The jazz finale of the fourth annual Chelsea Music Festival lit up the first official night of summer, in more ways than one. The “Festival Finale: Music of the Metropolises—from London to Venice via New York,” was held at the Dillon Gallery on West 25th, where the Mexican artist Nacho Rodriguez Bach is currently exhibiting his work: “Psychedelic Patio,” a collection of neon light installations that suggest the different planes of consciousness evoked by musical composition.
The lights glowed a soft blue from the wall behind the musicians, lending the room a certain midnight-on-the-Bowery ambience that only seemed appropriate for a night that promised to honor the likes of Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington, among other classical masters like Vivaldi and Dowland.
The jazz arrangements and performances were by Aaron Deihl, the Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz of the American Pianists Association. The talented percussionist Rodney Green, and the bassist Paul Sikivie, whose rather suave side-part is capable of inciting very smoky, bow-tied, speakeasy fancies, completed the Aaron Deihl Trio.
Three lovely ladies came in and out of the arrangements: the Italian violinist Clara Franziska Schoetensack, the powerful soprano Adrienne Pardee, and the flutist Emi Ferguson—whose performance was exceptionally arresting in its melodic precision and quite sensual delivery.
After the performances, Ms. Ferguson commented on the uniqueness of the Chelsea Music Festival, in its emphasis on the urban. “This time of year, all the classical musicians are usually out in the middle of nowhere. Bringing them to New York, especially as the city is just drying up for summer, is really special.” It’s true that much of what makes the Chelsea Music Festival distinct is its metropolitan setting, and the architectural spaces that the festival has utilized over the past four years are as varied as the music played in them. This year alone the festival hosted performances at the School of Visual Arts Gallery, New York Live Arts, the General Theological Seminary Chapel, the Leo Baeck Institute, the Italian Academy at Columbia University and the Casa Italiana at NYU, as well as, of course, the main venue for this year: the Dillon Gallery. The Dillon Gallery is the kind of clean, elegant space that undergoes metamorphoses with every exhibit it sees, offering the fullest experience to its visitors.
The Chelsea Music Festival is all about collaboration, cohesion, and contrast between the arts, so attendees at their events should expect a richly designed experience. Post-concert, the audience mulled about in the intimate gallery space, drinking wine or beer and chatting with the musicians, and the jovial Culinary Artist-in-Residence Sonar Saikia supervised as six courses of delectable small plates were dispersed among the guests.
Of particular note was the Parmesan crusted scallop with egg mash and saffron shellfish foam, which was so otherworldly that we almost forgot our excitement over the melon mint soup topped with Prosecco. Yes, you heard correctly: Prosecco soup. Clearly, the charming people behind the most successful season yet of the highly praised Chelsea Music Festival are no amateurs when it comes to cosmopolitan parties. Get excited for next year, which will highlight German and Brazilian music.