“Mitsuko Uchida, one of the world’s leading classical pianists, could comfortably pass her summers flying from one festival to another, staying in luxury hotels and private villas,” writes Alex Ross in the June 29 issue of The New Yorker. “Instead, she stays on the campus of Marlboro College, a small liberal-arts institution in southern Vermont. Since 1951, the college has hosted Marlboro Music, an outwardly low-key summer gathering that functions variously as a chamber-music festival, a sort of finishing school for gifted young performers, and a clandestine summit for the musical intelligentsia. Uchida and the pianist Richard Goode serve a Marlboro’s co-directors, alternating the lead role from year to year. … Marlboro, whose fifty-ninth session gets under way next week, is a singular phenomenon. The great Austrian-born pianist Rudolf Serkin, Marlboro’s co-founder and longtime leader, once declared that he wished to ‘create a community, almost utopian,’ where artists could forget about commerce and escape into a purely musical realm. … Marlboro’s split personality, its refusal to decide between Teutonic solemnity and all-American anarchy, reflects Serkin’s character.” Ross gives a historical overview of Marlboro and describes an atmosphere that emphasizes rehearsal over performance and encourages bringing an attitude of wonder to the music.

Posted June 24, 2009