It may be autumn, but the Rites of Spring Music Festival springs eternal when it returns to the Custer Institute Observatory in Southold on Sept. 5 for a live performance under the stars.

The 7 p.m. concert, titled “Counterpoint,” presents a range of pieces for solo cello and electronics. 

Each piece places the cello in conversation with an altered version of itself, with each work approaching the dialogue between the live instrument and technology, via transformation, replication, repetition, and amplification. 

The soloist variously interacts with expanded, manipulated cello sounds, followed by samples, or accompanied by an ensemble of pre-recorded cellos. With the exception of the Bach prelude, the works on this concert were all written after 2003.

The Music Program includes works by Andy Akiho, Chris Cerrone, J.S. Bach and Steve Reich.

Cellist Mariel Roberts is widely recognized not just for her virtuostic performances, but as a”fearless explorer” in her field (Chicago Reader). 

Her ravenous appetite for collaboration and experimentation as an interpreter, improviser, and composer have helped create a body of work which bridges avant-garde, contemporary, classical, improvised, and traditional music. Roberts is widely recognized for her “technical and interpretive mastery” (I Care If You Listen: New Classical News) and for performances of “excruciating intensity” (The Whole Note).

Roberts has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician across four continents, most notably as a member and co-director of the Wet Ink Ensemble (named “The Best Classical Music Ensemble of 2018” by The New York Times), as well as with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Mivos Quartet, Bang on a Can All Stars, and Ensemble Signal. 

She performs regularly on major stages for new music such as the Lincoln Center Festival, Wien Modern (Austria), Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), Cervantino Festival (Mexico), Klang Festival (Denmark), Shanghai New Music Week (China), Darmstadt Internationalen Ferienkurse für Neue Musik (Germany), and Aldeburgh Music Festival (UK). 

She has alsoreleased two solo albums of new works commissioned for her. The first, “Nonextraneous Sounds” (2012), was noted for its “technical flair and exquisite sensitivity” (Composers Forum).  2017’s “Cartography” (2017), solidified Roberts’ position as “one of the most adventurous figures on New York’s new music scene—one with a thorough grounding in classical tradition but a ravenous appetite for and tireless discipline in new work.” (Bandcamp). 

Her collaborators have spanned a wide range of genres and include some of the most important figures on the contemporary and experimental scene, such as George Lewis, Alex Mincek, Tim Hecker, Nate Wooley, M. Lamar, Patrick Higgins (Zs), Ingrid Laubrock, Jeffrey Mumford, Sam Pluta, Eric Wubbels, and Ambrose Akinmusire.

Stargazing (weather permitting) through Custer Observatory’s telescopes and guided by expert staff will follow the concert.

Tickets to “Counterpoint”are $35 for adults and $30 for Observatory and Festival Members. Children under 16 are free. Virtual attendance via Zoom is $25. Tickets are available online here. Attendance will be limited to 50 people due to Covid-19 and face masks and social distancing will be required. Please bring your own blanket or chair to enjoy the show. 

A rain date is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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