National Music Festival opens 12th season in Chestertown on June 2

CHESTERTOWN — The National Music Festival is returning to Chestertown for its 12th season, bringing together 28 mentors and 100 promising apprentices.

During the June 2-15 festival, they will be presenting more than 30 events, ranging from majestic symphonies to intimate chamber music, pre-concert talks and master classes — plus dozens of free open rehearsals.

Mentors are professional musicians who teach and perform all over the country and the world; apprentices are young professional musicians on the cusp of their careers.

Festival musicians come to Chestertown each season from about a dozen countries and 30 U.S. states.

This year’s mentors will include Brazilian guitarist Camilo Carrara, a longtime audience favorite; Yoshiaki Horiguchi (bass) and Diana Loomer (percussion), who also are NMF alumni; and still others who have been with the festival since its inception in 2011, Dana Goode (violin), Jared Hauser (oboe), Jeff Keesecker (bassoon), Tom Parchman (clarinet) and Jennifer Parker-Harley (flute).

New to the mentor faculty this year is Emma McGrath, a British violinist who is traveling from Australia, where she is the concertmaster of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

McGrath’s career includes a London debut in the Purcell Room at age 10, tours all over the world and solos with orchestras ranging from the Seattle Symphony to the Royal Northern Sinfonia.

She will be featured as a concerto soloist with the NMF’s symphony orchestra on June 8.

Festival alumnus Alexander Humala will return to Chestertown as a guest conductor. He is currently music director of the Krakow Philharmonic in Poland.

A special treat will be performances by guest soprano Caitlin Redding, who grew up in Kent County (Galena). She will be the soloist in Mahler’s Fourth Symphony and will sing a variety of songs by Gottschalk and Berg, both with the orchestra and in chamber music settings.

Redding also will give a recital at Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Sunday, June 9, to raise funds for the lunches that the church provides to the festival’s musicians.

According to her biography on the National Music Festival’s website, Redding holds a graduate degree from The Juilliard School where she was a recipient of the prestigious Novick Grant. She also earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in the humanities with concentrations in Italian literature and vocal performance (opera) from the University of Maryland.

She speaks English, German, Italian, Spanish, Catalan and French, and currently splits her time between Barcelona and Berlin.

Concert schedules, tickets and festival passes are available on the NMF’s website,

The festival has launched a new website and a more user-friendly ticketing system; there are no fees to purchase tickets online.

Highlights of the much-anticipated 12th season include:

• Monumental symphonic works, including Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony.

• Concerto performances featuring several mentors, including violin mentors James Stern and Emma McGrath in Berg’s Violin Concerto and MacKenzie’s Pibroch Suite, respectively; Renate Falkner in Shulman’s Theme and Variations for Viola; and Yoshiaki Horiguchi in Martin’s Concerto for Double Bass.

• Chamber music by Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak, Gershwin and Nielsen, among others.

• A free Family Concert and Instrument Petting Zoo, featuring string instruments.

• Forest Music, a unique performance art event in collaboration with Adkins Arboretum. Tickets are available at

One performance that already is garnering attention throughout the region is the CATcerto, featuring Nora The Piano Cat and composed by Mindaugas Piecaitis, using videos of Nora playing the piano.

This 5-minute work will be presented in memory of Nora The Piano Cat, the NMF’s official mascot that recently passed away at age 19.

The composer will travel from Europe to conduct his work, which features videos of Nora projected onto a large screen and accompanied by a live orchestra.

In collaboration with Nora The Piano Cat LLC, Chestertown’s Cat Colloquium and the Animal Care Shelter for Kent County, the National Music Festival will present the first Feline Fun Fest on Sunday, June 9 in downtown Chestertown. This free, family-friendly event will feature musical performances, art activities, videos of Nora The Piano Cat and more.

Several local businesses will participate by offering cat-themed products.

“Whatever your musical tastes, we have performances you will love,” Richard Rosenberg, the NMF’s artistic director, said in a news release. “In addition to our flagship orchestra concerts, try our ‘Lunchtime Chamber Bites,’ our special Family Concert, or our Market Music in Fountain Park and enjoy!”

Lunchtime Chamber Bites are short, free concerts featuring performances and discussion with the artists.

The Family Concert and Market Music concerts also are free, as are several other events.

All rehearsals are free and open to the public.

Venues for concerts and rehearsals range from local churches to Washington College to the Kent Cultural Alliance’s Raimond Cultural Center, and more.

For more information on concert and rehearsal schedules, see

For apprentices, the National Music Festival advances the lives and careers of these promising musicians by providing access to world-class mentors and performance opportunities.

Apprentices are chosen in a highly competitive process and attend the festival on scholarship, free of charge.

The National Music Festival is a true community effort as Chestertown area residents open their homes as host families for apprentices and mentors, and Emmanuel Church in downtown Chestertown provides free lunches for the musicians on weekdays.

The National Music Festival is supported in part by the Maryland State Arts Council ( and the Kent Cultural Alliance (

For more information, visit the website at, email or call 443-480-0221.

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