Elite international classical musicians will host a farewell concert

Pianist Orli Shaham joins forces with the Festival Orchestra conducted by conductor Jayce Ogren to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor at the Crooker Auditorium on July 15, 2022 Photo by Niles Singer

After two years out of the spotlight, the Bowdoin International Music Festival will cap off its successful summer on Friday night with a final concert that will bring together some of the world’s finest classical musicians in front of a Brunswick audience.

“Last summer, I would say the word was gratitude,” said David Ying, who serves as the festival’s artistic director along with his brother Phillip. “We were just happy to be able to make music together. But this year, I think the most overwhelming feeling for me is the sense of community that we have again, and that includes not only making music, but also sitting in a room and listening music with other people.

Founded in 1964, the six-week festival brings about 250 elite music students from around the world to Brunswick to study with some of the country’s top teachers, according to director of development Emily Manzo. The program, now independent of Bowdoin College, promises aspiring professional musicians plenty of opportunities to hone their skills in the rehearsal room and on stage.

“These are students who have practiced their whole lives,” said Manzo, who estimated that most participants practice their instruments an average of four to six hours a day. “The level of play is really high and the concentration is really high.”

While most other elite classical music festivals emphasize orchestral music, the Bowdoin International Music Festival specializes primarily in chamber music, Manzo said. The format’s small groups play without a conductor, requiring the performers to work in close synchronization with each other.

“It’s about reading body language. It’s about breathing together. It’s about finding collaborative production,” said Luke Rinderknecht, a longtime member of the festival’s percussion faculty. “Everyone is there, including students, to sit in a room with other musicians and work together. The whole attraction is to come and collaborate.

Percussion teacher Luke Rinderknecht performs Agata Zubel’s MONO-DRUM in the Studzinski Recital Hall during the Gamper Contemporary Music Festival. Photo by Niles Singer

The result is an open and supportive atmosphere, even as challenges like ‘Guinea Pigs in Bowties’ push students to their artistic limits,” said composition faculty member Derek Bermel. The concert, named after a meme, randomly pairs composition students with instrumentalists and gives them an arduous task: to write, learn and perform an original piece of music in just 48 hours.

“It pushes a lot of interesting buttons,” said Bermel, who spent a summer at Bowdoin as a student before joining the faculty nearly 10 years ago. “It starts to activate a lot of neural pathways that you might need in a variety of situations to write music. “I think that’s very empowering for composers and performers because it allows them to recognize that they can do anything. TO DO.”

“Guinea Pigs in Bowties” is just one of dozens of concerts offered throughout the summer to festival-goers. The program’s subscription series brings world-renowned faculty and guest artists to Bowdoin’s College’s Studzinski Recital Hall and Brunswick High School’s Crooker Theater, while the free Young Artist and Community Concerts series gives students the opportunity to practice in a low-stakes environment.

After the festival was forced behind closed doors in 2021, audiences and musicians enjoyed the return of live performances around the Midcoast this summer, according to Community Concerts Coordinator Jenna Montes.

Festival students perform for a summer program for East Bayside children at Mayo Street Arts. Photo by Niles Singer

“The sites got really, really excited,” she said. “I think they were extremely grateful and impressed with the performances because they missed it so much.”

Ticket sales for ticketed concerts remain below pre-pandemic levels, Manzo said.

Still, according to violinist Russell Iceberg, one of two dozen festival grantees early in their professional careers, the return of the crowds helped bring back a signature energy to Bowdoin.

“Being able to play with people and feeling like what we’re doing really brings people joy, having people experience music with us — that’s the most important part of being a performing musician,” Iceberg said. . “That’s what I’m always looking for. It’s happening here, and I think it’s really special.

Artistic Directors David and Phillip Ying and the rest of District Ying perform at the launch concert for the festival’s subscription concert series at Studzinski Recital Hall. Photo by Niles Singer

Classical music fans can celebrate the end of the season by attending free student concerts at Studzinski Recital Hall Thursday at 3 p.m. and Friday at 1 p.m. a 22-year-old cello prodigy who in 2019 became the youngest laureate of the Tchaikovsky International Cello Competition.

Tickets for the event will cost $45 and are available on the festival website.

While the music will stop for a while after Friday’s show, Ying said he was optimistic about the program’s future.

“The kids are playing with even more passion, and obviously the skill level is incredibly high,” Ying said. “It makes me so excited to wake up the next day and hear what the kids are up to.”

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