June gets off to a classical start with a pair of high-brow music festivals – first in Chestertown and a week later in Easton.
Opening on June 4, the 11th annual National Music Festival – its motto is “Great music performed by tomorrow’s stars” – combines tuition-free master-class tutoring and showcase concert opportunities for talented young musicians-in-residence on the historic Washington College campus, produced by OuterArts Maryland, a nonprofit focused on youth programs.
Starting on June 9, it’s followed by the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival in the resplendent and acoustically pleasing Ebenezer Theater downtown starring long-accomplished masters of their instruments.
The National Music Festival (NMF) presents concerts ranging from solo recitals and chamber quartets to full symphony orchestral performances. Among the highlights are the Festival Symphony Orchestra led by NMF artistic director Richard Rosenberg in a June 10 program featuring Beethoven’s 7th Symphony and the finale with the orchestra performing Mahler’s 7th and Nielsen’s Helios Overture, both at Decker Theatre on campus.
You can also savor free lunchtime “Chamber Bites” mini-concert pop-ups at locations all around town and two Saturday morning Farmers Market music appetizers in Fountain Park.
This year, Chesapeake Music’s chamber theme is “Cultural Crossings,” led by the festival’s co-artistic directors, cellist Marcy
Rosen and violinist/violist Catherine Cho. Both bring their string magic to a June 9 opening night of Mozart and Brahms, plus Tara Helen O’Connor featured in the “Cities of Air” Flute and String Quartet by Paul Wiancko.
Week 2 of the 38th annual festival opens with “Drama and Delight” chamber pieces by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Dvorak and closes with quartets by Haydn and Benjamin Britten and a Mendelssohn quintet. Featured players include clarinetist J. Laurie Bloom, retired festival co-founder, and violinist Randall Goosby, who returns to the Ebenezer after starring in Chesapeake Music’s Rising Stars concert in February.
nationalmusic.us and chesapeakemusic.org As part of Pride Weekend, June 16-18, the Delmarva Pride Center presents its second annual Pride Drag Show, hosted by Miranda Bryant – no relation, we suspect, to the late Anita Bryant. Pride friends describe Miranda as “our own Eastern Shore darling.” The show, at the Avalon Theatre, starts at 7 p.m. June 16. To avoid political controversy, Delmarva Pride encourages attendees to bring along their “adult friends to see our queens.” Proceeds go to supporting gay pride events and services. For its part, the Avalon Foundation states on its website that it is a “nonpartisan organization which rents its facility to many organizations. The Foundation neither endorses nor censors content presented by facility renters.”
Elsewhere on the site, Avalon announces its free outdoor summer concert series Saturdays at seven on Harrison Street in front of Tidewater Inn and kitty-corner to the Avalon. First up on June 3 is the homegrown Delmarva Big Band, followed by several Navy bands and ensembles alternating with a medley of acts playing Latin, Motown, R&B, country, dance music, and more. You can set up your lawn chairs on the closed-off block between Dover and Goldsborough streets.
June 14 is Flag Day, a national holiday that isn’t officially so. But if it’s observed in any state, it would be Maryland, where the original star-spangled banner once waved o’er Baltimore’s harbor and inspired Francis Scott Key, aboard a British warship bombarding Fort McHenry, to write, “O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave. . . .” Later to become, of course, our National Anthem.
Flag Day is a holiday with free admission at the Star-Spangled Flag House, a National Historic Landmark museum at Pratt and Albermarle streets within easy walking distance from the National Aquarium, the Power Plant dining/entertainment hub along the Inner Harbor, and nearby Port Discovery Children’s Museum. The 1793 Flag House interprets the life of Mary Pickersgill, who was commissioned to sew two Fort McHenry flags – the smaller storm flag and the gargantuan garrison flag (30-by-42 feet) that was a target of the bombardment on the night of Sept. 13, 1814 – toward the end of the War of 1812.
The victorious turning-point Battle of Baltimore is commemorated on Flag Day at Fort McHenry, a National Monument Historic Shrine. (Update: The Flag House has been closed for repairs this month but is scheduled to reopen by Flag Day. Check its website.)
To see the original Star-Spangled Banner, head south on I-95 to D.C., where it is encased at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
flaghouse.org, nps.gov/fomc and americanhistory.si.edu
Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer, but it remains chilly at the beach before actual summer, June 21. So if you’re headed to Ocean City or Rehoboth Beach, here’s a nearby venue for outdoor pop concerts – away from the surf. Freeman Arts Pavilion in Selbyville, just across the Maryland-Delaware line from North Ocean City, has already opened its summer season. One of my favorite back-in-the-day American rockers, the Steve Miller Band (reconstituted), plays on June 29, when you may not need a sweater under the stars, followed by Ziggy Marley the next night. Coming up sooner on the calendar is Trombone Shorty on June 9; Keb Mo on June 17; Grand Funk Railroad on June 24, and Cheap Trick on June 25. Don’t forget to bring your lawn chairs. With these bands, you may be too mature for standing only.
Steve Parks is a retired New York arts writer and editor now living in Easton.