, Newburyport, MA

August 15, 2013

In tune with history

Chamber Music Festival presents special piece at concert tonight

By Dyke Hendrickson
Staff writer

---- — The Newburyport Chamber Music Festival continues tonight, and inclusion of local history will be part of the musical program.

Festival organizers have commissioned a piece titled “Triangle Trade,” a nonet for string quartet, steel drum quartet and marimba. A nonet is a composition that requires nine musicians.

The event is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at St. Paul Episcopal Church.

“Triangle Trade” is described on composer Robert Maggio’s website as a musical journey that refers to local maritime trade in the 17th to 19th centuries when commodities went from one region to another for payment of goods from another area.

It focuses on the trans-Atlantic slave trade that circulated among New England (rum), the Gold Coast of Africa (slaves) and the Caribbean (sugar/molasses).

Because of the diverse geography, the commissioned presentation will include use of a string quartet, the marimba and a steel drum quartet.

The final part of the presentation “depicts the arrival back in Newburyport with the original hymn tune in the strings soaring high above the dancing Caribbean calypso,” according to Maggio’s website. “Soon after, the marimba layers in the African spiritual from earlier and all three melodies join in the counterpoint.”

Maggio is chairman of the Department of Music Theory and Composition at West Chester University and a composer who has written works for the Boston Pops, Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

He will offer a pre-concert lecture at 6:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s.

The full evening, meanwhile, will offer music of Bach, Mozart, Altube, Hughes and Maggio.

“The (Maggio) piece blurs traditional thinking about form and includes orchestration for marimba and steel drums, as well as string quartet,” said David Yang, artistic director of the festival and director of chamber music at the University of Pennsylvania. “It features a taste from everything from New England hymns to African spirituals and calypso.”

The festival is known for bringing in talent of national renown. In addition to visitors, the “Triangle Trade” presentation features the Plum Island Pans, a local group composed of Zach Field, Conal Ryan, Paul Dumas and Austin Bryant.

Tickets are $30, and a summer festival pass, which runs through the weekend, is $75. They can be purchased at The Book Rack, 52 State St., Newburyport, through the NCMF website or at the door.

For more information, call 978-463-9776 or log on to

Schedule of events


10 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Open rehearsal, 10 a.m. to noon, St. Paul Church, 166 High St., Newburyport

6:30 p.m. — Pre-concert lecture with composer Robert Maggio, St. Paul Church, 166 High St., Newburyport

7:15 p.m. — Concert and reception, St. Paul Church, 166 High St., Newburyport


5 to 6 p.m. — Open rehearsal, Plum Island Coffee Roasters, 54R Merrimac St., Newburyport


6:30 p.m. — Pre-concert lecture with Howard Frazin, St. Paul Church, 166 High St., Newburyport

7:30 p.m. — Concert, St. Paul Church, 166 High St., Newburyport


7:30 p.m. — Concert, St. John Episcopal Church, 101 Chapel St., Portsmouth, N.H.