July 6 – 12, 2018 Vol. 20, No. 5


Summertime in the Belgrades

July 6 – 12

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A Decade of Classical Concerts: The Atlantic Music Festival Returns

An opera singer, the woman in red, performs with an orchestra at a previous Atlantic Music Festival.

by Gregor Smith

Now in its tenth year, the Atlantic Music Festival has brought nearly 200 classical musicians to Colby College's idyllic campus for four weeks in July to study, practice, rehearse, and perform. Starting on Saturday, July 7, they will present over 20 concerts, all of which are open to the public without charge.

The musicians are all students, faculty, and fellows in the AMF Institute, which, as the AMF website states, "offers programs for composers, conductors, instrumentalists, and singers. Those admitted to the AMF Institute receive lessons, coachings, master classes, and have opportunities to perform alongside world renowned artist-faculty members throughout the festival season."

The students, who pay tuition, and the fellows, who receive full scholarship, range in age from their late teens to their late thirties. Most are either attending a conservatory or have recently started their careers as professional musicians. They are guided by seasoned faculty from the finest orchestras and conservatories.

Three quarters of this year's students and fellows come from North America — almost all from the U.S. and a few from Canada — and another fifth come from Asia, mainly from China, but also from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. The remainder hail from Sweden, Ecuador, and the United Kingdom.

A hallmark of the festival of the festival is new music. Thanks to its Composition Program, which nurtures up-and-coming and experience composers alike, the festival has presented over 300 world premières during its first nine years, and expects to present at least 40 more this year.

Thus, it is fitting that the festival's first concert this year will be of new music. That performance will take place this Saturday, July 7, at 1:00 p.m. in Colby's Lorimer Chapel. Subsequent new music performances will be held on Thursday, July 12, and Tuesday, July 17, both at 7:00 p.m. and also in the chapel.

The festival's second hallmark is its chamber music performances. Each of these concerts presents a varied selection of works, spanning the centuries. One might hear a 18th-century work for string quartet, followed by a 21st-century piece for brass quintet, and then a 19th-century art song for piano and solo voice. This year, there will be seven chamber concerts; the first will be this Saturday at 7:00 in Lorimer Chapel. The other six, which will also be held at 7:00 in the chapel, will be on the next three Wednesdays, July 11, 18, & 25; on Fridays, July 20 & 27; and on Saturday, July 21.

After the two opening concerts, festival participants will take a break from performing until the chamber music recital on Wednesday, July 11. From that night on, however, there will be a concert nearly every night — at press time, July 15 & 16 were the only nights with no performances scheduled — until the festival closes on Saturday, July 28. Except where otherwise noted, these performances will take place in Lorimer Chapel and will start at 7:00.

Lovers of vocal music will be able to hear members of the AMF Opera Workshop present individual scenes from beloved operas on Friday, July 13, and a complete baroque opera, Dido and Aeneas, by Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695), on Thursday, July 26. This latter performance will include props, costumes, and some set pieces, and both performances will take place in Strider Theater in the Runnals Building. The singers will also present an evening of art songs, i.e. songs written or arranged to be performed by classically trained singers in a concert hall, in the chapel on Thursday, July 19.

Pianophiles will also get a triptych, with recitals on Saturday, July 14, at 3:00 and on Monday and Tuesday, July 23 & 24, at 7:00. The Saturday and Tuesday concerts will feature various students from the AMF Piano Institute and Seminar, while the Monday recital will be a solo performance by the winner of the AMF 2018 Piano Competition.

Those craving larger, symphonic works will get their due on Saturdays, July 14 & 28, when the AMF Orchestra performs. The first concert comprises "Jegichagi" a work by festival founder Solbong Kim that is named after a Korean street game, the Dances of Galanta by Zoltan Kodaly, and the Symphony No. 5 of Jean Sibelius.

The two remaining performances on the schedule are hard to classify: a "future music" concert, in which the performer mates a conventional instrument to a computer that alters and augments the sound in real time, and a "Salon @ The Bar," wherein the performers will play whatever they feel like playing and audience members may wander in and out and even order food. These performances will take place Tuesday, July 24, at 9:00 p.m. in Ostrove Auditorium in the Diamond Building and on Sunday, July 22, at 7:00 in Marchese Blue Light Pub in Cotter Union, respectively.

Rather than printing a forest of copies of each concert's program, festival organizers encourage audience members to view the program on their smartphones. (Please make sure that the ringer is silent!) For those with only "dumb" phones or none at all, a few paper copies will be available.

The concert schedule is subject to change and more performances may be added. For the latest information, check the AMF website or call the AMF office at 888-704-1311.

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