July 13 – 19, 2012Vol. 14, No. 6

Mayflower Hill Is Alive With the Sound of Music!

Singers in the Opera Program at last year's festival pose on the portico of Runnals Union at Colby College.

by Gregor Smith

For four melodious weeks in July and early August, the halls of Colby College will echo with the sounds of pianos and violins, woodwinds and brass, sopranos and baritones as the Atlantic Music Festival returns to Mayflower Hill in Waterville. Running from July 9 to August 5, this fourth annual festival will offer area music lovers to three dozen free concerts, master classes, and presentations.

Each year, the festival brings the best young musicians from the United States and beyond to study, practice, and perform. This year's festival will have 35 faculty and 115 students and fellows. The majority of the students and fellows are in their mid-20's and most are still pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in music. About 65% will come from the United States; the rest come from over 20 other lands, with Asian countries being well represented.

The students, who pay tuition, room, and board, polish their technique through master classes, private lessons, and public performances. Most of the students stay for the full four weeks, although a few come for just the first two or the last two. The fellows, who number around 40, receive full scholarships and must be present for the entire festival. They do not receive individual lessons, but perform more.

The festival offers programs in composition, conducting, opera, piano, and strings, as well as a catchall program for brass, woodwinds, percussion, and harp. This year, the composition program will be particularly strong, as it will have 60 participants, up from 20 in previous years.

Starting with an opera concert on Thursday, July 12, there will performances almost every night during the festival, up until the final orchestral concert on Saturday, August 4. In addition, there will be Saturday afternoon composers' concerts, where listeners will get to hear new works by students and faculty in AMF's composition program.

On three Saturday evenings, the AMF orchestra will perform. Last year's conductor, Jonathan Schiffman, will return for the opening concert on July 14. This performance will feature cellist Jonah Kim in Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 and Brahms's Serenade No. 1. The other two AMF Orchestra Concerts, on July 28 and August 4, will be conducted by Benjamin Scharwtz and Kenneth Kiesler, respectively, and will also feature special soloists.

During the week, there will be chamber music concerts on Wednesdays and Fridays and opera concerts on Thursdays. In the latter performances, which will take place in Strider Theater, members of the AMF Opera Workshop will present art songs, opera scenes and arias, and other vocal selections.

On the last three Thursdays of the festival, night owls can enjoy "salon" concerts after the operatic offerings. With concerts starting at 9:00 p.m., this intimate performances are inspired by the parlor gatherings of the social and intellectual elite in centuries past. The AMF website describes these concerts as "a veritable grab bag of musical surprises from a variety of chamber and solo favorites, provoking a meaningful exchange: of ideas and emotions; from artist to artist, as well as from artist to audience."

Finally, festival organizers are pleased to present two miniseries. The first, the Future of Music, has presentations Monday – Wednesday, July 16 – 18, at 6:00 p.m. in Strider Theater. The presenters are three young composers — Mari Kimura, Bruce Brubaker, and Peter Gregson — who are pushing the boundaries of classical music. The second series comprises four piano concerts by piano teachers from leading conservatories, including Jerome Lowenthal of the Juilliard School and Gabriel Chodos of the New England Conservatory, as well as by AMF pianists. These concerts will be held in Lorimer Chapel Saturday – Tuesday, July 21 – 24, with the Sunday concert at 3:00 and the others at 7:00.

Admission to all AMF events is free, but donations are strongly encouraged. This year, all donations received at concerts will go to UNICEF's Achieving Zero Campaign, which strives to reduce childhood deaths from disease, malnutrition, war, and other preventable causes in over 150 countries.

Except for the opera concerts and the Future of Music miniseries, all above-mentioned events will take place in Lorimer Chapel, and, except where otherwise noted, will begin at 7:00 p.m. Concert times, venues, and programs may change, however, and additional performances may be added. For the latest information, one should check the AMF website or call the festival office at 888-704-1311.

The 2011 AMF orchestra performs in Lorimer Chapel.