Constellations Chamber Concerts in Washington D.C. draws together world-class artists in intense, thought-provoking programs that engage audiences with a dynamic interweaving of music from all eras and genres. The core of our philosophy is to explore and celebrate connections in music: between genres, works, composers, generations, and the performers on stage, approaching music traditional and new with a fresh perspective. Each concert in our series will feature thematically-driven chamber music in various ensembles ranging from Pre-Baroque to world premieres by living composers, with top-flight musicians who are not afraid to step out of their “comfort zone” and push new boundaries together. Our touchstones are authentic curiosity and unashamed artistic vulnerability, seeking out the magical occurrence when the artists and audience drop their guard and experience, together, moments of pure musical joy.
Constellations will also present “Family Concerts” that will aim to educate and inspire the next generation of classical music enthusiasts. Inspired by Leonard Bernstein’s “Young People’s Concerts” with the New York Philharmonic, the Constellations Family Concerts will offer interactive musical experiences that tie in to key musical concepts, presented “with clarity and without condescension.” They will feature all the values of the main Constellations concert series, but with shorter works and engaging audience interaction throughout, taking place at venues throughout the surrounding community.
Preceding each main Constellations concert will be a round-table discussion that traces the common threads between works in each program and place them in their most insightful context through witty and educational commentary. We will aim to create a “virtuous circle” by cultivating an adventurous and ever-more-engaged audience - one that is willing to let their ears take them on unexpected musical journeys.
As students unwind after a day of intense music-making at the Yellow Barn Festival, a favorite evening ritual is to lie with friends on the lawn, gazing up at the pristine and starry sky of Putney, Vermont. Constellations, as they make their seasonal dance across the night sky, reflect our instinctive desire to seek out patterns and craft stories to explain the world around us. Just as no one star can make up a constellation, no single performer can create chamber music on his or her own. Rather, the music arises out of interactions and relationships between several players, each unique yet part of the same ever-evolving musical threads that spin themselves into a cohesive pattern. These patterns exist not just within a single work but across works, composers, and generations, each adding its own light to the artistic tapestry of music history. Just as stars ancient and young form their own cosmic ties in our shared imagination, our programming seeks to illuminate and celebrate these ties between new music and music that was once new in centuries past.
The 88 officially recognized constellations—one for each key on the modern piano—probably reveal more about the people that named them than they do about celestial cartography. What may have begun as one person’s casual observation eventually morphed into the collective imagination of intricate shapes and the myths and legends that surround them, seeking greater meaning from each individual point of light in the sky. But our connection to the stars is more fundamental than a single mythology: each of us bound together from the remnants of cosmic explosions, our bodies returning to stardust after our time here on Earth is up. Gazing up into the heavens, one cannot help but feel a special bond with our forebears who stood here so long ago, looking up at the same night sky in quiet wonder. Our mission at Constellations is to explore our musical lineage with that same reverence.
Ellen Hwangbo - Artistic Director