Norfolk Chamber Music Festival

Norfolk, CT 06058

860-542-3000

The Yale Summer School of Music at Norfolk opened its doors in 1941 with a mission to present chamber music of the highest caliber to the widest possible audience and to provide advanced professional development for emerging career musicians. The Festival owes its origins to Ellen Battell Stoeckel, a philanthropic music lover who made it her life's work to bring the best of the fine arts to rural Connecticut.

Music in Norfolk has a long and vibrant history, dating back to 1899 when Ellen Battell and her husband Carl Stoeckel, son of the Yale School of Music's first professor, founded the Litchfield County Choral Union. They began hosting chamber music concerts as well as choral concerts in their 35-room mansion, "Whitehouse." This was the beginning of a festival that was immediately considered one of the country's most prestigious. As audiences grew for these concerts, the Stoeckels found it necessary to build a hall worthy of the caliber of musicians who played there and commissioned E.K. Rossiter, a New York architect, to design the "Music Shed." This hall was dedicated in 1906 and retains all of its original glory and stunning acoustics, remaining essentially unchanged since its stage was graced by such renowned musicians as Fritz Kreisler, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Jean Sibelius. Upon her death in 1939, Ellen Battell Stoeckel left her estate in a private trust to fund a summer music school with programs in art and literature through Yale University, ensuring an enduring legacy of artistic excellence. In 1960, by agreement between the Trust and the University, literature was removed from the program and the entity became known as the Yale Summer School of Music and Art, with separate Music and Art divisions.

Now in its 64th season, the Yale Summer School of Music/ Norfolk Chamber Music Festival has a dual teaching/performance purpose. Audiences from throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York come to Northwest Connecticut to hear world-class artists, such as the seven-time Grammy nominee Tokyo String Quartet, which has been in residence since 1976. Claude Frank, David Shifrin, William Purvis, Frank Morelli and Boris Berman among others perform as part of a series of more than 30 concerts over a nine-week period. These same professional musicians also serve as teachers and mentors to the nearly 50 Fellows who come to Norfolk each year to study.

Each year, young professional musicians of the highest caliber are selected through a highly competitive admissions process to spend their summer weeks participating in the intensive Chamber Music and Contemporary Music programs working with 30 extraordinary performers, composers and teachers. These highly qualified young musicians are exposed to every aspect of their future profession: their colleagues, their mentors, and most importantly, their audience.

There is a strong bond with the community as residents of Norfolk and the surrounding area host the Fellows throughout their summer experience. The Fellows have the opportunity to perform for the community on Thursdays and Saturdays as part of the Young Artist Recitals which are offered free to the public. This develops a community of music lovers who enthusiastically support the young artists and will become their greatest advocates and patrons in future years. Audiences have heard hundreds of emerging artists who have gone on to successful professional careers, including such notable performers as violinist Pamela Frank, clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, and oboist Allen Vogel as well as ensembles such as the Miro and St. Lawrence String Quartets and the Eroica and Claremont Trios.

Over the years, thousands have enjoyed the picturesque environment of the Ellen Battell Stoeckel estate and one of America's greatest chamber music traditions. The Norfolk Chamber Music Festival is truly a center for chamber music performance and professional study.

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