July 12 – 18, 2013Vol. 15, No. 6

Atlantic Music Festival Brings Sweet Summer Sounds to Waterville

Violinist Eunice Keem performs Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor during the opening orchestral concert of AMF's 2011 season.

by Gregor Smith

Music lovers, rejoice! The fifth annual Atlantic Music Festival is here. From now until August 4, the sweet strains of classic music will waft on the breeze from Mayflower Hill in Waterville. So far, twenty-one concerts and recitals have been scheduled, and more may be added. All are open to the public free of charge.

Each July, the festival brings talented young musicians, most of them in their 20s, from music schools around the world to Colby College for four weeks of intensive study, rehearsal, and performance. This year, the festival will have around 150 participants, including students, faculty, fellows, and special guests. Most come from conservatories in the United States, but around 40 hail from other countries, continents, and regions, including Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, Middle East, and Central America.

Starting with the opening concert, where the Atlantic Music Festival Orchestra will present Mozart's Symphony No. 29 and Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream, there will be concerts almost every night and on Saturday afternoons. The schedule includes two more orchestral concerts, on Saturdays, July 27 and August 3; piano recitals on Tuesdays, July 16 and 30; chamber music concerts on Wednesdays and Fridays, six all together; and three Thursday vocal performances, where aspiring operas singers will sing art songs, arias, and opera choruses. Audiences will also be able to hear world premieres of works by AMF's young, aspiring composers at concerts on Monday, July 15 at 7:00 and on the next three Saturdays at 1:00.

Finally, AMF will offer its Salon @ The Bar series on Sundays. Inspired by the intimate gatherings, or salons, of the European aristocracy in the 18th and 19th centuries, these concerts will, according to the AMF website, be 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." These 21st century salons will be very informal: the programs will not be set in advance, and audience members may come and go as they please and enjoy food and drink during the performance.

Included in this "grab bag" will be experimental music from participants in AMF's Future Music Lab, where traditional instruments are mated with computer technology to create new musical possibilities. An example of this technology is the special fingerless glove worn by the new program's head, violinist and composer Mari Kimura. The glove has wireless sensors to monitor her movements of her bowing hand and transmit them to a computer to enable her playing to interact with audio and video.

Except for the composer concerts, all performances start at 7:00 p.m. and except for the salon concerts and the final vocal music concert, all will be held in Colby's Lorimer Chapel. In keeping with their spirit, the Salon concerts will take place in the more informal setting of the Marchese Blue Light Pub in the Cotter Union, and the final vocal concert, comprising whole scenes from classic operas, will be staged in Strider Theater in Runnals Union.

Although admission to all concerts is free, AMF encourages concertgoers to contribute to its chosen charity. Last year, the beneficiary was UNICEF's Achieving Zero Campaign, which strives to reduce childhood mortality in over 150 countries. This year, AMF keeping it local: donations received at concerts will go to the Maine Children's Home for Little Wanderers.

The Waterville nonprofit offers various services for children and families, including adoption, counseling, an alternative high school for pregnant teens and teen parents, child care and education for infants and toddlers, summer camp scholarships for children who couldn't afford to go otherwise, and its Christmas Program, which provides clothing, books, games, and toys to underprivileged children throughout the state.

One can learn more about all concerts on the AMF website. Times, venues, and programs may change, however, and as noted above, additional performances may be scheduled. Thus, it is best to check back frequently.