American minister H.E. Luccock said, “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it.”
For those who love the symphony, September certainly brings something to celebrate. After a successful pilot launch last year, The Hamptons Festival of Music (TH•FM) returns this Sunday, September 3, to LTV Studios in Wainscott, bringing live classical music to the masses that’s typically hard to find on the South Fork.
Led by maestro and artistic director Michael Palmer, the festival boasts a 41-person resident symphony orchestra, dubbed the New American Sinfonietta, whose internationally recognized members hail from major cities all over the continent, and beyond.
“Now in our second year, the players truly come from all over,” Palmer says.
It was after Palmer and his partner, TH•FM executive director Michael Yip, purchased their home in Springs in 2017, that he first became aware of the “wonderful artists that were here,” he says. Originating from Indiana and with nearly six decades of orchestral conductor experience under his baton, the veteran maestro quickly noticed how live classical music on the East End was strictly limited to chamber music, noting “there wasn’t a place to put an orchestra.” Yip, Palmer’s partner in both life and art, lived in New York City prior and had visited the Hamptons several times.
The need was clearly visible.
With the intent to establish a firm place for the orchestral community on the East End, the pair successfully launched the inaugural season of TH•FM last year. The recently retired Palmer drew from his long list of former projects and initiatives, particularly his nearly 30 years with the Bellingham Festival of Music (the premier orchestral music festival in the Pacific Northwest that he founded and maintained with great success) as well as he and Yip’s non-profit organization Anacrusis Productions, which builds support for future artists and lovers of classical music. With the help of a super-qualified creative team, which includes LTV associate producer and Guild Hall’s former artistic director Josh Gladstone, they were able to beef-up TH•FM, with the ultimate goal to “specifically serve the local, year-round residents in East Hampton and the surrounding hamlets and villages,” says a press release for the festival.
Slated for three concert performances in total (September 3, 8 and 10), each one will include Palmer’s interpretations of some of music’s most timeless classical masterpieces. All three concerts will be inside studio 3 at the Wainscott locale, which can hold an audience of up to about 150 people. “It’s an acoustically wonderful space,” Palmer says, “and it’s quite special because it’s a very intimate experience.”
Sunday’s performance starts at 4 p.m. and will include works from Joseph Haydn, Richard Wagner and Felix Mendelssohn. Highlights will include the world premiere of contemporary composer David Leisner’s concerto “Wayfaring,” featuring classical guitar soloist Pepe Romero. Next Friday, September 8, at 8 p.m. guests can expect to hear orchestral suites from George Bizet as well as late American composer and conductor Aaron Copland. The concert closes with Mozart’s last symphony “Symphony No. 41 (Jupiter).” The festival concludes with a 4 p.m. performance on Sunday, September 10, opening with Czech composer Antonín Dvorák’s “Serenade for Winds” and finishing with Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 3 ‘Eroica.’”
The orchestra will go through four rehearsals for each concert. Other preparations for this year’s series included two East Hampton events last month as well as a musical cocktail party at the LongHouse Reserve earlier this year.
“The level they’re playing at is remarkable,” Palmer says of his New American Sinfonietta. “And the three big symphonies we’re including as part of the repertoire, they’ve changed the face of orchestra music forever because they’re about the human condition. I’m thrilled.”
Tickets to each concert is $150, or $400 for the entire series.
LTV is located at 75 Industrial Rd. in Wainscott, 631-537-2777.