Gypsy Music at Skaneateles Fest

In Classical Form

The Skaneateles Festival presents a varied program of Gypsy-themed music Wednesday, Aug. 20, through Saturday, Aug. 23. The music ranges from works of Baroque composer Franz Joseph Haydn to those of contemporary composers Zoltan Kodaly and Miguel Yuste.

Despite the gap in time and style between these composers, their works are related through their incorporation of Gypsy melodies and themes.

“The thing that binds all these pieces together — romantic, baroque, contemporary — is the idea of Gypsy music and Gypsy spirit. These pieces are imagination, freedom, creativity, and emotion all wrapped up,” said David Ying, a Skaneateles festival artistic director and cellist.

Ying will perform Kodaly’s Duo for Violin and Cello, Op. 7, with acclaimed violinist and chamber musician Erin Keefe.

David Ying

David Ying

“Kodaly was very interested by folk music and very interested in it,” Keefe said. “The biggest challenge is that you only have two people playing. I think Kodaly wrote it that way to sound incredibly improvisatory, which makes the piece more difficult but also gives the musicians a lot of flexibility.”

Keefe will also perform Ravel’s Tzigane and Brahms’s Piano Quartet in G Minor.

The last movement of the Brahms quartet, a Gypsy Rondo, “is always an audience favorite,” Keefe said. “You hit the last note of the piece and the audience goes wild.”

The week’s program presents a number of unique challenges for the musicians. Kodaly, for example, is notorious for creating compositions that pose extreme technical challenges. Osvaldo Goligov’s works, one of which, Lullaby and Doina, will be performed by clarinetist Alan Kay, feature passages with difficult rhythms.

“Goligov likes to be adventurous rhythmically,” Kay said. “He asks a lot from his performer in terms of listening and being able to play difficult rhythms. You find, scattered, all different kinds of dances and tunes and so on that Gypsy and Klezmer tunes are based on.”

Ying hopes that by presenting themed programs, such as the Gypsy concerts and Hungarian-themed concerts, the Skaneateles Festival will introduce audiences to the diversity of the classical repertoire.

“People think of classical music as being just one thing, but there’s so much more to it than that,” Ying said.

There will be an open rehearsal on Wednesday, Aug. 20, at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, where audiences can hear the musicians preparing for the chamber performances on Thursday and Friday.

Ticket prices are $22 to $28. Season passes and package deals are also available.  For information, visit

Skaneateles Festival Week 3 Schedule

Wednesday Aug. 20
When: 11 a.m.
Where: First Presbyterian Church, 97 E. Genesee St.
Program: Workshop for Music Students. Registration required. Musicians: Elinor Freer, piano; Mimi Hwang, cello; Alan Kay, clarinet; Erin Keefe, violin.

When: 2 p.m.
Where: First Presbyterian Church, 97 E. Genesee St.
Program: Open Rehearsal.

Thursday, Aug. 21
When: 8 p.m.
Where: First Presbyterian Church, 97 E. Genesee St.
Program: Gypsy Passion. Musicians: Joanna Bassett, flute; Edward Castilano, bass; Ran Dank, piano; Bella Hristova, violin; David Ying, cello; Phillip Ying, viola; Freer, piano; Hwang, cello; Kay, clarinet; Keefe, violin.
Haydn: Trio in G major, Hob.XV:25, Gypsy 
Miguel Yuste: Vibraciones de Alma (Vibrations of the Soul) for Clarinet and Piano 
Golijov: Lullaby and Doina 
Kodály: Duo for Violin and Cello, Op. 7

Friday, Aug. 22
When: 7 p.m.
Where: First Presbyterian Church, 97 E. Genesee St.
Program: Prelude Concert with 2014 Robinson Award Winner (open only to ticket holders).

When: 8 p.m.
Where: First Presbyterian Church, 97 E. Genesee St.
Program: Hungarian Rhapsody. Musicians: Bassett, flute; Dank and Freer, piano; Hristova and Keefe, violin; Hwang and David Ying, cello; Phillip Ying, viola
Telemann: _Gypsy_ Sonata à 3 in D minor for Flute, Violin, and Continuo 
Ravel: Tzigane 
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13, in A minor (for solo piano) 
Brahms: Piano Quartet in G minor

Saturday, Aug. 23
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Brook Farm, 2870 West Lake Road, 2.5 miles south of Skaneateles (rain location is Skaneateles High School, 49 E. Elizabeth St.)
Program: Gypsy Nights at Brook Farm. Violinist Bella Hristova and conductor Robert Moody are featured. Musicians: Eastman Chamber Players.
Mozart: Overture from The Abduction from the Seraglio 
Bartók: Romanian Folk Dances 
Dvorák: Romance 
Saint-Saëns: Havanaise 
Turina: La Oración del Torero (The Bullfighter’_s Prayer) 
Dvorak: Czech Suite


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