National Music Festival Gears Up for Season IX


The National Music Festival returns to Maryland’s Eastern Shore June 2 – 15 with 32 concerts and over 200 free open rehearsals in historic Chestertown.

Now in its ninth season, the Festival brings together world-class professional musicians — from major orchestras, chamber ensembles and conservatory faculties — and gifted student musicians on the verge of launching their careers. Apprentice musicians from throughout the United States and abroad attend tuition-free.

“For our audiences, the Festival enhances Chestertown’s already vibrant arts and entertainment scene,” said Caitlin Patton, the Festival’s executive director. “For our apprentice musicians, it’s a chance to play challenging music and receive expert coaching and career guidance from our top-notch mentors.”

New to the 2019 Festival is a program for apprentice singers — 14 in all — who will be coached by professional concert and opera singers, culminating in a “Heavenly Voices” concert on June 10 at Hotchkiss Recital Hall at Washington College. It will be led by Celine Mogielnicki, soprano, and Adrian Rosas, bass-baritone. Both were last heard locally as soloists in Mozart’s Requiem during last year’s NMF.

“The new vocal program allows us to expand our outreach to tomorrow’s stars and to present many more free performances,” added Richard Rosenberg, artistic director and principal conductor – who co-founded the festival with Patton, his wife. “Though the format for each season is essentially the same, the musical offerings are always fresh and engaging.”

Eight of this year’s events — including three symphony masterworks concerts, vocal recitals and pre-concert talks — will be at Washington College’s Gibson Center for the Arts. Other venues include The Mainstay in Rock Hall, local churches, Adkins Arboretum and Chestertown’s Fountain Park.

This year’s repertoire will include Rimsky-Korsakov’s evocative Scheherazade, Mahler’s mighty Symphony No. 1, “Titan”and Beethoven’s Mass in C featuring the Chester River Chorale and soloists and apprentices from the vocal program. Other highlights include H.K. Gruber’s “Frankenstein!!” Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture” and Brahms’ “Academic Festival Overture.” You can view the full schedule here

For the second year, The New Bassoon Institute, June 1 – 8, will also be a part of the National Music Festival. Five leading American bassoon artists and teachers, members of the pioneering bassoon ensemble Dark in the Song, conduct a week-long workshop for up-and-coming young players on contemporary bassoon literature, performance and teaching techniques.

“It’s all-hands-on-deck when the Festival comes to town,” Patton said. Local residents volunteer to house the apprentices and mentors, civic organizations and churches keep them fueled with free snacks during rehearsal breaks.

“The town is gorgeous, the people are fantastic,” vocal mentor Adrian Rosas said recently in an interview, “the community and the people that were in the Festival…seemed to be having a great time taking part in the Festival as well.”

With programming geared toward all ages, there’s something to suit every musical taste – from a free instrument “petting zoo” where kids can try out different instruments – to impromptu performances nestled in nature among the native fauna at Adkins Arboretum in nearby Caroline County.

A $250 Festival Pass guarantees admission and preferred seating to all ticketed events, as well as special benefits including a souvenir Festival Guide and invitations to an exclusive pass-holders-only reception.

Pre-purchased passes and tickets will be held for pickup at the 2019 Festival. Single-ticket prices for concerts range from $10 to $20. And student tickets are available for all concerts at $5 each (please, bring children under 5 years old to an open rehearsal rather than a concert).

Rehearsal and performance schedules, individual tickets and season’s passes available on the website,

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