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Chestertown Music Fest Joins Music Mentors and Apprentices

May 03, 2012 05:27PM ● By Anonymous

The National Music Festival will fill Chestertown with music from June 3-16, 2012. This annual orchestral training festival has relocated permanently to Chestertown.

The Festival brings together world-class musicians (mentors) and gifted young musicians on the cusp of their professional careers (apprentices). About 110 apprentices will join almost 30 mentors for the 2012 season. The musicians come from all over the world, and all apprentices attend on full tuition scholarship. In addition to the apprenticeship program, the Festival offers guitar and saxophone workshops, which are open to students of all ages and skill levels. A total of 190 musicians is expected.

The Festival was founded by Caitlin Patton and Richard Rosenberg in late 2010, and had its debut season last year in Floyd, Virginia.

“We are so excited about moving to Kent County and working with all of the great organizations that are already here. We have been blown away by the enthusiasm we have seen from this community,” says Patton, the Festival’s executive director. Patton grew up on the Eastern Shore, is a Washington College alumna and spent much of her life as a Chestertown resident. “It’s good to be back home,” she says.

In December 2011 she moved back to Chestertown with her husband, Richard Rosenberg, who is the Festival’s artistic director and co-founder, and their dogs, cats, and horse. In addition to her duties with the Festival, Patton teaches violin and is a freelance writer. In the fall she will teach “Introduction to Arts Leadership” at Washington College, and she has just published her first e-book, “How to Build Capacity in Your Small Nonprofit.”

Rosenberg is an orchestra conductor who is in demand around the world. He is also Artistic Director of the Union Symphony Orchestra in North Carolina. Upcoming guest conducting engagements include concerts in Argentina and Brazil. In addition to his work as a conductor, he is known for his efforts in rediscovering, performing and recording forgotten works by American composers, especially New Orleans composers. He also rediscovered and gave the first complete performance of Cole Porter’s last musical, “Aladdin.”

The two-week Festival will feature over 30 performance events. In addition, the over 200 rehearsals are free and open to the public. Tickets, which are available by suggested donation, can be purchased on the Festival’s website, by mail, by phone, or at the door. Season passes are also available for $160 each, which gives the bearer guaranteed admission and preferred seating at all Festival concerts as well as other benefits, including a meet-the-musicians reception, a souvenir Festival Guide, and more.

Performances will range from large symphony orchestra to chamber ensembles of all sizes to solo piano. They will take place in venues including Washington College’s Gibson Center for the Arts, the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre, the Mainstay in Rock Hall, and more. One performance – an “Improvisational Play-Off” that will pair a musician with a visual artist – will even take place at the K&L Services auto repair shop in Chestertown. Rehearsals will be in many venues all over Chestertown, and are open to the public, including young children.

“Rehearsals are a great way to introduce children to concert music,” says Rosenberg. “Families can attend for as much or little of the rehearsal as they wish, and if a child gets up to dance or a baby cries at a rehearsal, it is not a problem.”

The Festival offers apprenticeships in all orchestra instruments, piano, conducting, arts administration, recording engineering, piano tuning and repair, concert production, and music library, in addition to saxophone and guitar workshops. All apprentices attend on full tuition scholarship and have their housing provided. They are selected by their mentors through a competitive application process.

“I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to participate in the first annual National Music Festival last year,” says trumpet apprentice Rebecca Steinberg, who will return to the Festival in 2012. “My first experience at NMF was a fantastic one. Not only was the repertoire incredible, and the schedule packed, but everyone involved was dedicated to the cause of creating beautiful music for the community. I learned more about playing in orchestra in two weeks than I have in any other program. I would love to perform as often as I can in the Chestertown community, and experience all that Chestertown has to offer!”

The mentors come from conservatories, universities and orchestras all over the US and beyond. Most of last year’s faculty are returning this year, including violist Caroline Coade of the Detroit Symphony, renowned hornist Lowell Greer, and harpist Dickie Fleisher. Dickie is the son of legendary pianist Leon Fleisher, who recently joined the Festival’s Advisory Board.

“Serving as a mentor last summer was an exhilarating experience,” says oboe mentor Jared Hauser. “It's great fun to work with highly accomplished students in a collegial atmosphere. Additionally the performances were of a very high caliber. I was proud of the orchestra's work and of my contribution to it, and the audience seemed to be very receptive to our performances.
“My expectations for this summer’s festival are very high. Some of my favorite large and small ensemble pieces have been programmed and I very much look forward to working with my fellow mentors, who are a fantastic group of musicians and people.”
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