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Eastern Music Festival returns to Greensboro for 58th summer of music

Eastern Music Festival returns to Greensboro for 58th summer of music

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GREENSBORO — Gerard Schwarz will mark his 15th season at the Eastern Music Festival with a program he describes as “the most ambitious and extraordinary we have ever put together.”

Nearly 270 young musicians from around the world — and 75 professionals to teach them — will arrive Saturday at Guilford College for the 58th annual festival. That’s up from about 225 students last year.

For the public, that means five weeks of daily classical music concerts featuring acclaimed guest artists, two student orchestras and the faculty’s Eastern Festival Orchestra.

The festival will start Monday with a faculty chamber concert at Tew Recital Hall on the UNCG campus. Audiences can hear live music daily through July 27.

“The fruits of all of our labors are really coming to fruition,” said Schwarz, the renowned New York-based conductor who programs the festival as its music director.

“Our reputation as one of the most important schools and festivals in the country is well established now,” he said. “There’s always work to do to be better. Yet at the same time, there’s more of a comfort level now. And that comfort level enables us to dream and continue our path of growth.”

Adding to that comfort have been several major financial gifts that the nonprofit festival has announced in the past year.

They include $500,000 over five years from Alan G. Benaroya of San Diego in honor of his long friendship with Schwarz.

“The multiyear commitments and gifts help us build stability,” said Executive Director Chris Williams, who oversees the administrative side of the festival. “Knowing that key pieces of our income stream are secured two, three or four years out helps us think strategically and plan more effectively.”

Thanks to planning by Schwarz and Williams, look for both familiar and new music, faculty members and guest artists this summer.

EMF will add a new Euphonium Tuba Institute for students, and a chamber concert at a new theater in the Well-Spring retirement community.

Among soloists returning this year are violinists Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Jeffrey Multer, and pianists Horacio Gutiérrez, Awadagin Pratt and William Wolfram.

Guest artists new to the festival include the Pacifica Quartet, a Grammy Award-winning string quartet based in Bloomington, Ind., and award-winning violinist Mark Peskanov.

For the faculty’s Eastern Festival Orchestra, “I wanted to do important repertoire that challenges them and at the same time is filled with music that the audience knows,” Schwarz said.

The faculty orchestra will perform warhorses including Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 and Richard Strauss’ “Eine Alpensinfoine,” the Alpine Symphony.

It also will present composer Joan Tower’s less-familiar “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 6,” and John Corigliano’s fun “Stomp for Orchestra.”

The Bonnie McElveen-Hunter Commissioning Project will take a one-year break from producing works for EMF. McElveen-Hunter has focused this year on commissioning a piece honoring former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, to be performed by the National Symphony Orchestra.

Instead, Schwarz will present the world premiere of his work inspired by composer Anton Webern’s “Adagio.”

Schwarz takes a similar approach in programming music for the student orchestras with resident conductors José-Luis Novo and Grant Cooper.

“It’s that combination of the great standard repertoire that’s crucial for our students to play and know and our audience to hear, and works that can challenge them — works they may not have heard before and composers they may not have heard before,” Schwarz said.

Here is a sample of what to expect this summer. Go online to for a complete schedule.

Festival orchestra

What: The Saturday night Joseph M. Bryan Jr. Festival Orchestra Series features high-profile artists performing with the faculty orchestra, led by Gerard Schwarz.

When: 8 p.m. June 29 and July 6, 13, 20 and 27.

Where: Dana Auditorium, Guilford College, 5800 W. Friendly Ave.

Tickets: $40 or $45 for adults, $35 or $40 for seniors and students. Packages for all five concerts are $175 or $205 for adults, $150 or $190 for seniors and students.


June 29: Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg will perform Bach’s Violin Concerto. The orchestra will perform Handel’s Concerto Grosso. The Pacifica Quartet will join the orchestra on Schoenberg’s Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra. Organist André Lash will join the orchestra on Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3.

July 6: Mark Peskanov will join the orchestra on Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto. The orchestra will perform Joan Tower’s “Sixth Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman” and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11.

July 13: Pianist Awadagin Pratt will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 with the orchestra. Harpist Morgan Short will perform with the orchestra Debussy’s “Danse secrée et profane.” The orchestra will present Beethoven’s overture to “The Creatures of Prometheus,” and Ravel’s Suite from “Ma mère L’Oye” (Mother Goose) and “La Vaise.”

July 20: EMF Concertmaster Jeffrey Multer will perform Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. The orchestra will play John Corigliano’s “Stomp” for Orchestra and Mahler’s Symphony No. 6.

July 27: Schwarz’ “Adagio,” based on a work by the late Austrian composer Anton Webern, will receive its world premiere. Horacio Gutiérrez will perform Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 with the orchestra. The orchestra will play Richard Strauss’ “Eine Alpensinfoine,” the Alpine Symphony.


What: The concert will feature both student orchestras, the faculty’s professional orchestra, and soloists Nigel Armstrong and Julian Schwarz performing an all-Brahms program under the baton of Gerard Schwarz. Thanks to the Mebane Foundation, concertgoers can choose a ticket price that fits their budget.

When: 8 p.m. June 28

Where: Dana Auditorium, Guilford College, 5800 W. Friendly Ave.

Tickets: Call the Triad Stage box office at 336-272-0160 and pay what you can.

Signature shows

  • June 26: Brass faculty members perform at First Presbyterian Church, 617 N. Elm St., Greensboro. 8 p.m. $30 adults, $25 students and seniors.
  • June 27: Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg performs with an EMF Chamber Orchestra in Dana Auditorium. 8 p.m. $25 and $30 adults, $20 and $25 students and seniors.
  • June 30: The Pacifica Quartet performs in Dana Auditorium. 3 p.m. $25 and $30 adults, $20 and $25 students and seniors.
  • July 3: Faculty members perform an all-Mozart program in Dana Auditorium. 8 p.m. Dana Auditorium. $25 and $30 adults, $20 and $25 students and seniors.
  • July 16: EMF Fellows will perform a chamber recital. 8 p.m., Well-Spring Theater, 4100 Well-Spring Drive, Greensboro. $20 adults, $15 students and seniors.
  • July 17: Pianist William Wolfram will perform. 8 p.m. Dana Auditorium. $25 and $30 adults, $20 and $25 students and seniors.
  • July 24: Classical guitar students will perform. 8 p.m. Temple Emanuel, 1129 Jefferson Road, Greensboro. $30 adults, $25 students and seniors.

Open house

What: Experience what EMF is all about for free, during its fourth annual open house from 1 to 5:45 p.m. July 21.

  • 1 p.m.: Percussion ensemble concert, Dana Auditorium
  • 2:15 p.m.: Guitar orchestra recital, Carnegie Room, Hege Library
  • 3 p.m.: Pianapalooza, Sternberger Auditorium
  • 4:15 p.m.: Conducting scholars showcase, Dana Auditorium

A night of opera

EMF’s popular annual collaboration with Greensboro Opera returns with selections from opera and musical theater with the theme of “Send in The Clowns.”

David Holley, the opera’s general and artistic director, has created an evening of music by soprano Megan Cleaveland, mezzo-soprano Clara Nieman, tenor Joel Sorensen and bass-baritone Donald Hartmann, accompanied by pianist Benjamin Blozan.

When: 8 p.m. July 10

Where: Temple Emanuel, 1129 Jefferson Road, Greensboro

Tickets: $45 adults, $40 students and seniors

New institute

EMF has added a Euphonium Tuba Institute, modeled after the growing guitar and conducting programs added in recent years.

From June 22 to July 6, 16 tuba students and 10 euphonium players will get intensive instruction in their instruments. The institute will conclude with a public recital.

EMF has professionals ready to teach. Aaron Tindall is the faculty’s tuba player. Demondrea Thurman plays the euphonium — often called tenor tuba — and has accompanied his wife, violinist Jenny Grégoire, to EMF for more than 10 summers.

“Jerry (Schwarz), the faculty and I are always exploring new program ideas,” Executive Director Chris Williams said. “This one proved doable because we had such great pros already in the EMF family. We all agreed that there was demand for this particular program and our enrollment numbers are proving us right.”

What: Euphonium Tuba Institute Young Artist recital

When: 6 p.m. July 6

Where: Carnegie Room, Hege Library, Guilford College

Admission: Free

Free student shows

Chamber recitals: 6:30 p.m. July 10, 4 and 6:30 p.m. July 17, 1:30 and 6:15 p.m. July 23, 1:30 p.m. July 27 in Sternberger Auditorium, Guilford College.

Piano recitals: 3 p.m. July 17 and 14, 6:30 p.m. July 24 in Sternberger Auditorium.

Master classes: In each class, an EMF student will perform and the professional will offer advice. Unless otherwise noted, all will be at 4 p.m. in Sternberger Auditorium.

  • June 27: Demondrae Thurman, euphonium, and Aaron Tindall, tuba.
  • June 28: Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violin.
  • June 30, 7 p.m.: The Pacifica Quartet. Violin at the Carnegie Room, Hege Library; viola at the Moon Room, Dana Auditorium; cello at the Choir Room, Dana Auditorium.
  • July 2: Marina Lomazov, piano.
  • July 5: Mark Peskanov, violin.
  • July 8: Victoria Chiang, viola.
  • July 11: Renée Jolles, violin.
  • July 12: William Wolfram, piano.
  • July 16: Norman Krieger, piano.
  • July 18: Jeffrey Multer, violin.
  • July 19: Awadagin Pratt, piano.
  • July 20: Thomas Viloteau, guitar, in the Carnegie Room, Hege Library.
  • July 25: Horacio Gutierrez, piano.
  • July 26: Bernard Zinck, violin.
  • Free library music

For the ninth year, EMF Encircling the City will bring String Fellows quartet performances for children and families to Greensboro Public Library branches.

Developed by EMF faculty member Diane Phoenix-Neal, the program offers a free short concert of major works from classical literature.

All start at 10:30 a.m.

  • July 8, Glenn McNairy branch, 4860 Lake Jeanette Road, 336-373-2015.
  • July 8, McGirt Horton branch, 2501 Phillips Ave., 336-373-5810.
  • July 9, Kathleen Clay Edwards branch, 1420 Price Park Road, 336-373-2923.
  • July 10, Hemphill branch, 2301 W. Vandalia Road, 336-373-2925.
  • July 11, Glenwood branch, 1901 W. Florida St., 336-297-5000.
  • July 18, Benjamin branch, 1530 Benjamin Parkway, 336-373-7540.
  • July 22, Central Library, 219 N. Church St., 336-373-2471
  • July 23, Vance Chavis branch, 900 S. Benbow Road, 336-373-5858.


EMF will partner with the free city concert series Music for a Sunday Evening in the Park on two consecutive Sundays in July.

On July 14, the Young Artists will perform with EMF conducting scholars at 6:30 p.m. at LeBauer Park, 208 N. Davie St. Greensboro.

On July 21, the Piedmont Triad Jazz Orchestra will perform at 6 p.m. on Founders Lawn at Guilford College.

Student orchestras

What: The two Young Artist Orchestras will open their season in a performance with the faculty orchestra, led by Gerard Schwarz.

When: 8 p.m. June 28

Where: Dana Auditorium

Tickets: Call the Triad Stage box office at 336-272-0160 and pay what you can.


What: Other student orchestra performances will be at 8 p.m. July 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25 and 26. The July 25 concert will feature Concerto Competition winners, conducted by Grant Cooper and José-Luis Novo.

Tickets: $10 per concert, $80 per package

Chamber music

What: Faculty members will perform chamber concerts on Mondays at UNCG and Tuesdays in Dana Auditorium at Guilford College.

When and where: 8 p.m. June 24 and July 1, 8, 15 and 22 at the newly-named Tew Recital Hall at the UNCG School of Music, 100 McIver St., Greensboro. Guest artists from the previous Saturday night concert sometimes join the Monday chamber performance.

When and where: 8 p.m. June 25 and July 2, 9 and 23 at Dana Auditorium

Tickets: $30 adults, $25 for students and seniors. Packages for UNCG performances are $125 adults and $115 students and seniors. Packages for Guilford College are $100 adults and $92 students and seniors.

Learn about the music

Before each Thursday, Friday and Saturday night concert, music experts will explore the backstory behind the repertoire at 7 p.m. in the Moon Room of Dana Auditorium.

Scheduled to speak are Peter Perret, Greg Carroll and Cat Keen Hock. Admission is free.

Contact Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane at 336-373-5204 and follow @dawn dkaneNR on Twitter.


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