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Close Encounters with Music

Close to 30 years ago, cellist Yehuda Hanani began presenting chamber concerts with conversation. He wanted an intimate space for a small group of musicians and listeners sitting close by, talking about the music.

The tradition comes from that kind of gathering. In the beginning, chamber music meant musicians performed at home. Sometimes ‘home’ was the palatial house of a patron — and sometimes it was home, in their own loft with friends, the way college students or Tanglewood fellows play today, or Bang on a Can musicians gather at Mass MoCA, sitting on the courtyard walls and improvising in the dark.

They may honor a Hungarian-born composer tracing the Hebrew roots of Kohelet — or perform Anton Arensky’s tribute to his friend Tchaikovsky …

Over the years, Hanani has created concerts with musicians and themes around the world. In fall, winter and spring, Close Encounters takes a deep and close look at a wide range of classical music. They may honor a Hungarian-born composer tracing the Hebrew roots of Kohelet (the book of Ecclesiastes) — or perform Anton Arensky’s tribute to his friend Tchaikovsky, and broaden into a melodic conversation between Beethoven, Arensky and Russian folksongs.

They will also host conversations with speakers with a wide range of connections to music, like Concetta Tomaino, a close colleague of Dr. Oliver Sacks — she wrote the book Awakenings (made into a movie starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams) and has done groundbreaking research on music in the lives of people living with the effects of autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, as well as stroke and trauma.

Recently their season has expanded into the summer with performances and master classes. And in Covid they have migrated into digital space.