The Newburyport Chamber Music Festival fosters an interactive partnership between residents and visiting artists by engaging the community in the process of creating and presenting chamber music in Newburyport’s unique architectural spaces.
I have a friend who is a pastry chef. She takes flour, water, sugar, and a whole lot of butter, and from these simple ingredients conjures up magnificent desserts. Come to an open rehearsal and you'll see what goes into transforming little black marks on a page into a work of art. The process may seem unremarkable for its attention to things technical - working out dynamics, ensemble, intonation, articulation - yet somewhere along the way something precious and fleeting is created: real music.
People wonder sometimes what musicians do during the day. There is a romantic notion of the solitary artist in some dusty loft full of scurrying rats and bat guano. The fact is that we do laundry, pay bills, and answer emails like everyone else. In addition to all that banality we also spend hours every day bringing the music of Beethoven, Brahms, and Bartok to life.
Why go to a concert when you can listen to music at home while doing the dishes? There's the obvious stuff: live sound, live performers, no distractions and the joy of a shared experience. But add to that the fact that it is an in-the-moment experience. That's why you can be overwhelmed at a concert one night but listen to a recording of the same concert weeks later and wonder why you can't hear what you heard the first time. Music doesn't even exist until you perform it. A concert is something made fresh in front of you: electric, live, and raw.
Founded in 2002 by Artistic Director David Yang and Newburyport resident Jane Niebling, this August weeklong series of classical chamber music events has grown from three musicians and three concerts to, this summer, twelve artists, thirteen events and six venues. Originally sponsored by St. Paul’s Church in Newburyport the Festival now functions as an independent not-for-profit organization.
Our first venue was the 1863 granite Neo-Gothic St. Anna’s Chapel on the campus of St. Paul’s church. With no stage and with seating in the round the 90-seat chapel provides the degree of intimacy for which chamber music was originally intended. Since then we have added the larger St. Paul’s Church as our principal venue, and we continue to take advantage of an eclectic collection of spaces, both public and private, indoors and out, historic and modern, which are available in the greater Newburport community.
St. Anna's Chapel
Commissioned and donated in 1863 by the Rev. William Horton, the chapel was designed by architect Rufus Sargent in the High Gothic Style, and built of Rockport granite. In 2014 the chapel was awarded recognition by the Newburyport Preservation Trust for both exterior and interior historic restoration.
St. Paul’s Church
Founded in 1711, St. Paul’s is the oldest continuing Episcopal parish in Massachusetts. This Rockport granite structure was built in 1922 after a similar wooden structure burned.
The Custom House Maritime Museum
Designed by Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument, the all-granite Custom House was built in 1835.
St. John's Episcopal Church, Portsmouth, NH
Listed in the Registry of Historic Sites, this brick church was built in 1807 to replace a 1732 wooden structure (then called Queen's Chapel) which was destroyed in the great Portsmouth fire of 1806. 101 Chapel Street, Portsmouth, NH
The Carriage House
This 1850 carriage house with hung barn construction was rescued from a condo construction by its current owners and redesigned with the aid of Andrew Sidford Architects. Sympathetic acoustics for chamber music was one of the primary design goals of the project.
The Newburyport Public Library
The Nathaniel Tracy Mansion, built in 1777, was purchased by eight citizens and given to the city for its library in 1865. Renovated and expanded in 2001, the Library has lent its spaces to NCMF since 2002.