Cover photo is the view from the Laurel Lake deck
In 2015, Paolo Bartolani started crafting a musical festival designed for the North Fork: The Rites of Spring. The first iteration ran in spring 2016 and featured four multi-dimensional concerts in settings as diverse as Brecknock Hall, Historical Society buildings, Custer Observatory and Laurel Lake Vineyards. The music ranged from classical to contemporary and was accompanied by food, wine and beauty.
This year the festival expanded to eight performances, and added Borghese Vineyards, the Jamesport Meeting House, the Quogue Wildlife Refuge and the Peconic Bay Yacht Club to its venues. Again food and wine were essential components of each event, as well as other aspects. At Borghese an art exhibit enchanted; at Quogue, the animals were introduced; at the Historical Societies tours took place; at Custer an exhibit and stargazing were included.
The final concert last year was Italian Opera Night at Laurel Lake Vineyards, starring Soprano Masha Carrera, accompanied by Bartolani on the piano. That event was so lovely tomorrow night a new version of it is also ending this year’s series.
Carrera and Bartolani reunite at Laurel Lake for a program of Mediterranean lyrical songs by de Falla, Bizet, Ravel and Neapolitan songs. Ticket holders also enjoy Mediterranean table food and wine: a bruschetta station, a spring pasta station, a Mediterranean healthy salad station, a cheese and honey station with walnuts, dried fruit and organic grape sapa, and of course a chocolate bon bon and a glass of Laurel Lake wine.
Masha performing last year at Laurel Lake
We spoke with Steve Amaryl of North Fork Chocolates, who is preparing the meal and has been involve with several of the performances, and Paolo Bartolani about the Rites of Spring Festivals and the Laurel Lake Concert:
Q: Steve, you've been an active participant in both years' festivals. Why?
Steve: I have been a supporter of community based art projects for many years. It is important for me to assist and participate in events that promote the arts, especially when our chocolate shop and gallery are a community based art hub. We have as many as 30 local food artisans and crafters represented at North Fork Chocolate Company in Aquebogue.
Q: Is there something about the concerts you particularly enjoy?
Steve: Yes, the vision and uniqueness that Paolo has accomplished in each separate event. They have all managed to achieve the same magnificent result of combining nature and the arts, while incorporating completely different formats that in their own way benefit the community and spread awareness of the wonderfully talented musicians that surround us.
Q: Most of the time you're providing chocolate; this time a whole meal. Do you prefer one or the other?
Steve: I have been immersed in the chocolate business for the last four years, I do enjoy the art of preparing a meal for a large group when the format is directly connected to an Artistic event such as this.
The menu is Italian themed as the composition of the performance, and the menu is vegetarian. I have been vegetarian for quite some time and I believe that is why when I do, on occasion, agree to do participate I design the menu accordingly.
Q: What is it that you like best about making chocolate, and what is it you like best about cooking other things?
In my mind, making chocolate is a grounding, creative, kind and positive form of nourishing endeavor and is associated with gifts of love that are given at holidays to express affection and appreciation for the special people in our lives. What I like cooking about other things is finding what’s in season at the local farm stands and treat them with respect.
Q: Paolo, you and Masha both participated in a similar ending performance last year. What was that experience like? What are the biggest differences this year?
Paolo: It was magic to have a concert at the sunset in the terrace looking at the grape fields. The music program was mostly focused on the Italian opera arias and melodies to enjoy the lyrical expressivity of the Italian opera composers.
This year the music program is something different. We decided to present traditional songs that classical composers have rearranged for lyrical voice of soprano and piano.
We present Spanish, French and Italian songs written by Manuel de Falla, Bizet, Faure, Satie and Bellini. The opening of the concert we perform the “Seven Spanish Folksongs” by Manuel de Falla written in 1914 and dedicated to Madame Ida Godebska. It is a set of traditional Spanish songs arranged for soprano and piano.
After de Falla, we present two French songs: Chanson d’amour by Gabriel Faure and Je te veux by Eric Satie. At that time, the success of these French songs was the popularity of the salons. It was in these venues that composers have their pieces performed. Eric Satie’s song Je te veux is a sentimental waltz presented at the Paris cabaret club scene.
We finish the program with the Italian melody Malinconia by Vincenzo Bellini and two Neapolitan songs to taste the flavor of the popular Italian song.
Q: Paolo, any thoughts about the Rites of Music festival, now that you have two years' experience?
Paolo: I am very happy to say how was successful this edition of the festival. We have a growing audience that loves to attend live classical concerts in beautiful places on the North Fork of Long Island.
People love to listen to young talented musicians and experiment new music in site specific events. I would like to thank all sponsors that have contributed to a successful festival such as Bridgehampton National Bank, Beninati Associated, East End Beacon, Suffolk Times, United’s People Bank and others, and to the North Fork Promotion Council for its support. Extra special thanks to the Festival team: Cliff Baldwin, Beth Young, Bob McInnis, Abigail Field.