Annapolis Winds to Play Resonance Concert Nov. 12


The Annapolis Symphony Wind Trio

The Annapolis Symphony Wind Trio’s rich blend of oboe, clarinet, and bassoon will fill the parish hall of historic Saint Paul’s Church on the afternoon of Sunday, November 12.  The concert, at 3 pm, is the latest offering of the National Music Festival’s Resonance concert series, which runs from October to April.

Oboist Fatma Daglar, clarinetist Robert DiLutis, and bassoonist Benjamin Greanya are all principal players in the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, and they are passionate performers and teachers. Their program includes works by Jaques Ibert, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Darius Milhaud, among others. One highlight is the “Sequoia Trio” by American composer Jenni Brandon.

In Brandon’s own words, “Each movement of The Sequoia Trio takes a quote about Sequoia trees from John Muir’s book The Yosemite and uses it to inspire the music. The opening waving pattern creates the gentle breeze as the growth of the tree starts in the bassoon, moving through the clarinet and is carried all the way to the top of the tree through the oboe.  Movement two is sassy and jazzy, describing the kind of resilient attitude that young trees must maintain in order to survive. Finally in The Noble Trees the instruments play a hymn-like tribute to the largest living things on earth. The two Tree Interludes represent the individual voice of a tree and its story.”

It’s not too late to purchase an Annual Pass, which gives the bearer access to all Resonance concerts (there are five remaining this season) and the 2018 National Music Festival. At $300, the Annual Pass is the best value for the greatest amount of music! Passes are transferable; if you can’t make it to a concert, loan your Passes to family or friends.

Saint Paul’s is at 7579 Sandy Bottom Road in Chestertown, off Route 20 between Chestertown and Rock Hall.  Single tickets are $20 and can be purchased online or at the door; children and students are $5 at the door. For ticket information click here.

Renaissance Folk Music to Launch 2017-18 “Resonance” Series




When the musicians of Ayreheart come to Chestertown next month, they’ll bring a mix of sounds they love to share, from the haunting purity of Renaissance art music to timeless folk songs.

The first concert of the National Music Festival’s 2017-18 Resonance concert series, at 7:30 pm on October 7th at Sacred Heart Church, will feature ancient music played by Ronn McFarlane (lute) and his colleagues Brian Kay (vocals, lute, komuz), Willard Morris (colascione), and Mattias Rucht (percussion).  Now a GRAMMY-nominated classically trained master, McFarlane first taught himself to make music at thirteen on a “cranky sixteen-dollar steel-string guitar.”

McFarlane started Ayreheart expecting that he would write and perform lute solos that would appeal to a wide audience, but soon he invited Morris, Rucht and Kay to join him.  Today, their sound is a blend of lute, vocals, komuz, colascione, and percussion.

Some of these historical instruments may be unfamiliar. The lute is a plucked string instrument that was used in an extraordinary range of music from the Medieval through the Baroque eras; it was particularly important in the Renaissance. The komuz is an ancient fretless string instrument, and the colascione is a type of long-necked Italian lute.

The boundaries of the music Ayreheart plays are ever-moving, the kinds of music they and their audiences love.  On October 7, Ayreheart offers “Will You Walk The Woods So Wild,” a program of Renaissance music from the British Isles. Music of John Dowland, William Byrd, and John Johnson will be featured, as well as old ballad tunes from England, Scotland, and Wales.

NMF’s Music Director Richard Rosenberg says Ayreheart’s mix of “high art and folk music” has a universal appeal.  “This concert offers an opportunity for us to hear Renaissance music much as audiences of the time would have heard it,” he says. The music to be performed ranges from the 13th century through the 17th century, taking the listener on a historical and musical journey.

For the maximum musical experience throughout the year, purchase the NMF Annual Pass, which at $300 is your best value for access to all six Resonance concerts, plus entrance to all ticketed events at the 2018 National Music Festival, a souvenir Festival Guide, and an invitation to the Pass-Holders only dessert reception, beautifully catered by the National Music Festival Hospitality Committee.

For just the year-round chamber music events, a Resonance Pass is available for $100; for just the 2018 National Music Festival, purchase a Festival Pass. Festival Passes are priced at $225 through the end of the year; the price increases to $250 as of January 1.

Single tickets are available for this and other Resonance concerts at $20 each; children and students are $5 each. (Please be prepared to show a school ID for students over the age of 14.)

Tickets are available at, P.O. Box 284, Chestertown, MD 21620, or at the door.

The Resonance season will continue with members of the Annapolis Symphony on November 12 at 3 p.m. at St. Paul’s, Kent. The season will continue in the New Year with concerts every month from January through April, culminating in a performance by the acclaimed Jasper String Quartet (former mentors at the National Music Festival at Washington College) on April 14, 2018.

NMF to Present Schubert’s Symphony no. 9 in C (“The Great”)


On June 9, the Festival Symphony Orchestra will be performing two masterpieces of Romantic music: Schubert’s Symphony no. 9 in C (“The Great”) D. 944, and Brahms’ Piano Concerto no. 2 in B-flat, op. 83. The Symphony, one of Schubert’s most famous, is a musically progressive work of unusual length. In the early years of its existence, it was an obscure work, not being performed in full until 1839, over a decade after Schubert’s death. Upon its premiere, Mendelssohn and Schumann were ecstatic and appreciative, but for years afterward, many orchestras remained frosty in their attitude towards the work. However, modern audiences and performers enthusiastically

NMF piano mentor Michael Gurt

embrace the work, and its unique length, instrumentation, and development are recognized as being landmarks in Romantic orchestral music.  Brahms’ second Piano Concerto is another groundbreaking work. While Brahms himself coyly called it “a tiny, tiny piano concerto, with a tiny, tiny wisp of a scherzo,” the work is in truth an emotionally powerful, energetic, extensive, and vibrant work,

The Symphony, one of Schubert’s most famous, is a musically progressive work of unusual length. In the early years of its existence, it was an obscure work, not being performed in full until 1839, over a decade after Schubert’s death. Upon its premiere, Mendelssohn and Schumann were ecstatic and appreciative, but for years afterward, many orchestras remained frosty in their attitude towards the work. However, modern audiences and performers enthusiastically embrace the work, and its unique length, instrumentation, and development are recognized as being landmarks in Romantic orchestral music.  Brahms’ second Piano Concerto is another groundbreaking work. While Brahms himself coyly called it “a tiny, tiny piano concerto, with a tiny, tiny wisp of a scherzo,” the work is in truth an emotionally powerful, energetic, extensive, and vibrant work,

Brahms’ second Piano Concerto is another groundbreaking work. While Brahms himself coyly called it “a tiny, tiny piano concerto, with a tiny, tiny wisp of a scherzo,” the work is in truth an emotionally powerful, energetic, extensive, and vibrant work, sometimes considered one of Brahms’ greatest works and some of the greatest music for piano. Despite lacking the bold-faced, showy virtuosity found in so many other Romantic-era concerti, the concerto imposes countless technical challenges upon the pianist in order to be expressed in a truly beautiful performance. “I think the Brahms B-flat

“I think the Brahms B-flat concerto is possibly the greatest music ever written for the piano, and it offers the pianist a terrifying challenge,” said NMF Piano Mentor Michael Gurt, who will be the soloist for the June 9 performance. “The solo part contains one awkward and difficult passage after another, yet the music should sound beautiful and natural when properly played. There is no virtuoso display, yet the work is far more difficult to play than any of the popular display pieces. It sounds best when played as though the performer has nothing to prove. The musical rewards are enormous, and it is truly a privilege to have a chance to play it.”

The concert will be in Decker Theater, on the Washington College campus, on Friday, June 9, at 7:30 pm. The Festival Symphony Orchestra will be led by guest conductor Nikolay Lalov of Portugal.

Tickets are $20, available at NMF website or at Festival “Headquarters” in the Chestertown Visitor Center. For entrance to all ticketed concerts this season, you can purchase a $250 Festival Pass that lasts for the duration of the Festival, which runs from June 4-17. For more information, visit NMF website or call 443.480.0221 or send an email to

National Music Festival Offers Family Concerts & Kids Activities


The National Music Festival at Washington College is excited to offer a variety of family-friendly events during its 2017 season, taking place from June 4 to June 17 at locations throughout Kent County. On the Festival’s opening night, a concert at 6:00 p.m. in Decker Theatre at Washington College will feature the Chester River Youth Choir and the Fiddlesticks! Orchestra. Fiddlesticks! is a program offered by the National Music Festival that provides free string instrument lessons and instruments to Kent County children in grades 3-8. The National Music Festival is thrilled to have the Fiddlesticks! Orchestra perform and showcase the progress they have made this year.

Fiddlesticks! Orchestra member Sage Cookerly plays the violin.

Another free and family-oriented event offered during the Festival this year is the Instrumental Petting Zoo, taking place Tuesday, June 6 at 5 p.m. in the lobby of the Gibson Center for the Arts at Washington College. The “zoo” will offer approximately 15 different stations with a variety of orchestral instruments that families and children can interact with. The Instrumental Petting Zoo is “one of the events of the Festival that people in the community are always very excited about. People look forward to it, especially because it is a family-friendly activity that the kids always really remember,” says Michael Sawzin, Director of Youth Programming and Personnel Manager for the National Music Festival.

In addition to the Instrumental Petting Zoo, on Saturday June 10 at 5:30 p.m families are encouraged to attend and experience the “One Big Happy Family Concert,” a special concert for the whole family that will offer a variety. of genres of music with a special theme of “Music Sets the Stage.” The theme will highlight the ambiance and specific use of each piece being performed; listeners will be able to hear a delightful variety of music, from jazz to pop to opera to film scores. The concert will be held in Tawes Theatre at Washington College and is free to attend.

Finally, the National Music Festival will be offering a “Musical Explorers” concert during its closing weekend that will be fun for children (and adults) of all ages. The concert will be a jazz event, exploring jazz as a genre as well as offering a brief scat singing workshop, “Scat-egories,” with NMF apprentice Maria Rusu. (No experience necessary!) The Chester River Chorale Jazz Ensemble will also sing four Duke Ellington numbers. The concert will take place at 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 17 at The Mainstay in Rock Hall.

“Th.e family events have a very unique atmosphere because there is a lot of talking and families are encouraged to move around if they need to; unlike in more formal concerts, at these family events kids can move around if they get antsy,” said Michael Sawzin, who in addition to his role as Director of Youth Programming is also the primary instructor for the Fiddlesticks! Youth Strings Program. “We’re using events to break down the classical music stereotype and these family events are chances to make music more accessible to people in Kent County.”

The National Music Festival, in addition to its concerts and family activities, offers 200 free rehearsals that are open to the public. Families are encouraged to attend these open rehearsals because they are great for younger children who might not be able to sit through an entire concert. Even if it is for just 15 minutes, families and community members are encouraged to stop by.  Kids of all ages are welcome to rehearsals, but for concerts, the Festival does request that children be 5 years of age or older. Rehearsal times and locations can be found on the Festival’s website at Festival Passes and single concert tickets are also available for purchase on the website, as well as at the Chestertown Visitors Center from 10am-5pm Monday – Saturday and 12pm-5pm Sundays for the duration of the festival.

National Music Festival, June 4-17.  For more information and schedule of all events, visit the NMF website.


National Music Festival will Open with Doubleheader: “Fiddlesticks!” Students & Guitarist Camilo Carrara


More than 150 top-flight musicians from all over the U.S. and 11 foreign countries will head for Chestertown at the beginning of June, toting violins, violas, cellos, double-basses and harps, all manner of brass and woodwinds, and a panoply of drums, chimes, cymbals and gongs, ready to fill Kent County with two weeks of world class classics and family-friendly concerts.

Richard Rosenberg conducts the Orchestra

The seventh National Music Festival will open on Sunday, June 4, with a musical double-header in Washington College’s Decker Theatre.  A free “Opening Fanfare” will sound at 6 p.m., featuring NMF’s local student Fiddlesticks! Orchestra, the Chester River Youth Choir and the Festival Brass.

Camilo Carrara

At 7:30, Brazilian guitarist Camilo Carrara will take the stage, teaming up with several musical “friends.”  In a concert that will likely sell out (note to audience:  arrive early), Carrara will be joined by a string ensemble for some selections, soprano Meagan Sill for another, and by vocalist Sue Matthews for a series of love songs.

All but one of the 23 professional musicians who will mentor the Festival’s 132 apprentices are veterans of one or more NMF seasons.  (Only last year’s harp mentor isn’t returning; she had a European performance conflict).  Violin mentor Elizabeth Adams will be back for a second year in part because she loved the historic setting and the welcoming community.

“Chestertown is a jewel,” Adams said.  “It is incredible to come to a place as a stranger and leave as a friend.  Performing for your friends—there’s nothing better.”

At the same time, she’ll be returning in great part because of the Festival’s intensity.

“NMF is such a whirlwind of activity, all these rehearsals and concerts going on at the same time; barely any time to come up for air—or practice!—but it’s totally worth it.  The experience is stimulating, fun, exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time.”

Percussion apprentice Diana Loomer also loved the welcoming community and working with musicians of a high caliber. “Last summer was my first time participating in the National Music Festival, and I had an amazing experience!” Loomer said. “The people of Chestertown were delightful to both stay with, and to perform for. I had the opportunity to play great repertoire with an extremely talented group of musicians. I can’t wait to come back and do it again!”

Michael Gurt

Two mentors will perform with the Festival Symphony Orchestra as soloists at highly anticipated concerts.  Pianist Michael Gurt will perform the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2, on Friday, June 9, and Natasha Farny will play the Elgar Concerto for Violoncello on Friday, June 16.

For Artistic Director and Conductor Richard Rosenberg, the Festival is the result of a year of musical decision-making, and for Executive Director Caitlin Patton, the last weeks of preparation and the way the Festival unfolds amount to a test of whether she’s anticipated every need and solved every dilemma during her 11-month logistical marathon.

“I’m not sure this is the best thing to say, but there’s a lot of anxiety in the pit of my stomach,” Patton said recently.  “There is an enormous amount of work that has to be done, most of which can’t be done earlier in the year, so I try to stay focused and prioritize.”

With 773 emails in her inbox as she spoke, staying focused is a daunting concept, but Patton says her reward is a smooth Festival opening:  “Seeing the orchestra onstage and hearing them perform gives me joy.”

The Festival’s schedule includes a variety of engaging events, reflecting Rosenberg’s belief that NMF’s music, musicians and even the instruments should be as entertaining and accessible as possible.  And since there are few things more universally loved than great fables, National Public Radio veteran  Liane Hansen will return to the NMF stage on Thursday, June 8, to narrate Tom Myron’s Five Fables of Aesop.

People of all ages—even babes in arms—are welcome to attend any of NMF’s 200

Rehearsals are open to the public

rehearsals for any amount of time they wish to stay, and ticketed concerts are (by big-city standards) astonishingly affordable, ranging from $10 to $20 per ticket.  Festival Passes are $250, and include guaranteed seating at all ticketed concerts.

Free performances include music at Chestertown’s Farmer’s Market on June 10, a “Forest Music” concert at Adkins Arboretum, and a concert billed as “Bassoonarama!” at the Betterton Community Center.  In addition, there will be two free family concerts, four daytime piano recitals, and a concert called “Sonic Rebellion” on June 12 featuring Sergeant Major Sammy Marshall (beloved in Chestertown as the accompanist of the Chester River Chorale) with members of the United States Army Field Band.

Back by popular demand will be the Festival’s “Instrumental Petting Zoo,” a chance for curious music fans of all ages to see, touch and try to play all sorts of instruments.  That will take place at 5:00 pm in the lobby outside Decker Theatre on Tuesday, June 6.

Still, the heart and soul of the National Music Festival is world-class concert music played by world-class musicians, and the programs are guaranteed to satisfy every appetite.  From Bach and Brahms to Mahler, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, NMF concerts will be filled with some of the finest and most-loved music ever written.

There are two Beethoven symphonies on the NMF program this year.  On the first Tuesday of the Festival, Rosenberg and his conducting apprentices will present a masterclass performance of Beethoven’s Second Symphony.  And on the last Friday, under the baton of guest conductor Mladen Tarbuk, the Festival Symphony Orchestra will play Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4.

The concert on Tuesday, June 6, will include the Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 and music by Grieg, Reger and Nielsen, but it will also feature the world premiere of Rosenberg’s edition of Schoenberg’s tone poem, Transfigured Night, for string orchestra.  Written in 1899, it is one of the last Romantic works and is also one of the first compositions of the modern/20th century era.  The piece, Rosenberg says, “is one of the most beloved compositions of all time, chock full of extended, mystical and beautiful melodies.”

Rosenberg says he has been working on the Schoenberg piece for 36 years, since he discovered the composer’s manuscript in 1981, at the Library of Congress.  “What I discovered,” Rosenberg says, “answered decades of questions (about missing notes and bars of music) and has helped to establish a new baseline of Schoenberg’s intentions.”

Over several days, after the June 6 performance, Rosenberg and the National Music Festival String Orchestra will record Transfigured Night for the Naxos Record Label.  It will be Rosenberg’s 11th compact disc recording for Naxos and his 12th compact disc.

Complete information about the 2017 National Music Festival concert and rehearsal schedules, as well as ticket information, can be found here

Saxophone Quartet to Perform at Rock Hall’s Mainstay


An award-winning blend of saxophone sounds—smooth, sure and resonant—will fill Rock Hall’s Mainstay when the Project Fusion quartet performs at 3:00 on the afternoon of Sunday, March 5.

Project Fusion’s musicians, all graduates of the Eastman School of Music, play completely from memory, to the delight of audiences and competition judges.  They captured the Gold Medal at the 40th Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, won the 2015 Astral Artist National Auditions, took First Prize at the Music Teachers National Association Chamber Music competition, and won both the Grand Prize and the Audience Choice Award at the 6th Plowman International Chamber Music Competition.

project fusionIn addition to concerts, the quartet’s musicians teach masterclasses at colleges and universities and workshops at K-12 schools.  Project Fusion members are Dannel Espinoza, soprano saxophone; Matt Amedio, alto; NMF Personnel Director and former apprentice Michael Sawzin, tenor; and Matthew Evans, baritone.

Why name the group “Project Fusion?”  Sawzin and his fellow musicians say it’s because “music is an infinite, ongoing projectguided by a sense of adventure and creativity.”  The “fusion of ideas,” they believe, “results in meaningful and enjoyable artistic creations.”

The Project Fusion concert is part of the National Music Festival’s fall-to-spring monthly Resonance chamber music series.  For individual tickets as well as annual NMF and Resonance passes, go to:

Music Festival Trombone Mentor will Play a “Sackbut” on January 15


Michael Kris, the National Music Festival’s trombone mentor, says early 17th century chamber music is popular in Europe, and along with the other musicians in the Ensemble Collina, he loves enticing American audiences to enjoy early Baroque works that led the way to the era of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi.

“You’ll hear the beginnings of what chamber music will become,” Kris says.  “When instrumental music started to develop, they were modeling the way people sang, so you’ll hear lots of call and response—one voice will make a musical suggestion and another will respond.  And there’s a huge amount of improvisation.  In a way, this is more like jazz than one would think.”

collinaKris will leave his trombone in North Carolina when he comes to Chestertown for the NMF Resonance concert.  Instead, he’ll play an early trombone known as a “sackbut,”an instrument whose name comes from the old French word “saqueboute,” which means “pull-push.”

The concert will be at 3 pm on Sunday, January 15, at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, 508 High Street in Chestertown.

NMF and Resonance series Resonance Director Richard Rosenberg says he enjoys introducing Chestertown audiences to music they haven’t heard much before, and he thinks that few, if any, audience members will be familiar with Ensemble Collina’s mostly Italian selections.

“The reason I thought it would be good to bring Ensemble Collina is because I trust Michael Kris,” Rosenberg said.  “He’s an amazing player and an amazing teacher, and he’s super-excited about the music he’s playing.  I’m amazed by how adventurous our National Music Festival audience seems to be, and I’m sure the performance will take us all on an exciting journey.”

Kris agrees that there’s a great deal that’s special about Chestertown’s concert music audiences.

“I’m glad to come back to Chestertown anytime,” he said.  “Last summer was my first NMF and I was really knocked out by Chestertown.  It’s not only about the Colonial architecture and the small town charm, it’s about the community effort, unlike anything I’ve ever been involved in.”

In addition to Michael Kris, the Ensemble Collina musicians are violinist Leah Peroutka, Brent Wissick, who plays both viola de gamba and violoncello, and harpsichordist Elaine Funaro.

“You would never expect to hear the blend of instruments you’ll hear at this concert,” Kris said.  “The expectation of hearing a trombone and a violin—you will never have heard it before.  It’s new and fresh, and it’s 400 years old!”

Ensemble Collina Resonance chamber concert tickets are $20 and may be purchased at the door or online at Resonance, formerly Kent Chamber Music, is in its debut season as a program of the National Music Festival.

National Music Festival Absorbs Kent Chamber Music, Renames the 6-Concert Series “Resonance”


The National Music Festival at Washington College has absorbed the Kent Chamber Music concert series, transforming NMF and Chestertown into a year-round classical music venue.  The new chamber series will be called “Resonance.”

“Resonance was the name of a chamber group that my brother, Philip, and I founded in New York City in the mid-1970s and I always loved the name of the group,” said NMF Artistic Director Richard Rosenberg.  “Resonance implies energy that continues to resonate, to reverberate long after its source has ceased, and Philip suggested that we called this new project ‘Resonance.’”

Maestro Rosenberg says he has booked ensembles for the six-concert 2016-2017 series, from October to April, and noted that several of the chamber musicians have performed in Chestertown as National Music Festival mentors and apprentices.  As soon as he announced that NMF was launching a chamber series, he said, he had more groups to choose from than he had dates to offer.

“Groups from Maryland, Europe and all over sent us proposals for 2017, 2018 and beyond,” Rosenberg said.  “There seems to be a decent buzz in the music biz about what is going on here musically.”

Rosenberg says he was delighted—but not surprised—when the response to the Resonance announcement was so strong.  Musicians, he said, love playing in small groups.

“There is a wealth of great music to be found in chamber music,” he said.  “If you ask any instrumentalist what kind of concert music they prefer to perform—aside from brass players and percussionists—their answer is almost always ‘chamber music.’”

Even composers who write for symphony orchestras write far more works for small groups, Rosenberg explained.  After all, he said, it is easier for composers to get small groups to play their music than an orchestra of 50 to 120 players.

Rosenberg poked fun at himself and his fellow conductors as he explained the allure of small group playing.“It is one thing to play orchestral music under the direction of some egomaniacal stick waver and another to play music that is intimate and where each player gets to shine.  It is the difference between being married to your spouse and surviving his or her extended family gatherings.”

The debut series, Rosenberg said, includes “a first rate string quartet from Maryland, an award-winning piano trio from Italy, a Renaissance music group from the Carolinas, a dynamic wind quintet, a sensational saxophone ensemble, and a sixteen-piece string orchestra from George Mason University.”

The Renaissance music group includes NMF trombone mentor Michael Kris; the saxophone ensemble includes NMF Youth Programming Director Michael Sawzin (who has just moved to Chestertown); and the wind quintet includes Festival alumnus Ceylon Mitchell.

Kris will play an early trombone called a “sackbut” when he performs with Ensemble Collina at Sacred Heart Church on January 15.  He said he likes to introduce audiences to Renaissance programs, offering music most have never heard.

“Audience members should listen for the blend of trombone and violin,” Kris said.  “One would never think of a modern violin and trombone performing as equals in terms of technique and volume,but with these older style instruments, the blend is perfect.”

Ceylon Mitchell, a two-time National Music Festival flute apprentice, will return to Chestertown in February with Potomac Winds.  He likens a chamber group’s dynamics to a democracy, explaining that each musician has opportunities for self-expression and the responsibility of contribution and compromise.

“Great chamber music,” he said, “is the ultimate balance between the individual and the collective, the soloist and the ensemble.  Audience members should observe our continuous conversation in sound from piece to piece.”

Though each chamber group submitted its own draft programs, the final decision on what the ensembles will play belongs to Rosenberg.


Azimuth String Quartet

The series will open October 9 with the Azimuth String Quartet at St. Paul’s Parish. Two of the members, violinist Nicholas Currie and cellist Adam Gonzalez, have performed in Kent County before (and even at St. Paul’s) as former members of the Mariner String Quartet.

For November’s Resonance offering, the National Music Festival is co-sponsoring an appearance by Italy’s David Trio with the Department of Music at Washington College.

With the addition of the Resonance series, the National Music Festival will now offer three series pass options:  a Resonance Pass (for the six-concert series from October to April) is $100; a Festival Pass (for all ticketed Festival concerts during the first two weeks of June) is $225 now and $250 after January 1, 2017; and an Annual Pass is $300 (for both Festival and Resonance concerts).

Information about concert programs, dates and venues is on the NMF website:  Single concert tickets ($20 each) and Passes may be purchased on-line or by mailing a check to P.O. Box 284, Chestertown, MD 21620.  Any remaining single tickets will be available at the door.

National Music Festival: Students’ First Impressions


“Musicians are ready to play, head-to-toe….”

One who had never been north of Tennessee loves our architecture. Another from Kansas is amazed at all the water around Kent County. All comment on the friendliness of the local people and the wealth of knowledge available to music students during these two weeks.

“The town is gorgeous,” says Olivia Windus from Bolivar, New York, who has returned for her second year with the Mana Saxophone Institute, part of the National Music Festival. “It reminds me of home, but it’s more glamorous. The campus is fabulous,” she adds.

“I was so nervous at first,” says Shannon-Kate Kelley from Smithtown, New York. “But everyone in Chestertown is so excited about us. The Emmanuel Church even raised money for our lunches!”

The Mana Saxophone Quartet has brought their largest group ever- 19 student saxophonists, known as apprentices, all of whom plan to make a career in music education or performance.

Windus plans to become a music therapist. “Unlike school, this is a real life experience. We get advice from a different perspective, from professionals as well as from our fellow students,” she says.

Jonathan Selmer is a sophomore at Glendale Community College in Arizona, where there are only three other saxophone education majors. He jumped at the chance to come back for a second year of the sort of instruction that is unique for students like him.

Diane Hunger, a saxophone mentor who is part of the Mana Quartet says, “These students are so enthusiastic and want to learn. They feed off of each other and are making really good use of their time here. After a performance last night we had a pizza dinner together and after that, several went to the College to practice. Dedication!”

Besides rehearsing together and instructing student quartets, the mentors take turns giving lessons on many aspects of music performance. As a change of pace, Michael Hernandez of the Quartet, who is also a visual artist, led one which he called “Drawing for Dummies.” He passed out paper and crayons and asked each musician to draw a glass, a basket, and salt and pepper shakers. Like a listener hearing music, each student ended with a very different interpretation of the same thing.

The Mana Quartet has just released its first commercially available CD, which includes a work written by Stephen Dankner and premiered in Chestertown in 2014. A new video profiling the ensemble can be seen at

They will be performing free concerts at several Chestertown locations, including at the Chestertown Farmers Market on Saturdays. Concert times and venues are listed at; new additions include saxophone performances on Monday, June 13, at 10:00am in Wesley Hall at Heron Point and on Friday, June 17, at 10:30am at the Amy Lynn Ferris Adult Activity Center, 200 Schauber Rd., in Chestertown.