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Festival Fills Campus, Community with Music
CHESTERTOWN, MD—The National Music Festival at Washington College returns June 1 through 14, 2014, again making Chestertown and several neighboring communities a mecca for classical music. Hundreds of musicians will offer more than 30 concerts, recitals and outdoor performances, plus countless open rehearsals, in venues that range from concert halls and churches to art galleries and the woods of Adkins Arboretum.
There will be special guest artists, including conductor Hans Richter, the great-grandson of his famous namesake. But the heart and soul of the Festival remains the world-class mentors and the highly accomplished apprentices who play side-by-side throughout the two-week season. The 30 professional mentors include many returning musicians who have developed strong followings during the previous two summers the festival has been hosted in Chestertown. Among them are Brazilian guitarist Camilo Carrara, whose recitals have been standing-room-only affairs; and pianist and Tae Kwon Do black belt Elaine Kwon, who will again lead her popular “Piano-Mania!” event with apprentices.
Artistic Director and Conductor Richard Rosenberg, describes the National Music Festival as a “boot camp for the Beethoven crowd,” where students who are completing their conservatory and university studies shift into high gear and perform at a professional musician’s pace. That may mean having three days instead of a semester to prepare a major piece for performance.
While most classical music festivals charge students thousands of dollars for tuition and housing, NMF apprentices undergo a competitive audition process and are accepted on full tuition scholarships. Free housing for both mentors and apprentices is provided by scores of local residents and by Washington College, where apprentices and visiting choristers will occupy nearly 100 dorm rooms.
New to the mentoring faculty this year are the members of the Jasper String Quartet, a highly regarded young ensemble that first formed at Oberlin’s Conservatory. “The Jasper Quartet is a dynamic ensemble that we believe will fit right in to what makes the National Music Festival special,” says Rosenberg, whose wife, Caitlin Patton, serves as executive director of the Festival. “They are great artists and teachers, and they share the entrepreneurial spirit that we hope to impart to Festival apprentices.”
Single tickets for most National Music Festival concerts are either $10 or $15, though tickets for the June 7“One Big Happy Family” concert are $5 (children 10 and under are free). Attendance is free for many events, including six performances by the Mana Saxophone Quartet.
Festival Passes, which guarantee a seat at nearly every concert (a few performances are designated for “single ticket holders only”) are $200 but are expected to be sold out by the start of the Festival. All rehearsals are free and open to adults and children, and attendees are welcome to come and go as they wish.
Complete information about the National Music Festival at Washington College, including the performance and rehearsal schedules, mentor biographies, ticket prices and sales, and donor opportunities, is available at www.nationalmusic.us. Because times and venues are subject to change, it’s a good idea to check the Web site before heading out.
Following is a sampling of highlights from the two-week schedule. (Venue note: Gibson Center for the Arts is located on the Washington College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.)
Opening Night, Sunday, June 1
6 p.m., Fiddlesticks Orchestra and Youth Chorale, Hotchkiss Recital Hall, Gibson Center for the Arts at Washington College, free.
6:45 p.m., Festival Brass, outdoor Opening Fanfare, outside the Gibson Center for the Arts, free.
7:30 p.m., the Jasper String Quartet performs with the Festival Chamber Players, Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts, $10.
Thursday, June 5
5 p.m., “Forest Music” by the Mana Saxophone Quartet,at Adkins Arboretum in Ridgely.
Saturday, June 7
3 p.m., The Woodwind Ambassadors of the United States Army Field Band, at Emmanuel Church, free.
7:30 p.m., the full Festival Symphony Orchestra in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts. Works by Beethoven, Brahms and Nielson, $15.
Sunday, June 8
2 p.m., Camilo Carrara and Friends Guitar Recital, Emmanuel Church
7:30 p.m., four regional choruses—the Chester River, Frederick and Annapolis chorales and Philadelphia’s Singing City— and four soloists join the Festival Symphony Orchestra for a powerful performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem. Some 300 performers will share the stage at the Kent County High School, $15.
Monday, June 9:
5:30 p.m., Mana Saxophone Quartet in Hotchkiss Recital Hall, Gibson Center for the Arts, free.
7:30 p.m., “Piano-Mania!” with Elaine Kwon, Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts, $10.
Friday, June 13
7:30 p.m.: Festival Symphony Orchestra with guest conductor Hans Richter, in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts, $15. Works by Williams, Smetana, and Tchaikovsky.
Saturday, June 14:
1:30 p.m., Camilo Carrara & Friends Guitar Recital, Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre, $10.
3 p.m., Kimberly Rowe and Harp Apprentices in concert, Hotchkiss Recital Hall, Gibson Center for the Arts, free.
7:30 p.m., Festival Symphony Orchestra, Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts, $15. Works by Telemann, Wagner and Strauss.