Newport Music Festival Presents "A Far Cry"

Lovers of classical music are used to standing ovations, but a standing string orchestra?

The sold out crowd in The Breakers

The Newport Music Festival hosted A Far Cry, a fascinating string ensemble based in Boston, for the second concert of its 49th anniversary year.  These musicians are breaking the mold and enhancing the listening experience with their organization, arrangements, and arresting stage presence.

For its concert at The Breakers, Newport, the ensemble chose mainly known, consonant works, with the exception of some bold Bela Bartok (a.k.a the Mad Hungarian) pieces, that introduced dissonance and a percussive beat (the double bass players adding that missing component.)

Virginia Gamble & Pamela Pantos


The players spilled onto the stage with enthusiasm and energy. 
The guests were welcomed by the new President of the Board of Directors Virginia Gamble, and the new Executive  Director of the Festival, Pamela Pantos, who introduced herself and thanked concertgoers.

An interesting thing was that the players of A Far Cry used eye contact and nods among themselves rather than a conductor. And they exchanged places within the groups between pieces:  Violins, violas, and even the seated cello players moved about, changing spots.

Taking their first bow after the Mozart Divertimento

Something quite new was going on, and the audience was carried along with it, and the excellent performance. This is an egalitarian group that practices in unusual ways, choosing leaders and coaches for small sections of the musicians. And does it ever work!

The opening Divertimento in D Major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  was sprightly and exuberant, the Allegro and Andante wonderfully played, the closing Presto, sprightly, with excellent dynamics.  Sheer joy!

A bow before intermission

The Bela Bartok Romanian Folk Dances began with a  strident “Stick Dance”; “The Sash Dance” played pizzicato, in one spot contained a high, plaintive solo: “Dance from Bucsum” was consonant and yearning, in triple meter; “Roman Polka” again introduced strident stroking, and
“ Fast Dance” was a mad, tympanic treat.

Applause and bravos for the musicians

 Gustav Holst, best know for "The Planets", composed a consonant, charming St. Paul’s Suite, in four sections, the last of which was a symphonic Irish jig, interspersed with the English theme “Greensleeves”. The musicians played the exquisitely scored piece perfectly..

The Antonin Dvorak Serenade for Strings in E Major  was a perfect choice, as  the five moment, lovely work elicited emotions and pleasure.    The Menuetto, a 3/4 waltz, was articulated with a mad viola.  The Scherzo, full of passion and dynamics with a deceptive chord changing to major.  Larghetto was taken uptempo, with  a sweet, sorrowful middle section, and a bravura ending.    Larghetto was passionate and tender, and the strong statement of the Finale, playful and turbulent, sounded like a complete symphony in performance, the dynamics wonderful.

A Far Cry received an outcry and shouts of “Bravo” from a delighted audience. Many concertgoers stopped to thank Sue and Jim Klau for their sponsorship.

                                                                  —Linda Phillips, Music Critic

                                                                     Greenwich, CT Sentinel

For upcoming Festival concerts and tickets, including the Beethoven Series, go to














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