The Châteauville Foundation was established in 1997 by Lorin and Dietlinde Maazel, as work was being completed on the Theatre House at Castleton Farms. Its founding mission was to nurture young people and the arts, not only through the sponsorship of performance events but also through primary school education at the cooperative Hearthstone School, which had also been newly formed on the property. Based on a holistic curriculum in which the arts played a central role, the Hearthstone School was to relocate in 2000 and is no longer affiliated with the Châteauville Foundation. The principles that inspired its creation, however, continue to animate the Foundation’s activities.
The multi-purpose Theatre House rests on the foundations of what had been a chicken coop under one of Castleton Farm’s previous owners. It has been carefully integrated into a hillside landscape, overlooking a garden, pond and woods. The 130-seat proscenium theatre includes seating on two levels, an orchestra pit deep enough to hold 20 musicians, twelve adjustable panels hanging above the stage that offer a range of acoustic and theatric configurations, a state-of-the-art sound booth and ample theatrical lighting. Acoustically, it has won enthusiastic praise from artists across every discipline for its rare warmth and intimacy, combined with remarkable clarity that enables the softest dynamics to be present in a vivid way. The space has also been used on several occasions as a recording venue by such ensembles as the Kennedy Center Chamber Players, the New York Philharmonic Wind Quintet and the Baltimore Consort.
The inaugural concert was held on June 21, 1997 (three months ahead of schedule, at the request of the evening’s special guest artist, Mstislav Rostropovich, resulting in a frantic but successful push to complete the building in time.) It was preceded by an open house and preview concert for the entire community, including a large number of local artisans who had worked on the project. For the gala concert, Maestro Maazel took up his Stradivarius violin to join cellist “Slava” Rostropovich and pianist Yefim Bronfman for a program that included music of Bach, Scarlatti, Chopin, Kreisler and Tchaikovsky, culminating in the latter’s magnificent Piano Trio, Op. 50. The evening was a benefit for the Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation, which provides a range of health care services to under-served children in Russia and the former Soviet states.
The following year, the Foundation hosted a weekend of concerts with Itzhak Perlman as the special guest, with young musicians from the Perlman Music School, which was the beneficiary of that year’s gala fundraiser. Then, in 1999, tenor José Carreras came to the Theatre House under the patronage of Queen Sofia of Spain to a program of opera and zarzuela, featuring Maestro Maazel and the “Castleton Philharmonic” in the pit, all to the benefit the Carreras Leukemia Foundation.
Other early guest artists at the Theatre House included Kitty Carlyle Hart, the Lokvany Dance Group from India, actor Ted Griethuysen in a dramatic reading of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and cellist Han-Na Chang. After a brief hiatus in 2001, the Foundation’s activities were re-launched and expanded in the autumn of 2002, coinciding with Maestro Maazel’s assumption of the Music Directorship of the New York Philharmonic.