- Heather Wittels, violin
Chamber Music at Hyde Hall
During the summers I am the associate concertmaster of the Glimmerglass Opera Festival Orchestra in upstate New York. This year's busy roster comprised The Magic Flute, Macbeth, Candide, and Vivaldi's Cato in Utica. We also find time to give chamber music concerts in various venues. Each year I organize and present a concert at Hyde Hall, a historical house museum. This year the performers included orchestra members, young artist singers from the Glimmerglass Festival, staff pianists, and a music intern.
Historic Hyde Hall was a built as a private residence in the early 1800’s by one of the richest families in America. Over the last fifty years it has been transformed into a museum and attained the status of National Historic Landmark. We perform in the drawing room, once the afternoon domain of the ladies of the house, which has east-facing windows with views of Lake Otsego. The Glimmerglass Opera House sits above the same lake only a few miles away.
Last year's concert was a Schubertiade - all works of Franz Schubert - featuring songs, a violin sonata, and an actor reading translations of Schubert’s personal letters. This year I created a program of works from the era of World War I (1914-1919) that included music from four countries - France, Spain, Great Britain and the US. Selections included a song by American composer Amy Beach, George Butterworth's song cycle on poems by A. E. Housman, and I closed the show with the Debussy violin sonata. We've had a completely sold-out house two years in a row, and we love performing in this uncommonly beautiful building to a warm and enthuastic local audience. Few chamber music concerts are performed in this area of upstate New York, especially in the winter, and I'm proud of creating this opportunity for a few Glimmerglass artists to share our passion for chamber music with the local community. I'm already thinking about what to present there next year!