“It’s this jet-black, kind of ‘Night Stalker’-looking instrument,” he said.
For Niebling, Saturday’s concert is the fruition of an idea she came up with several years ago.
“This whole concert is really about us,” she said. “It was too good to pass up.”
“Three Tenses of Light,” based on a poem by Rhina Espaillat of Newburyport, was particularly well-received when it was first performed last year.
“That was tremendously resonant with the audience,” Niebling said.
And although Yang lives in Philadelphia, where he is the director of chamber music at the University of Pennsylvania, he said he has fallen in love with Newburyport and has even considered moving here. He is always looking for new ways to tie into the community, from using local volunteers for each concert to having the musicians stay with residents here instead of in hotels.
And while he asks each composer to make sure their commissions are inspired by the region, “I let them do it,” he said.
“They try to understand what’s indefinable about this place,” Yang said. “Because (the music is) rooted in the community, it makes sense to people.”
A preview of Smith’s piece will be presented tomorrow night at the Custom House Maritime Museum, along with a panel discussion moderated by Yang, who will be asking Smith questions like, “How do you take a text and turn it into music?” This is the festival’s fourth year collaborating with the museum, and a maritime-inspired piece is being commissioned for next summer.
“I hope to keep reminding people that classical music is still around, it’s still being written,” Niebling said.
The concert will also feature Yang on viola, Angel Valchinov and Heidi Schaul-Yoder on violin, and Daniel Lippel on acoustic and electric guitar.
If you go
What: “A Sense of Place” preview
When: Tomorrow, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Custom House Maritime Museum, 25 Water St., Newburyport
How much: $15 ($10 for members)
More information: 978-462-8681 or email@example.com
What: “A Sense of Place” concert
When: Saturday, 7 p.m. Reception to follow.
Where: Newburyport City Hall, 60 Pleasant St.
How much: $20 (free for students)
More information: 978-463-9776 or www.newburyportchambermusic.org