Music Festival was founded exactly 10 years ago. Our tenth anniversary was canceled due to the pandemic. It was originally planned as a festival 'by friends for friends.'
I have been performing in festivals for years, and even if you don’t think about it consciously, you get to know what you like and don't like about how festivals are run.
Years ago, we drove by a church that is three minutes away from our home in Illinois. We stopped to go in and met the music director at that time. The church was spectacular. It looked like it had been built especially for musical performances. Months later we had our first concert, and the festival grew from there."
Can you tell us more about the programming and artists who will be performing this year?
"This year's program will include 6 concerts. The first two will take place on September 10th and 11th.
We are bringing three of our favorite artists, who are well known by our audiences: clarinetist Ilya Shterenberg, pianist William Wolfram, and cellist Mark Kosower.
For the first concert, we decided to celebrate our own heritage by playing Jewish and Israeli composers. It’s called Jewish Kaleidoscope.
The second concert is a celebration of love, with music by Clara and Robert Schumann, and Brahms. We will play Robert Schumann’s Three Fantasies, Clara’s Romances, and the Brahms piano trio.
On October 17th, my very good friend Philippe Quint will present his multimedia show entitled Charlie Chaplin's Smile. The production is absolutely gorgeous and fascinating to me. It’s fascinating to think that besides being one of the greatest actors and filmmakers of all time, Charlie Chaplin was a composer influenced by the likes of Rachmaninov and Mahler."
What events are you most looking forward to at this year’s festival?
"Our first concert is especially important to me because we will show the jewish culture to people who might not have been exposed to it. The concert will present pieces by Darius Milhaud, George Gershwin, Ernest Bloch, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and Lera Auerbach.
We also commissioned a new piece by a fantastic composer, Avner Dorman. He wrote a piece for us called ‘Dancing at Mount Meron.’ It’s based on a beautiful painting by Reuven Rubin and rooted in the Jewish dance tradition. It’s a wonderful piece for violin, piano, cello, and clarinet that will be premiered at the end of the concert.
Where can we see the concerts and performances?
"You can see the concerts in person and online.
In person, we will make sure that everyone will be safe and that all the regulations will be observed. Masks and hand sanitizer will be provided.
Online, the concerts will be available on our site for $20 for 48h, to give people around the world the opportunity to watch the concerts."
How have you pivoted and adapted this year to the unprecedented difficulties of the COVID pandemic?
"I have to say that the first idea to livestream concerts was actually inspired by you guys. You turned to people for living room concerts very shortly after everything locked down. We discovered that it’s possible to do something with good quality using a professional setup.
The main initiative in live-streaming was to support our artists. That is the cornerstone of everything we do.
We already hosted two in-person concerts. Talking to audiences made me realize that they craved these kind of events. They were very excited and thankful to be there. The in-person experience is not something that we can take for granted .
Another aspect we are constantly working on is our scholarship program. We have given scholarships to over 50 kids. We also provide any kind of support they may need, whether it be simple advice, career advice, or performance opportunities.
Lastly, we run a program called "Stars of Tomorrow." Our scholarship recipients are featured in our season. I feel it's important to continue to give opportunities to young musicians."
What new possibilities have you seen emerge for the classical music industry from those challenging times?
"Hopefully, we will come out of this soon.
Interviews like this one and the technology used to do it, will be something that will stay past these challenging times.
Remote content creation can advantage everyone, from musicians to organizations to audiences. We can truly build a global reach with this technology.
Of course, many things need to be worked on but there's no limit for improvement. This pandemic shows us how advanced we are technologically, and how much we have at our disposal that we might have previously ignored.
I spent the summer giving lessons to students all around the world at festivals I would have been teaching at in-person, and it worked well!
For performing organizations, we can reach a truly global audience. If we do, if we prepare, if we plan things correctly, I think there is really no limit. We are taking our art to a completely new level. This is something we couldn’t dream of. We are one of the few organizations who had the guts to say 'no, we will perform and we will create.'
It took a large amount of preparation, but every concert is sold out.When there is a will, there is a way. Not everyone is willing to go the extra mile.
We can do so much more, though. My personal lesson coming from this situation is that we can continue to be better."