Maverick Concert Hall
Maverick Concert Hall
Maverick Concert Hall, Summer 2006
|Location||Off Maverick Rd., Hurley, New York|
|Area||29.5 acres (11.9 ha)|
|NRHP Reference #||99001492|
|Added to NRHP||December 9, 1999|
Maverick Concerts is the oldest continuous summer chamber music festival in America. The festival was founded in 1916 by Hervey White, and Alexander Platt is the current music director. The mainstay of the series, which runs from the end of June through early September, is to be found in the chamber music concerts performed by distinguished soloists and ensembles on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Jazz and world music have been given more prominence in recent seasons, and Maverick's Saturday morning Young People’s Concerts are popular with families.
The Maverick Concert Hall
The festival is held in an historic concert hall in Hurley, New York, on the outskirts of Woodstock, in Ulster County. The barn-like, rectangular building with its gambrel roof was built in 1916 with a roof of asphalt and wood shingles and a frame of heavy timber, to which the walls—sheaths of wide planks—are nailed directly. The hall was constructed without the services of an architect and with volunteer labor, as part of the arts community known as the Maverick Colony. The wooden construction and luminous acoustics create an environment perfectly suited to the intimacy of live chamber music, and the Maverick has been listed as a multi-starred attraction on the National Register of Historic Places since 1999. The festival is a winner of the Award for Adventurous Programming, accorded jointly by Chamber Music America and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).
“Maverick” is the name given to the collaborative colony for artists that Mr. White, a “freethinker, socialist, writer, and printer with a genius for friendship,” established on the outskirts of Woodstock, on 102 acres he had bought in 1905. Mr. White’s intention was to offer “young talent a chance to earn its living until its recognition.”
From its very beginning, the young arts festival attracted eminent musicians to its rustic comforts. Violinist Pierre Henrotte, concertmaster at the time of the Metropolitan Opera, was the first director of music programming, discharging these duties annually until 1937. According to Leon Barzin, founder of the National Orchestral Association, original music director of the New York City Ballet, and an early and long-term participant and supporter of the Maverick concerts, the regular season for orchestral musicians at the time was only 32 weeks. Gently encouraged by Mr. White, first-chair symphonists and established soloists began spending their summers in Woodstock, and they, in turn, prompted other musicians to join them. And so the resident colony grew. Mr. Barzin has observed that, in the early part of the 20th century, the field of classical music was quite Eurocentric, and the Maverick festival offered an unusual opportunity for American musicians.
The Maverick festival’s opening concert was on July 23, 1916, and was the subject of an substantial article in The New York Times, under the headline “Music Goes Back to Nature.” The program consisted of Haydn's String Quartet Op. 77, No. 1, Max Bruch's Kol Nidrei for cello and piano, and Robert Schumann's piano quintet.
The charge for admission to the first concert was 25 cents, and the Maverick continues to present concerts that are affordable to the community as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. The festival is supported by ticket sales, as well as by awards from the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Park Service; the New York State Council on the Arts; the Maverick Endowment Fund; the towns of Woodstock and Hurley; local businesses; and other public and private foundations. Support also comes from the tax-deductible contributions of individual donors, who are honored each year with a special concert for the Friends of Maverick. A special area, “Rock Bottom,” is set aside for listeners who pay what they can afford.
The Maverick Horse
Mr. White visited his sister in Colorado in the 1890s. During his stay there, the legend of a wild horse known locally as the Maverick caught his fancy, and in 1911 he published his heroic narrative, The Adventures of Young Maverick, an epic ode to personal artistic freedom and the spirit of the individual.
In the summer of 1924, Mr. White commissioned John Flannagan, a gifted but penniless sculptor, to create a symbol for the colony. Flannagan, one of the first direct carvers to work in the United States, was paid the prevailing wage of fifty cents an hour. Using an ax as his only major tool, in a few days he had carved a monumental piece from the trunk of a chestnut tree. The statue depicts the horse emerging from the outstretched hands of a man, who appears in turn to be emerging from the earth. The iconic 18-foot sculpture stood, for 36 years, at the entrance of the road to the concert hall and the now-vanished theater. After the horse began to weather alarmingly, it was moved to a nearby studio until 1979, when it was moved to the stage of the Maverick Concert Hall. It stands there still.
John Cage and 4’33" at the Maverick
On August 29, 1952, the young pianist and composer David Tudor premiered at the Maverick a well-known and controversial work by the American exponent of experimental music John Cage, one of the leading post-war avant-garde composers. Arguably Cage's most famous piece, 4′33″ (which was originally scored for piano) has commonly been referred to as “four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence.” Cage demonstrated, however, that the absence of notes was not the same thing as silence. The composer’s stated intention was for the audience to listen to the “accidental” sounds around them: the birdsong, the wind in the trees, the rain on the roof, the sounds of the audience members themselves.
Musicians and Performances
The Maverick program schedule includes eminent musicians from the United States and around the world, many of whom return year after year. The string quartets that have performed at the Maverick include the American, Amernet, Borromeo, Calder, Daedalus, Ebène, Fitzwilliam, Leipzig, Miró, Parker, Rossetti, Shanghai, St. Lawrence, St. Petersburg, Tokyo, Ying, and many others.
Pianists Ruth Laredo, Frederic Chiu, Simone Dinnerstein, Joel Fan, Babette Hierholzer, Pedja Muzijevic, Jon Nakamatsu, Ursula Oppens, Navah Perlman, Andrew Russo, Mei-Ting Sun, James Tocco, and Natalie Zhu have all given concerts at Maverick. Other distinguished ensembles and soloists who have performed at Maverick include Imani Winds; Trio Con Brio; Trio Solisti; the contemporary music ensembles Antares and eighth blackbird; guitarists Frederic Hand and Jason Vieaux; cellist Zuill Bailey; violinists Tim Fain, Charles Libove, and Lara St. John; violist Samuel Quintal; and sopranos Julia Bentley, Maria Jette, and Nancy Allen Lundy.
Maverick is dedicated to the belief that chamber music encompasses more than just the classical western European canon. Other musicians to have performed at the hall include the String Trio of New York; bansuri flutist Steve Gorn; tabla players Ray Spiegel, Pandit Samir Chatterjee, and Pandit Ramesh Misra; and mandolin virtuoso Snehasish Mozumder. The jazz greats that have performed in recent years at Maverick include Perry Beekman, Karl Berger, Don Byron, Uri Caine, Bill Charlap, Marilyn Crispell, Fred Hersch, Dave Holland, Renee Rosnes, and Roswell Rudd.
The last few Maverick seasons have seen several important premieres, some of them arrangements of staples of the orchestral repertoire by Maverick’s music director Alexander Platt. These have included Final Alice by David Del Tredici, Daron Hagen’s concerto for piano left-hand and orchestra, Seven Last Words, and an arrangement of Gustav Mahler’s fourth symphony.
Many of the musicians who come to perform at the Maverick also give special Young People’s Concerts, popular events on Saturday mornings at 11:00. Indie rocker Elizabeth Mitchell, singer-songwriter Mark Rust, and percussionists Garry Kvistad and Bill Cahn have also given children’s concerts.
- National Park Service, Department of the Interior. "National Register of Historic Places". National Register of Historic Places Database. National Park Service. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- Bonafide, John. "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Maverick Concert Hall". New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Images. "Four Images of Maverick Concert Hall". Accompanying photos. New York State. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- Flanagan, Nina. "Hervey White: Brief life of a maverick impresario,1866-1944". Harvard Magazine. Harvard University. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- State University of New York at New Paltz. "Hervey White and the Maverick Art Colony". The Maverick Festival, Woodstock, 1915-1931. SUNY New Paltz. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- Barzin, Leon. "Leon Barzin Recalls the Early Years". Maverick Concerts History. Maverick Concerts, Inc. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- Craven, Wayne (1968). Sculpture in America. New York, N.Y.: Thomas Y. Crowell Co. p. 580.
- Rosenblum, Cornelia Hartmann. "The Maverick Horse". Maverick Concerts History. Maverick Concerts, Inc. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- Kostelanetz, Richard (2003). Conversing With John Cage. New York, N.Y.`: Routledge. pp. 69–70. ISBN 0-415-93792-2.