The Adam Chamber Music Festival is an International Festival – not only because it features artists from all around the world but because it attracts audiences from all around the world! Today’s entry comes from Eleanor Gjelsten, sister of Rolf (NZSQ cellist), visiting from Canada for her 6th festival in a row…
Tuesday 5 Feb – From Eleanor Gjelsten
Arrived at destination Nelson 8:30 am to summer’s fragrant air, whif of salty sea, the cicadas and a balmy climate. Felt giddy with seasonal transition. I returned to ‘my’ hostel room I’d booked at 3 previous festivals. Shortly afterwards I was asked to join Rolf’s in-laws for a newspaper interview! The next day a colour photo and impressions as overseas ‘groupies’ was a large feature in the daily ‘Nelson Mail’. Our detailed account incorporated my choice of accommodation – prompting the owners to joke that people will be calling to book “Eleanor’s room”. The local Woollaston Winery hosted a Gala Dinner and my seatmates were an interesting couple of adventurers. They had biked and camped enroute from California, arriving in Pemberton in November! Ultralight flying and hang gliding were their passions, and they had some tales to relate about ‘flying’ in our crazy, freezing winter!
The Adam Festival’s concert opened with a Maori ‘welcome’ that gave me goosebumps…
There are tantalizing intrigues behind the scenes. Transylvanian composer Ligeti (featured in Stanley Kubrick’s films) produced a famous Horn Trio. Visiting Hungarian pianist Peter Nagy proposed performing the trio with Rolf’s violinist wife Helene. As Artistic Director she would weigh the suggestion. Fate intervened. Her Berliner aunt had recently died and the family sorted through possessions. In the Berlin attic was a personal gift from Ligeti — the original sketches of the Horn Trio’s 4th movement that became Helene’s inheritance!! Her aunt Dorothee had connections with Ligeti, Bernstein, Boulez, Henze, etc. whilst working for Deutsche Grammophon. Helene added this challenging work to the program and brought the original manuscript to Nelson for display.
Each day I’m immersed in 2-3 rehearsals plus 2 concerts and masterclasses. Each concert delivers world class artists in varied ensembles, driven by a common passion. The mostly sold out audiences depart in awe, thirsting for more! My time is also richly absorbed with the many contacts I’ve established throughout my 6 festival years.
Are you an international groupie of the festival? Where are you from, what’s the farthest you’ve ever travelled for chamber music?