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The Birdfoot Festival features performances of new and classic chamber music, and fans are invited behind the scenes to watch rehearsals and explore the themes of select pieces.

Franz Schubert’s “String Quartet No. 14 in D Minor” is considered a landmark composition for string quartets, and it is known as “Death and the Maiden,” because the young composer’s health was failing when he wrote it — he died at 31 years old.

Birdfoot’s schedule includes an interactive session with musicians working on the piece at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 30 at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), as well as a full performance of it at the festival finale Saturday, June 1, at the George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center.

Birdfoot was founded by violinist Jenna Sherry, who serves as its artistic director and performs at the festival. The event brings artists to New Orleans for brief residencies and open rehearsals at the CAC. Patrick Castillo, director of the Hotel Elefant ensemble, is the composer-in-residence. Some of his work will be included in the “Death and the Maiden” concert. His “Dreamers Often Lie” composition for violin is featured at a free show at 10 p.m. Thursday, May 30, at Three Keys at the Ace Hotel.

“Let There Be Night” is a program with a theme about spiritual inspiration and mystery featuring works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Carlo Gesualdo and contemporary composer Georg Friedrich Haas. The second half of the concert will be performed in the dark. Castillo introduces the program at 7 p.m. Friday, May 31, at the CAC.

Visiting musicians include violinist Karen Kim, who won a 2011 Grammy Award for chamber music performance, countertenor Reginald Mobley and members of Boston’s chamber group A Far Cry. Members of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra also perform.

There’s a free panel discussion titled “Talk: The Art of Noticing,” which takes its name from local author Rob Walker’s new book about sparking creativity and thinking clearly. Walker presents exercises from the book and Birdfoot artists talk about listening and creativity. The session is at 5:15 p.m. Thursday, May 30, at CAC.

Other Birdfoot events include a free lunchtime concert at 12:15 p.m. Friday in the lobby of the Pan American Life Center (601 Poydras St.) and a gala dinner with musicians at Brennan’s restaurant. Visit for tickets and information.