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Napa Valley’s summer chamber music series, Music in the Vineyards (MITV), returns for its 24th season—15 performances plus special events and free open rehearsals—commencing Friday, Aug. 3 and running through Sunday, Aug. 26.

On the phone from his home in Minneapolis last week, co-artistic director Michael Adams expressed his enthusiasm about the upcoming season, particularly the additions to the popular series.

New artists

While long-time favorites like the Escher and Pacifica Quartets will be returning this year, two new ensembles will be making their MITV debuts: the Miró Quartet and the Weiss-Kaplan-Stumpf Trio.

The Miró Quartet, the in-residence string ensemble at the University of Texas in Austin, has been performing for two decades.

“We’ve had our eye on getting them for years,” Adams said. “They’ve been very highly regarded in our business, and the planets just didn’t align for the longest time either with a slot open on our schedule or their availability, and finally we got them.”

The Weiss-Kaplan-Stumpf Trio (award-winning soloists pianist Yael Weiss, violinist Mark Kaplan and Cellist Peter Stumpf) has performed throughout the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. The trio is well known to American radio audiences through nationwide broadcasts on shows such as NPR’s Performance Today and WNYC’s SoundCheck.

Adams is excited about the appearance of pianist Anne-Marie McDermott. “Anne is the artistic director of the Bravo! Vail Festival,” he said, “and a huge chamber music solo presence in the New York City scene. It was really hard to get Anne to come because she’s so busy. But she had a week free and she’ll be making her debut with us.”

There will be a premier performance of five-time Grammy-winning composer Maria Schneider’s MITV commission, “Carlos Drummond de Andrade Stories.”

“The piece was originally written for a larger force,” Adams said. “It was recorded by The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, where my wife Daria is a member. Daria thought it would be perfect for a smaller ensemble and Maria was game for the idea.”

Finally, the winner of the Irving M. Klein International String Competition, 17 year-old cellist Jeremy Tai will perform. The prestigious competition, open to 15 to 23 year-olds, is held annually in San Francisco.

“We’ve been showcasing the winners for 10 years now and it has been incredibly fruitful,” Adams said. “Several of these winners have gone on to have quite big careers, so we feel really lucky to get them early before they emerge.”

New venues

Adams highlighted two first-time venues for the summer series. “We’re playing at Charles Krug,” he said. “We did a benefit there, a big fundraiser last year, but we’ll be playing in this upstairs room — I don’t even know what they call it — but it’s a fantastic space with a high vaulted ceiling that has just tremendous acoustics. So we’re really excited about doing our first formal concert at Charles Krug.”

“And we’re doing our first at the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art,” Adams added. “It was a little controversial in that we usually try to play at wineries and this year we’re playing at two non-wineries. (The other is the St. Helena Performing Arts Center) But di Rosa’s really a spectacular site. I’m really excited about how that’s going to work, and that’s where the Miró Quartet is going to be performing.”

New chairs

Adams openly acknowledged the number of audience complaints about the discomfort of the chairs over the years.

“One of the hard things about our festival is that it’s so operations intensive,” he said. “Almost every concert is in a different venue, which means that things like chairs and stands and concert platforms and lights, we have to bring them everywhere.”

“This chair issue was just bedeviling us for years because we couldn’t find some sort of feasible way to invest in them that would be better than what we could rent. We finally found something, and we’re really excited about it. We purchased—I’m not sure—probably at least 200 comfortable padded chairs. They’re going to live during the winter in a storage locker, and during the festival we’ll transport them to every venue.”

“And they won’t squeak during the performance,” he added.

See MusicInTheVineyards.org for complete artist, program, venue and ticketing details.

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David Kerns is a Napa-based freelance journalist. You can view more of his work at DavidKerns.com.

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