Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival returns with 13 concerts

2016 Brochure CoverCAPE COD – Elaine Lipton likes things just the way they are.

“It’s a little gem,” says the executive director of the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival. “I don’t know that I’d like to see any huge changes. I might like to focus on the music instead of the parking sometimes, and we’ve got to find ways to develop younger audiences. But mostly this festival is pretty wonderful.”

CCCMF’s 10th season with Lipton as director begins Friday, July 29, in Wellfleet, with musicians from the Curtis Institute kicking off four weeks of music – as well as performing the regional premiere of composer Jonathan Bailey Holland’s String Quartet, commissioned by the festival, inspired by the Cape Cod National Seashore, to mark both the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The festival, now in its 37th season, presents concerts from Provincetown to Cotuit. Before it concludes on Aug. 26, the Emerson, Borromeo, Harlem and Escher quartets will all visit the Cape, along with instrumentalists like cellists Amit Peled and Bion Tsang, and pianist Brian Zeger. Co-artistic directors Jon Nakamatsu and Jon Manasse will return to perform and are also marking their 10th anniversary as leaders.

“All three of us started at the same time,” Lipton says. “They hired us separately – we didn’t know each other, and I think that was a daring thing for the organization to do. We had a new board president that year too.”

The festival has not really changed so much in the past 10 years – except for some notable stability. “It was not a year-round organization,” Lipton says. “And we both increased and decreased our geographic spread. We used to be the Cape and Islands festival, but now we limit it to the Cape. They have their own festivals on the islands.

“Now we have an office on the Cape, and we’ve changed a lot of the structure. But most importantly, our audience has grown. The year-round population on the Cape is larger, and there are more people who are still interested in the amenities of life in the city. It’s an interesting dynamic.”

The audiences are different from venue to venue as well. “It’s summertime, and people don’t want to drive when they’re here,” Lipton says. “The Cotuit audience is different than the Wellfleet audience. It’s a different kind of audience too — I think there are more younger people in Cotuit, and while we might focus on more traditional music in some places, in Cotuit we can focus on newer things.

“In general, though, I think we could continue things for another five years the way we have been,” she says. “We do have to focus on growing the audience without dumbing down what we do. I think it’s a great credit to Jon and Jon that they are open to bringing in younger players – it’s fun to watch these ensembles.

“We had the Huffington Post list us as one of the great festivals to travel to in the summer this year,” she notes. “I think that’s a great coup for us. It is a terrific festival.”

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By Keith Powers, contributing writer