Mana Saxophonists Return for National Music Festival

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2015 Mana Saxophone Institute Participants

Plato felt that music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life. No one embodies that description more aptly than the Mana Saxophone Quartet, here to hold their fifth Mana Saxophone Institute in conjunction with the National Music Festival, June 5-18.

“Mana” is a Polynesian word referring to “a supernatural force expressing energy and power.”  The Quartet has won national acclaim in chamber music circles since their start in 2004. They are the National Music Festival’s “ensemble-in-residence”, both giving concerts and conducting a two-week workshop for 19 aspiring saxophonists attending from all over the country. They intersperse selections by Bach and other classical composers with contemporary music.

Soprano saxophonist Michael Hernandez says, “Chestertown has become like our summer home. We are thrilled to be here again and so appreciate the support that this community gives us in so many ways. We have some apprentices returning for the fourth or fifth time. It’s a highlight of their year, and ours.”

Throughout the year in their travels, the Mana Quartet looks for young musicians with significant ability and, importantly, enthusiasm for the saxophone. This year they are bringing the largest number of apprentices ever, all students studying music. Generally applicants for the Institute must be 18, though one 12-year old, Jesse Blandino, from Surprise, Arizona, is back for his second year.  “Normally I’d have reservations, but Jesse is meant for this,” according to Hernandez.

The Institute includes intensive classes, rehearsals (open to the public), and public performances. Instruction covers traditional aspects of performance skills and music theory as well as stage presence, marketing, and career planning. This year Hernandez will even teach a session on drawing, asking the musicians to draw what they would like their music to portray.

They will be performing several free concerts at several Chestertown locations, including at the Chestertown Farmers Market on Saturdays. Concert times and venues are listed at www.nationalmusic.us; new additions include saxophone performances on Monday, June 13, at 10:30am 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. On Monday, June 6, at 7:30 pm the Quartet performs at the Betterton Community Center, and on Saturday, June 11 at noon  they will be premiering a new work by composer Stephen Dankner, a quintet for piano and saxes.

For more information, contact The National Music Festival at Washington College at 410-778-2064 or info@nationalmusic.us.

National Music Festival at Washington College Opens June 5

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When Richard Rosenberg raises his baton to open the National Music Festival at Washington College on June 5, it will be tempting to wonder if quiet little Chestertown is being transformed into a classical music version of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.

“Let the wild rumpus start!” one might declare with delight.

Suddenly, nearly 150 musicians are everywhere, toting tubas, bassoons, violins, cellos and horns to practice sessions and concerts.

Of the more than 200 free rehearsals on the Washington College campus and throughout Chestertown, some of the most loved small ensemble sessions take place in the back-room fiction den of the Bookplate on Cross Street or in the art galleries on High Street. Ticket prices for concerts are mercifully low, and some are free.

Sometimes performances turn up in unlikely places, starring unexpected greats.

“Papa” Don Vappie, formerly of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the current leader and founder of New Orleans’ premier classic jazz orchestra, the Creole Jazz Serenaders, will fill the Rock Hall Firehouse with an Evening of Dixieland on Wednesday, June 8. Tickets for the sure-to-be-popular event are $25.

“Papa” Don will be the banjo soloist, performing Reser’s Suite for Banjo and Orchestra, with the Festival Orchestra on June 10.

Guitarist Camilo Carrara returns to the National Music Festival with two “Camilo Carrara and Friends” afternoon concerts: 3:00 on Saturday, June 11 at The Mainstay, and 4:00 on Saturday, June 18 at the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre. Chestertown audiences have been insisting on encores from the Brazilian classical guitarist since 2012.

The evening of June 11, the grandest concert of the two-week Festival will fill Washington College’s Decker Hall to overflowing. That’s when Rosenberg will conduct the Festival Orchestra and four combined choruses in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, “The Choral.” Tickets for that rare and wonderful treat are $18, and they’ll likely sell out early.

Festival movie buffs can watch a film while they get a generous dose of great music on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 8. The audience will hear a much-loved score by Miklos Rozsa as they watch the 1941 classic “The Thief of Bagdad.” The Festival Orchestra will perform music from the film on June 10.

Looking for fun with your classical masterworks? NPR veteran Weekend Edition Sunday host Liane Hanson will narrate Kleinsinger’s “Tubby the Tuba” on Friday, June 10. And at 5:00 on Tuesday, June 7, the Festival invites anyone who wants to hold—and perhaps try to play—a variety of orchestral instruments. Maestro Rosenberg calls that event the “Instrumental Petting Zoo.” It’s free and open to both kids and adults.

There’s lots more to choose from, of course: The Mana Saxaphone Quartet will offer its magical blend of sound on Sunday, June 12, and the evening that Rosenberg calls “Piano Mania” will feature the extraordinary collaborative music mentor Michael Gurt and the Festival’s piano apprentices. They’ll play works by Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, and Schubert as well as at least one work for four hands. Members of the U.S. Army Field Band –including pianist Sammy Marshall, beloved to Eastern Shore audiences for his performances with the Chester River Chorale – and the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” will perform at the Festival on Monday, June 13 in a free concert on the Washington College campus.

The Festival will end on Saturday, June 18, with a 7:30 pm concert that promises to be among the most loved. The Festival Orchestra will perform Stravinsky’s “Jeu de Cartes” (“The Card Game”) and Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique,” and violin mentor Jessica Mathaes, the concertmaster of the Austin Symphony, will perform Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. That concert will be at Decker and it will likely be sold out.

For a full listing of the two-week program’s rehearsals and concerts as well as information about free concerts and ticket sales, go to the National Music Festival website: www.NationalMusic.us .

Let the Wild Rumpus Start: Chestertown’s National Music Festival Launches June 5

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When Richard Rosenberg raises his baton to open the National Music Festival at Washington College on June 5, it will be tempting to wonder if quiet little Chestertown is being transformed into a classical music version of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.

“Let the wild rumpus start!” one might declare with delight.

Suddenly, nearly 150 musicians are everywhere, toting tubas, bassoons, violins, cellos and horns to practice sessions and concerts.  

Of the more than 200 free rehearsals on the Washington College campus and throughout Chestertown, some of the most loved small ensemble sessions take place in the back-room fiction den of the Bookplate on Cross Street or in the art galleries on High Street. Ticket prices for concerts are mercifully low, and some are free.

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 1.15.27 PMSometimes performances turn up in unlikely places, starring unexpected greats.  “Papa” Don Vappie, formerly of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the current leader and founder of New Orleans’ premier classic jazz orchestra, the Creole Jazz Serenaders, will fill the Rock Hall Firehouse with an Evening of Dixieland on Wednesday, June 8.  Tickets for the sure-to-be-popular event are $25.  “Papa” Don will be the banjo soloist, performing Reser’s Suite for Banjo and Orchestra, with the Festival Orchestra on June 10.  

Guitarist Camilo Carrara returns to the National Music Festival with two “Camilo Carrara and Friends” afternoon concerts: 3:00 on Saturday, June 11 at The Mainstay, and 4:00 on Saturday, June 18 at the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre.  Chestertown audiences have been insisting on encores from the Brazilian classical guitarist since 2012.    

The evening of June 11, the grandest concert of the two-week Festival will fill Washington College’s Decker Hall to overflowing.  That’s when Rosenberg will conduct the Festival Orchestra and four combined choruses in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, “The Choral.”  Tickets for that rare and wonderful treat are $18, and they’ll likely sell out early.

Festival movie buffs can watch a film while they get a generous dose of great music on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 8.  The audience will hear a much-loved score by Miklos Rozsa as they watch the 1941 classic “The Thief of Bagdad.” The Festival Orchestra will perform music from the film on June 10.

Looking for fun with your classical masterworks?  NPR veteran Weekend Edition Sunday host Liane Hanson will narrate Kleinsinger’s “Tubby the Tuba” on Friday, June 10.  And at 5:00 on Tuesday, June 7, the Festival invites anyone who wants to hold—and perhaps try to play—a variety of orchestral instruments.  Maestro Rosenberg calls that event the “Instrumental Petting Zoo.”  It’s free and open to both kids and adults.

There’s lots more to choose from, of course:  The Mana Saxaphone Quartet will offer its magical blend of sound on Sunday, June 12, and the evening that Rosenberg calls “Piano Mania” will feature the extraordinary collaborative music mentor Michael Gurt and the Festival’s piano apprentices.  They’ll play works by Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, and Schubert as well as at least one work for four hands. Members of the U.S. Army Field Band –including pianist Sammy Marshall, beloved to Eastern Shore audiences for his performances with the Chester River Chorale – and the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” will perform at the Festival on Monday, June 13 in a free concert on the Washington College campus.

The Festival will end on Saturday, June 18, with a 7:30 pm concert that promises to be among the most loved.  The Festival Orchestra will perform Stravinsky’s “Jeu de Cartes” (“The Card Game”) and Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique,” and violin mentor Jessica Mathaes, the concertmaster of the Austin Symphony, will perform Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.  That concert will be at Decker and it will likely be sold out.  

For a full listing of the two-week program’s rehearsals and concerts as well as information about free concerts and ticket sales, go to the National Music Festival website:  www.NationalMusic.us .

National Music Festival Hosts Progressive Dinner Fundraiser May 14

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On May 14, the National Music Festival’s Hospitality Committee presents “Feed the Festival!” a progressive dinner in three stages. This event, featuring fabulous finger food, wonderful wine and decadent desserts, benefits the National Music Festival.

The evening will begin with light appetizers and wine at the Wallis-Wickes house, then progress to Widehall for finger food and more wine, and finally to the Smith-Ringgold House for dessert and coffee. Don’t miss this delicious event!

Tickets are $45 per person and are available online at www.nationalmusic.us, or by mailing a check to: National Music Festival, P.O. Box 284, Chestertown, MD 21620. Tickets are limited, so get yours soon.

The National Music Festival at Washington College brings over 100 dynamic, young apprentice musicians to Kent County every year to study with mentors from all over the world. The apprentices, who are college and graduate level musicians on the cusp of their professional careers, attend on full tuition scholarship and their housing is provided. Most musicians stay in private homes in the Chestertown area, while some stay on the Washington College campus. Events such as this allow the Festival to provide full scholarships to all accepted apprentices. The Festival runs June 5-18 this year.

For more information about the Festival or to order tickets, visit www.nationalmusic.us.

National Music Festival Mentors to Present Benefit Concert at The Mainstay

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Two National Music Festival mentors will present a recital at 7:30 p.m. on January 15, 2016 at The Mainstay in Rock Hall. Tickets are $25 each, and all proceeds benefit the Festival’s Apprentice Scholarship Program.

Natasha Farny, NMF Cello Mentor, and Michael Gurt, NMF Piano Mentor, will perform sonatas by Ludwig von Beethoven and Benjamin Britten. Both were wildly popular with Festival audiences in 2015; Gurt wowed a packed house as the soloist for Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.”

Patrons are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance, although remaining tickets, if any, will be available at the door. Tickets are available through the National Music Festival, not The Mainstay. They can be purchased on the Festival’s website, www.nationalmusic.us (see the bottom left side of the home page), or by mailing a check (made out to National Music Festival) to:

National Music Festival
P.O. Box 284
Chestertown, MD 21620

All Festival apprentices – over 100 college and graduate level musicians every year – attend on full scholarship. The Festival depends on the revenue from benefit events like this one, as well as donations and ticket sales, to make this possible.

The National Music Festival is grateful to The Mainstay for hosting this event.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy delightful music, played by superb musicians in a great venue, and at a time of year when the Festival hasn’t yet presented concerts,” says Richard Rosenberg, NMF Artistic Director. “These two musicians represent the very finest caliber of musicians anywhere to be found in the world. They are donating their services because they care deeply about the NMF and love our community. Don’t miss this concert!”

The National Music Festival at Washington College brings together inspiring mentors and the next generation of gifted musicians, providing education, scholarships and affordable, adventurous public performances.

National Music Festival Benefit Gala a Hit

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Guitarist Camilo Carrara, vocalist Sue Matthews and bassist Paul Langosch captivated the audience at “Foolish Hearts,” the April 25 benefit for the National Music Festival. They performed songs from Matthews and Carrara’s recently released CD of the same name. Hors d’oeuvres were provided by Occasions Catering and wine by Crow Vineyard. The event was held at the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre. After intermission, Mayor Chris Cerino had the audience laughing as he spoke about the Festival and the benefits it brings to Chestertown. The proceeds of the event supported the National Music Festival’s Apprentice Scholarship Program.

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The 2015 National Music Festival will take place May 31 through June 13. The schedule and tickets are available atwww.nationalmusic.us.

Mana Saxophone Quartet Returns This Saturday , National Music Festival Passes Available

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The National Music Festival at Washington College is thrilled to welcome the Mana Saxophone Quartet back to Chestertown next month! The Quartet will perform at the Presbyterian Church of Chestertown, 905 Gateway Dr., at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 11. There is a suggested donation of $15.

Admission will be on a first-come, first-served basis, so plan to arrive early to get a good seat. Doors will open at 6:45 p.m.

Festival attendees will remember the dynamic Mana Quartet from their numerous appearances over the last three Festival seasons. Highlights have included their concerts at the Betterton Community Center, their appearance as soloists with the Festival Orchestra in 2012, and many performances with the students in their popular Saxophone Institute, which takes places each year during the National Music Festival.

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Looking forward to the 2015 National Music Festival at Washington College already? You’re in luck, because Festival Passes are now available for the 2015 season!

Festival Passes are available at www.nationalmusic.us (visit the Tickets page in the Events and Tickets section of the site), or by mailing a check (made out to National Music Festival) to:

National Music Festival
P.O. Box 284
Chestertown, MD 21620

A Festival Pass provides guaranteed admission to all ticketed Festival events during the 2015 season, as well as a souvenir Festival Guide and invitation to a special Pass-holders-only Meet-the-Musicians reception during the Festival.

Planning is well underway for the 2015 Festival. The mentor faculty will feature many familiar faces, including violinist Dana Goode (who has recently been elected to the Festival’s Board of Directors), bassoonist Jeff Keesecker, hornist Lowell Greer, guitarist Camilo Carrara, and more. Repertoire will include Johannes Brahms’ Requiem and more of the delightfully varied programming the Festival is known for. Several mid-season concerts are also being planned, beginning with the Mana Saxophone Quartet in October.

Passes for the 2015 Festival will be $200 each. The Festival encourages supporters to purchase their Passes early, both because the Passes are expected to sell out again and because revenue from Festival Pass purchases provides needed cash flow to help the organization operate between Festival seasons. At the time of this writing, over 40 Passes have already been sold.

For more information visit www.nationalmusic.us, e-mail info@nationalmusic.us or call (410) 778-2064. As planning for the 2015 season progresses, details will be posted on the Festival website (www.nationalmusic.us) and Facebook page.

National Music Festival to Present Williams, Smetna, & Tchiakovsky

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The National Music Festival at Washington College is pleased to announce its final two concerts for the Festival Symphony Orchestra.

In the first program, Guest Conductor Hans Richter will lead the Orchestra in Smetana’s Vltava (from The Moldau) and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1, Winter Dreams. Conducting Apprentice Qinqing Qian will begin the program with John Williams’s Escapades from Catch Me If You Can, featuring alto saxophonist Thomas Giles of the Mana Saxophone Quartet. This concert will take place on Friday, June 13, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.

The following night, on Saturday, June 14, 2014, at 7:30 p.m., Festival Artistic Director Richard Rosenberg will conduct Telemann’s Overture-Suite, “Hamburger Ebb und Fluth” and Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie. Conducting Apprentice Qinqing Qian will lead the orchestra in selections from Wagner’s Die Walküre, featuring bass-baritone Carl DuPont.

Both concerts are hosted by Washington College in the Alonzo G. and Virginia Gent Decker Theatre, located within the Gibson Center for the Arts on the Washington College campus.

Pre-concert talks will precede both events at 6:30 p.m. Artistic Director Richard Rosenberg will discuss the music to be presented on Friday, June 13, and Stage Director Philip Rosenberg will introduce the concert on Saturday, June 14. Both pre-concert talks will take place in the Tawes Theatre, also located within the Gibson Center for the Arts.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online, by mail, by phone, or in person at the Visitors Center (122 N. Cross Street in Chestertown). Any remaining tickets will be available at the door. Season passes are also available for $200 each, guaranteeing admission with preferred seating at all Festival concerts. Season pass holders enjoy other benefits, including invitations to post-concert receptions with the musician and a complimentary Festival Guide.

The National Music Festival brings together world-class mentors and apprentice musicians beginning their professional careers. For two weeks each June, both apprentices and mentors present over 35 concerts, ranging from solo recital to large symphony orchestra performances with chorus, and 200 free open rehearsals for music lovers from around the world.

Additionally, the Festival is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and it depends on the generous contributions of individuals and businesses to provide full-tuition scholarships for all apprentices who attend.

For more information, visit www.nationalmusic.us, email info@nationalmusic.us, or call 410-778-2064.

Mana Sax Quartet Returns to the National Music Festival

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Chamber Music Magazine has called them “Saxophone Ambassadors.” The Mana Quartet is again part of the National Music Festival at Washington College, bringing new music to entertain those who have enjoyed them in the past and to those who will become saxophone lovers after having the opportunity to hear them.

“Mana” is a Polynesian word referring to “a supernatural force expressing energy and power.” The Quartet has won national acclaim in chamber music circles since their start in 2004. They are one of the National Music Festival’s ensembles-in-residence, both giving concerts and conducting a two-week workshop for 17 aspiring saxophonists who are attending from all over the country. They intersperse selections by Bach and other classical composers with contemporary music.

All members have degrees in saxophone performance and teach at the college level in Arizona and Florida. Soprano saxophonist Michael Hernandez says, “We love playing for the Chestertown community. They seem to share our enthusiasm for the saxophone, our story of the history of this instrument, and the music we have adapted for our saxophones. The interest shown by Chestertown audiences in the past has been much appreciated!

“We are quite excited about this year’s program that we are sharing with Chestertown: Happy Birthday Mr. Sax celebrates the 200th birthday of our instrument’s inventor, Adolphe Sax. The Mana Quartet will take the audience on an historical journey while exploring the evolution of the saxophone quartet!”

This free concert will take place at Hotchkiss Recital Hall, Washington College, on Monday, June 9 at 5:30 p.m.

The Quartet’s use of historical instruments is particularly intriguing. All play saxophones that were made in the 1920s, 30s or 40s.

“I am very excited that the National Music Festival at Washington College is returning again in June.  I know I am prejudiced since I serve on the Festival board, but not only do I love the world-class music the Festival provides us, but I love what it does for Kent County.  The Festival provides music for all ages at a reasonable cost and, at many venues, at no cost.  How lovely to be able to drive to Washington College or the Garfield Center or Emmanuel Church or to Betterton or Rock Hall to hear amazing music performed by professional classical musicians and music students on the cusp of their careers and not have to ‘cross the bridge.’   So, if you have not experienced the Music Festival, come hear a world-class symphony orchestra, or attend a music master class, or see a rehearsal at no cost, or hear a pre-concert talk, or hear music in Fountain Park after you purchase your vegetables at the Farmers’ Market on a Saturday morning during the Festival.  Oh, and be sure to welcome the musicians when you see them in Chestertown.  They are the ones carrying instruments and have smiles on their faces because they have become guests of Kent County for two weeks in June,” says Laura Wade, Chair of the Festival’s Board of Directors.

Adolphe Sax, a Belgian, designed a number of instruments. He invented a family of “saxhorns” for the French army. He patented the saxophone in 1846, part ophicleide and part clarinet.

Mr. Sax invented the instrument in 1846, to provide a sound that could fill in the acoustical gaps in an orchestra, according to Dannel Espinoza, the baritone saxophonist. The result was a tone that was highly praised by composers such as Berlioz, Rossini and Meyerbeer. Over the years the saxophone has undergone an acoustical evolution that has changed this character. Mana Quartet has chosen the “vintage” sound.

The Quartet will be performing at several Eastern Shore locations through June 15, including the Betterton Community Center (June 2), Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s (June 4), Adkins Arboretum in Ridgely (June 5), and at Washington College on June 9. Students attending their workshop will also have the opportunity to perform for the public throughout the Festival; workshop concerts will take place on June 8 at 3:30 p.m. at Emmanuel Church, and on June 14 at 3:30 p.m. at The Mainstay in Rock Hall.

The National Music Festival at Washington College runs June 1-15. For schedules and tickets to events, see www.nationalmusic.us or call (410) 778-2064. Also visit the Quartet’s website: www.manaquartet.com.