Screen grab from Norfolk Chamber Music Festival's YouTube page
Screen grab from Norfolk Chamber Music Festival's YouTube page

Back in late April, organizers announced that this year’s Yale Summer School of Music, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and the Yale Norfolk School of Art have been all canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The chamber music festival is one of the oldest in New England and was founded sometime in the 1880s.
The Yale Summer School of Music was founded in 1941 and the Yale Summer School of Art was founded in 1948.
Despite this, organizers have put together a series of virtual concerts, all streaming online on the Chamber Music Festival’s Facebook page at and on its YouTube channel at
On Saturday, July 11, the festival broadcasted “From the Music Shed: The Brentano Quartet.”
The Quartet played the works of Haydn and Mendelssohn on stage at an empty Music Shed.
Before the concert, Festival Director Melvin Chen interviewed members of the quartet and discussed with the musicians the music they played.
In an interview with The Winsted Phoenix, Chen said that there will be other concerts broadcast throughout July.
“After we canceled in-person concerts, we thought it was important to do something because we have a lot of loyal supporters and we wanted to keep the music going,” Chen said.
“I think that the events that you stream on your computer or your TV are not the same as being in a concert hall. Just to have musicians playing and to have the opportunity to have people listen, I think it’s important especially since most live events have been canceled. It’s not only important for musicians to keep making music, but I think there needs to be some way to have people be able to hear music and other events. Even if it is in a socially distanced way or a remote way from their home.”
Chen said that members of the Quartet stayed in Norfolk for a week while they prepared to record their concert.
“That was the first time they had been together in four months,” he said. “Everyone was just very moved by just being together and being able to play together. One of the members said to me ‘I thought at our first rehearsal I was going to cry.’ It meant so much to him.”
Chen said that he could not estimate how much the festival lost for canceling its season, but he said that ‘it’s a significant amount of revenue.’
He said that, despite the financial losses, it is important to keep the music alive.
“For our audience, I think to say to them that we missed them and we care that they are not able to be here,” he said. “I am thankful for their support, including the people who are tuning in. I also look at it as an opportunity to bring music not just to the people who come in person to concerts but to spread it to an even larger geographical area. You don’t need to be living near Norfolk to tune to these concerts and I hope we can expand our reach, even at this time.”
Chen added that organizers were already planning for next year’s season.
“Hopefully, that will be a normal season,” he said.
For more information about the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival’s virtual online events go to