Ambitious Western US music center plans premiere

"Beethoven's Quartet," a work first made in 2003 by US sculptor Mark di Suvero, is seen at the Tippet Rise Art Center near Fishtail, Montana in 2016 (AFP Photo/Shaun TANDON)

New York (AFP) - Tippet Rise, an ambitious music center in the rolling hills of Montana, on Tuesday announced a second season that will include a premiere by leading composer Aaron Jay Kernis.

The Tippet Rise Art Center opened last year on a sweeping ranch in the western US state, aiming to bring world-class classical musicians to a venue in nature with concerts attended by no more than 150 people at a time.

The estate -- which features original sculptures, communal dinners and, this year, a new 5.5 kilometers (three and a half miles) of hiking and bicycle trails -- is funded by free-spirited philanthropists Peter and Cathy Halstead who sell tickets for just $10.

The second season, which takes place over the summer, will feature a world premiere of a work by Kernis for piano and cello.

The premiere will mark the first of three years of commissioned works at Tippet Rise by the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, known for his neo-Romantic style that incorporates contemporary influences.

Kernis is perhaps most famous for a 1983 incident at the New York Philharmonic when music director Zubin Mehta stopped one of his pieces, saying the score was vague, and the then 23-year-old composer insisted he go on.

Performers set for Tippet Rise's new season include the cellist Zuill Bailey, who shared two Grammy Awards on Sunday, and the Russian pianist Yevgeny Sudbin, who will open the season in July with works that include Liszt and Tchaikovsky.

The season will close with a festival of films about architecture and design including a documentary on artist Stephen Talasnik. Two of his sculptures were recently acquired by Tippet Rise.

The Halsteads, in designing Tippet Rise, have said that they are looking for a new model on how to present classical music and art rather than building another big urban hall.

The latest season will include a weekend of music for wind instruments and piano meant to complement the natural setting.