American String Quartet, l-r: cellist Wolfram Koes­sel, violist Daniel Av­sha­lo­mov, and violinists Peter Winograd and Laurie Carney. (credit: Peter Schaaf)

Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival returns for its 42nd season in the scenic western North Carolina mountains

EarRelevant Staff | 8 JUN 2023

The Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival is gearing up for its 42nd season, promising a summer filled with world-class music and performers, set amid the cool breezes of the western North Carolina mountains with fine dining, art, theatre, film, golf, and shopping in Highlands and Cashiers.

Highlands is about 130 miles from Midtown Atlanta, a 2 hour and 30 minutes drive; Cashiers is another 10 miles or 20 minutes farther.

This season brings a slight change in the Festival’s concert schedules, with performances taking place on Saturdays and Mondays in Highlands and Sundays and Tuesdays in Cashiers for the first time.

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The Festival starts early, on June 25, with a program titled “Painting with Music” at the newly opened Ann Lea Gallery in Cashiers, where the Rasa String Quartet will present music by Ravel and Debussy complemented by visual art.

Then on July 1 and 2, the season officially begins with “Eternal Love Triangle,” a program featuring music of Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms, with tenor Timothy Miller making his Festival debut. On July 3, Mark and Maggie O’Connor will take the stage for “Bach & Bluegrass” — one performance in Highlands only.

Highlands, North Carolina, as sen from Sunset Rock.

Highlands, North Carolina, as seen from Sunset Rock.

The Festival’s regular season concerts will showcase a variety of engaging artists over the course of five weeks in all, with pairs of concerts each week in both Highlands and Cashiers. Then the “Festival All-Stars” will close the season the following Sunday, August 6, by performing at the final Gala in Highlands.

The Festival will also offer a handful of special concerts outside of the regular series, plus a pair of Family Concerts, each with an Ice Cream Social.

Here is the complete rundown of the regular 42nd season concerts, followed by the list of various specials:

42nd Season Concert Series

  • Saturday, July 1 – 5 PM, Highlands
    Sunday, July 2 – 5 PM, Cashiers
    “Eternal Love Triangle”
    Timothy Miller, tenor; Vega String Quartet; William Ransom, piano
    Clara SCHUMANN: Three Romances
    Robert SCHUMANNThe Poet’s Love
    Johannes BRAHMS: String Quartet in C Minor
  • Monday, July 3 – 5 PM, Highlands
    “Bach & Bluegrass”
    Mark & Maggie O’Connor; Emily Daggett Smith, Jessica Wu, violin
    J. S. BACH: Partita in E Major
    Mark O’CONNOR: Solo bluegrass selections
    Mark O’CONNOR: Menuhin Caprice
    J. S. BACH: Double Concerto for Two Violins
    Mark O’CONNOR: Double Concert for Two Violins
    Mark O’CONNOR: Hoedown
  • Saturday, July 8 – 5 PM, Highlands
    Sunday July 9 – 5 PM, Cashiers
    “Winds in the Mountains”
    Brice Andrus, horn; Marci Gurnow, clarinet; Elizabeth Pridgen, piano; Helen Kim, violin; Aloysia Friedmann, viola; Guang Wang, cello
    BEETHOVEN: Horn Sonata
    BRAHMS: Clarinet Sonata in F Minor
    DOHNANYI: Sextet for winds, strings, piano
  • Monday, July 10 – 5 PM, Highlands
    Tuesday, July 11 – 5 PM, Cashiers
    “Gryphon Trio & Friends”
    Gryphon Trio; Kate Ransom, violin; Aloysia Friedmann, viola
    MOZART: Piano Trio in C Major
    SCHUMANN: Piano Quartet in Eb Major
    BRAHMS: Piano Quintet in F Minor
  • Saturday, July 15 – 5 PM, Highlands
    Sunday, July 16 – 5 M, Cashiers
    “The Three Graces”
    Julie Coucheron, piano; Alice Hong, violin; Charae Krueger, cello
    MENDELSSOHN: Trio in D Minor
    Edvard GRIEG: Lyric Pieces, Op. 43
    Max BRUCH: Kol Nidre
    John Corigliano: STOMP
    Fritz KREISLER: Recitative and Scherzo-Caprice
  • Monday, July 17 – 5 PM, Highlands
    Tuesday, July 18 – 5 PM, Cashiers
    The American String Quartet – 50th Anniversary Celebration
    SCHUBERT: “Rosamunde” Quartet
    Vivian FUNG: “Pizzicato”
    BEETHOVEN: Quartet in F Major, Op. 135
  • Saturday, July 22 – 5 PM, Highlands
    Sunday, July 23 – 5 PM, Cashiers
    “The Viano Quartet”
    PIAZZOLLA: Introduccion Del Angel
    BARTOK: String Quartet No. 3
    Reena ESMAIL: Zeher
    BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in B-flat, op. 130
    BEETHOVEN: Grosse Fugue, Op. 133
  • Monday, July 24 – 5 PM, Highlands
    Tuesday, July 25 – 5 PM, Cashiers
    “Jazz Meets Classics: Etudes en Jazz”
    Matt Herskowitz, piano
    CHOPIN: Etudes in the original and with Jazz transcriptions
  • Saturday, July 29 – 5 PM, Highlands
    Sunday, July 30 – 5 PM, Cashiers
    “The French Connection”
    Michael Gurt, piano; Zuill Bailey, cello
    DEBUSSY: Clair de lune
    RAVEL: Gaspard de la Nuit
    CHOPIN: Sonata for Cello & Piano
  • Monday, July 31 – 5 PM, Highlands
    Tuesday, August 1 – 5 PM, Cashiers
    “Musical Fireworks”
    Zuill Bailey, cello; Chee-Yun, violin
    MASSENET: Meditation
    RAVEL: Tzigane
    KODALY: Duo for Violin & Cello
  • Sunday, August 6th at 5 PM
    Gershon/Cohn Final Gala Concert & Dinner, Highlands
    “Festival All Stars”
    Zuill Bailey, cello; Chee-Yun and David Coucheron, violin; Yinzi Kong and Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, viola; Charae Krueger, cello; William Ransom, piano
    SCHUMANN: Piano Quintet in Eb Major
    TCHAIKOVSKY: Souvenir de Florence for String Sextet
    Dinner follows at Highlands Falls Country Club

Special Programs

  • Sunday, June 25 @ 5:30 PM: The Rasa String Quartet opens the summer with “Painting with Music,” featuring the music of Debussy and Ravel amongst the artwork at the new Ann Lea Gallery, Cashiers
  • Tuesday, June 27 @ 3:00 PM: Rasa Quartet returns for “Music & Wine from Around the World,” pairing wines and short pieces from France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and the US, at the Highlands Wine Shoppe, Highlands.
  • Wednesday, July 5 @ 2:00 PM: Interlude Concert entitled “The King of Instruments Meets the Instrument of Kings”: features star organist Alan Morrison and trumpeter Kevin Lyons at First Presbyterian Church in Highlands. Free admission.
  • Thursday, July 6 @ 5:00 PM: “Bach in a Sacred Space”: Robyn Bollinger’s program of all-solo violin works by Paganini, Bach, Ysaye, and more at the historic small Chapel of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, Highlands. ($80/person, call 828-526-9060 for required reservations.)
  • Thursday, July 20 @ 530 PM: “Martinis & Mozart”: Festival debuts of the Viano Quartet and the Atlanta Symphony’s Principal Clarinet Jesse McCandless performing Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in a stunning setting in the woods of the Orchard House @ the Old Edwards Farm. Appetizers and martinis will be available. ($100/person includes two (2) drink tickets,
    call 828-526-9060 for required reservations.)

There will also be a pair of “Family Concerts/Ice Cream Socials” on Wednesday, July 12 at 3 PM at the Albert Carlton Community Library in Cashiers; and again on Thursday, July 13 at 3 PM at First Presbyterian Church in Highlands, featuring the musical adventures of “Babar the Elephant” and “Ferdinand the Bull” performed by Julie Coucheron and Alice Hong, and narrated by WABE radio personality Lois Reitzes.

More information and tickets for concerts are available online at  


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