Concert series begins Thursday

Under the direction of Jeffrey Kahane, festival runs through June 23

Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236
Friday Festivals and Saturday Symphonies will be at the Sarasota Opera House on N. Pineapple Ave.

Today is the official start of the Sarasota Music Festival, three weeks of classical music that attracts fans, 60 students and 40 masters from around the world. Now in its 54th year, the excitement runs high with 50 classic works packed into 12 performances, Thursday through Sunday in each of the weeks. These programs are designed so that no two are alike, giving you a choice of your favorite concerts or an opportunity to see them all with completely different programs each night.

Mondays through Wednesdays, the students learn from the masters in hopes that someday they will achieve master status. These gifted students from 10 different countries auditioned for the privilege of learning and performing the classics. In the morning you may catch a glimpse of these young artists walking the streets of downtown Sarasota as they trek to their assigned classrooms. They are recognizable carrying wind or stringed instrument cases. It all begins today.

But it really began when over 500 musicians from schools around the globe auditioned for the 60 spots of the festival, designated as the Official Teaching and Performing Festival of the State of Florida by the legislature in 1984. Their talent will be observed in three Rising Star ensembles the first two Sundays of the festival and Thursday of the final week at 3 PM in Holley Hall. Tickets are wonderfully priced at $10 for each recital by calling (941) 953-3434 or by visiting the Sarasota Orchestra website.

The masters assemble for symphonies and chamber music Thursday through Saturday. Love Songs on Thursday starting at 4:30 PM is the first Artist Showcase in the pleasant Holley Hall chamber with general admission and balcony seating. Four pieces will be performed, a Quintet for Piano and Wind Instruments, an early work by Beethoven will open the performance. Poems by Toni Morrison were set to music by composer Andre Previn in Four Songs. The program will conclude with compositions of romance for the piano and viola.

Brilliantly Baroque opens the first of three Friday Festivals, four programs of chamber music from two of the Baroque master composers, Back and Vivaldi. Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C Minor, BWV 1060 and Keyboard Concerto in F Major with two Obbligato Flutes, BWV 1057 are interspersed with Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Cellos in G Minor, RV 531 and Summer from The Four Seasons, RV 315. The Friday Festival concerts begin at 8 PM in the Sarasota Opera House.

The festival continues in the opera house on Saturday with full symphonic background to one of the finest young violinists, Angelo Xiang Yu, performing Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26. It is the second concerto of the evening in the program Afternoon of a Faun. The program begins with its prelude by composer Debussy and concludes with a Mozart symphony composition No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543.

Rising Stars - Scholarships for Sarasota Music Festival
Rising Stars — Scholarships were offered to 60 students among the 500 musicians who auditioned for the 2018 Sarasota Music Festival. They will perform in the Rising Stars series and ensembles of acclaimed professionals throughout the festival.

Following the Rising Star program on Sunday, it’s back to the classroom leading up to the next round on June 14, Musical Treasures in the Artist Showcase 2. Mozart combined the piano with stringed instrument for the opening of chamber music in the Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major, K. 493. Wind instruments follow in Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles while a memorial to victims of the Holocaust concludes the program, Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 67 by Shotakovich.

Appalachian Spring is a four-part program for the second Friday Festival on June 15. The full symphony is brought together for the opener, La création du monde, Op. 81, a composition by Milhaud on the Creation of the World. Copland’s Appalachian Spring is followed by a Jonathon Spivey piano solo, Norwegian Peasant Dances, Op. 72 composition by Grieg. The evening ends with a String Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 97 concerto by Dvorak.

An Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op. 34 composed by Prokofiev in 1919 leads the Influence and Individuality Saturday Symphony 2 on June 16. Vijay Venkatesh follows with a solo performance of Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22 by Saint-Saens, followed by Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C Major, Op. 48.

In the Artist Showcase 3, Life’s Passions is a four-part program on June 21 featuring piano recitals by Robert Levin and Jeffrey Kahane in two of Schubert’s compositions, Allegro in A Minor, D 947 and Rondo in A Major, D. 951. The evening begins with a Gieseking composition, Sonatine and concludes with Beethoven’s Piano Trio No. 5 in D Major, Op. 70 No. 1.

The Friday Festival winds down the series with the Summer Serenades program. This three-part concert on June 22 combines Serenade in C Major, Op. 10 by Dohnanyi, Serenade No. 11 in E-flat Major, K. 375 by Mozart and a Brahms composition Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25, nicknamed Gypsy.

Holley Hall at the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center, 709 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236
Artist Showcases and the Rising Star student series will be held at Holley Hall each week of the festival.

Luminous Bodies, a work commissioned for Robert Sirota by the Sarasota Music Festival makes its world premiere in the final Saturday Symphony as a grand finale to the festival. Luminous Bodies was composed for a Generation Y ensemble of musicians aptly named yMusic, a popular program which made its debut in the festival last year. Kahane begins the program with Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat, K. 595 by Mozart while conducting from the piano. The grand finale to the evening and the festival is Schumann’s composition Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 97.

The entire series of concerts is under the direction of Kahane, now in his second year as the music director of the festival. He succeeds Levine and Paul Wolfe, the only other directors who have guided the program since its beginnings in 1965. Levine will give a lecture on music, June 20 at 1:30 PM in Holley Hall. Enjoy the festival.

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