Chamber music ensemble debuts new “Classical at the Cabot” series
The Cabot Theatre in Beverly, which first opened in 1920 as a dream palace of vaudeville and silent movies, will host Virtuoso Soloists of New York (VSNY), a group of young musicians whose shared dream is to commission, perform and record classical music on the international stage. Although each of the seven members brings unique cultural and life experience to the mix, their shared passion for musical exploration and excellence has created one of today’s most exhilarating and vibrant classical music ensembles.
The Sunday, February 19 “Classical at the Cabot” concert starts at 3 p.m. and features a program that includes Sergei Rachmaninov: Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor; John H. Wallace: Triskele (A Trio for Viola, Oboe and Piano four-hand); Anton Dvorak: Terzetto in C major, Op. 74; and Robert Schumann: Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44.
Yoni Avi Battat, a core member of VSNY, is enthusiastic about the selection for VSNY’s first concert at the Cabot. “We will play a lyrical and stormy contemporary piece by Salem local, John H. Wallace, which has an interesting orchestration of oboe, viola and four hands piano. Dr. Wallace is the composer-in-residence for the Classical at the Cabot concert series, and is on the music faculty at Boston University,” he said.
The pieces range from the “innocent and charming” to the “robust and iconic”. “We chose these pieces around the theme of Romance, offering a satisfying and indulgent outing for the Sunday after Valentine’s Day,” he said.
Founded in New York City in 2014 by Italian pianist Edoardo Carpendao and Portuguese pianist Inês Andrade, VSNY’s members hail from all over the globe. Violinist Micah Brightwell is a native of New Zealand, cellist Gracie Keith and oboist Courtney Miller are American, and clarinetist Samuel Brandão Marques was born in Portugal.
Over the course of its two-year existence, VSNY has performed extensively across the United States and abroad. During the 2015 summer, the ensemble completed a two-week tour of Northern Italy, including a residency at the Udine National Conservatory. This tour realized the group’s collaboration with Italian composer Mario Pagotto, who dedicated a newly composed piece to the group.
Each performer is a recognized solo virtuoso, and their combined expertise, enthusiasm and musical flair attracts new audiences by crafting unique programs that highlight the connection between well-known classics and newly commissioned pieces.
A Boston-based performer and teacher, Battat plays viola and violin in a variety of different styles. With strong roots in classical music, he has played across the United States and abroad with a number of professional orchestras and chamber ensembles. An advocate of contemporary music, Battat works regularly with living composers of all ages to workshop, premiere and record new works.
He started playing violin at age four and picked up the viola at age 14 “because the one violist in my school’s orchestra was not available for our concert”. After playing just a few notes on the rich, low register of the instrument, he quickly realized that it would be far more than a temporary gig. “I felt that I had discovered my true voice as a musician. I especially liked that I could contribute so much as a supporting voice without being in the spotlight, that viola is a collaborative instrument by nature of its register and its role in chamber music.”
In addition to his work in classical music with VSNY, Battat also improvises in a number of other musical traditions, from jazz and folk to middle-eastern, salsa, and klezmer. Through his work in these styles, Battat says he aims to increase global awareness and celebrate cultural diversity through music.
Although Battat has performed klezmer music in a synagogue and Mario Pagotto’s music at the Udine Conservatory in Italy where the composer teaches, he is equally moved by the upcoming concert in Beverly.
“There is something equally special about bringing music to places it hasn’t belonged in the past. This concert season at the Cabot is the first classical music series ever in that beautiful and historic venue, so I’m excited to bring fresh music to audiences there as well,” he said.