National Music Festival Welcomes New Board Members and New Board Chair


It’s early June, and as Richard Rosenberg and the National Music Festival fill the air with top-flight classical music (and our restaurants with hungry musicians) from Chestertown to Rock Hall and from church sanctuaries to Adkins Arboretum, the Festival itself is welcoming new board members and getting ready to install a new board chair.

Charles Taylor, Shelby Strudwick  and Jeff Weber are Chestertown residents who bring a range of expertise and experience in key areas to the NMF board, according to Caitlin Patton, the Festival’s executive director.

Taylor was a journalist and media relations professional in Washington, DC, and in Virginia for more than 37 years before retiring and moving to Chestertown in 2017.  Weber spent most of his career in the field of investment banking in Central Pennsylvania, providing investment management services to institutional funds such as endowments, pension plans, trusts, charities and mutual funds.  Since moving to Chestertown last year, he also has been sharing his considerable talent and skill as a photographer and videographer.

Strudwick was a successful fundraiser in San Francisco, where she lived for 35 years.  After raising money for her children’s schools, she spent years as a volunteer, helping to raise money for the San Francisco Ballet.  In 2015, Strudwick chaired a sold-out black tie gala that included a sit-down dinner for 1,200 and a post-performance party for 3,500.

As the National Music Festival board welcomes the three new members, there will also be new leadership at the helm.  Sandy Ryon will complete her third year as chair and step down soon after this year’s Festival, and NMF vice chair Robert Johnson will become the new chair.  Ryon will stay on as a board member forthree more years.

“This has been an absolute labor of love,” Ryon said, calling the music that the NMF musicians make each year, “the biggest miracle.”

“I just came from a rehearsal,” Ryon said, “two days after the musicians arrived in Chestertown, and the orchestra was playing as if they’ve been playing together all of their lives.  It’s just amazing.”

Ryon said she loves that the orchestra and ensembles will rehearse and perform this season in venues they’ve never used before, including First United Methodist Church and Bethel AME Church, we all as venues they’ve enjoyed before, such as Sumner Hall, the Chester River Yacht and Country Club, and many more.

“We were hoping that being in those venues will draw the attention of people who’ve never heard the music we play,” Ryon said, “and it’s obvious that that’s already happening.”

Johnson, who became active with NMF several years ago when he was invited to develop a strategic plan, said he was so impressed with the Festival’s educational mission and leadership that he accepted a bid to join the board.

“Most people don’t stop to think about what NMF does for Kent County,” he said.  “It is so much more than a two-week summer festival.  It’s also the fall-to-spring Resonance concert series and the wonderful Fiddlesticks! Program for young string instrument students.  As we grow, we enhance the economic base of the county, and that’s all good.”

During the two-week festival, the National Music Festival’s 120 musicians and staff,from 35 states and 11 countries, as well as out-of-town members of the Frederick and Annapolis chorales, stay as guests in Chestertown and area homes.  All in all, the 2018 Festival includes about 200 free and open rehearsals, and more than 30 concerts.

For information about programs, dates, venues and ticket prices (several concerts are free), go to

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