The Ulysses Quartet (pictured above) joins Paolo Bartolani for the opening concert of this year’s Rites of Spring Music Festival, “The Beatitudes,” at RG|NY Vineyards May 12.


The North Fork’s Rites of Spring Music Festival, now in its ninth season, is this year presenting a series that pairs music from cultures around the world.

The series, this year dubbed “Unexpected Correspondences,” is about “how classical music is connecting with all the cultures,” said the festival’s founder, Paolo Bartolani.

This year’s concert pairs classical music with masters of traditional instruments like the Korean gayageum; the bandoneon, a concertina popular in South America; medieval harp and a Fourth of July concert on the Cutchogue Village Green with the Mudflats string band.

“We are looking at how we can present the long tradition of classical music in a way that’s appealing for all ages and cultural backgrounds,” said Mr. Bartolani, a concert pianist who is originally from Rome and still serves as the Artist Projects Manager for the National Orchestra of Santa Cecilia there. “This is about how classical music could still be relevant in this changing society. The traditional ritual of a culture — performances on stage, with the audience sitting for two hours listening, is over forever. We need, more and more, a different form that’s more interactive and informal, while maintaining a high standard and quality of music.”

The season-opening concert, on Sunday, May 12 at 5 p.m. at RG|NY Vineyard in Riverhead, is called “The Beatitudes.”

It’s a program for piano and string quartet that opens with a challenging piece by Shostakovich. 

“Shostakovich wrote the piece during Stalin in Russia, and during these years, we are still in the same situation,” said Mr. Bartolani. “the idea is to make it like a journey from the terrible human condition and how to get to the Beatitudes,” the biblical place where we are all children in God’s garden. Another Russian composer, Vladimir Martynov, shows the way. 

Doyeon Kim will perform the gayageum in “Amusing the Strings” at Poquatuck Hall on May 25.

On May 25 at Poquatuck Hall in Orient, the festival presents “Amusing the Strings,” with two musicians, a traditional gayageum player and a violin player, “presenting Korean music, improvisations and classical music.”

“It’s really a dialogue between western and eastern music,” said Mr. Bartolani.

The festival continues through September, with programs including “New Music Under the Big Sky” on June 1 at Custer Observatory in Southold, a medieval concert set amongst the outdoor ‘rooms’ of the Landcraft Garden Foundation in Mattituck on July 13, and a program of Latin American composers, with musicians amongst the crowd at McCall Vineyard in Cutchogue on Aug. 25. 

“Each concert is quite unique,” said Mr. Bartolani.

More details, and the full schedule of events, are at ritesmusic.org.  


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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 editor@eastendbeacon.com

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