As the chamber music festival Music@Menlo opens its 10th season today, its dazzling programming and accomplishments are out of proportion with its mere-decade history.
Operating on a $1.8 million annual budget that supports 65 public events, the “musical start-up in Silicon Valley” originated by cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han attracts a loyal audience of more than 15,000. Music@Menlo concerts have featured 170 world-renown musicians, and its Chamber Music Institute has helped launch some 250 young artists’ careers.
Festival concerts air nationwide on American Public Media’s “Performance Today,” reaching 1.3 million listeners weekly, and 55 CDs have been released on the Music@Menlo LIVE label.
Beyond the figures are personal success stories galore.
“Music@Menlo changed my life,” says Gloria Chien, a pianist from Taiwan who first appeared in the festival as a member of the International Program and now directs the Chamber Music Institute, managing the schedule for 40 students.
“I never knew that an environment like this — where music is constantly shared, discussed and created — existed. It was a glimpse into this world of chamber music of which I wanted to be a part,” says Chien.
“I remember sitting in the company of luminaries such as Michael Steinberg, hearing him using phrases like ‘the thunderous ocean of silence,’ reciting poems or listening to the great singers of the golden age,” adds Chien.
She also was coached by a young clarinetist named Anthony McGill, with whom she appears in concert this morning at Menlo School’s Stent Family Hall.
McGill, principal clarinetist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra — who first appeared with the festival in 2006 at age 24 — calls Music@Menlo “one of the top chamber music festivals in the world, attracting some of the greatest musicians in the world.”
This year’s anniversary season, titled “Resonance,” aims to “explore music from the listener’s perspective,” according to co-founder Wu Han.
IF YOU GO
Where: Center for Performing Arts at Menlo-Atherton, 555 Middlefield Road, Atherton; plus smaller venues
When: Today through Aug. 11
Tickets: $20 to $50; some 40 free events
Contact: (650) 331-0202, www.musicatmenlo.org/cart
At Center for Performing Arts