Communique: Bach(s), Brahms, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Dvorak, Shostakovich...Port City Music Fest #9

May 31, 2017

Cellist Stephen Framil is the Music Director of the Port City Music Festival
Credit Stephen Framil

The first notes for the 9th Annual Port City Music Festival will ring out on Sunday, June 4, kicking off more than 7 performances over 8 days-over 30 pieces of music. Tickets are not needed for the performances-except Kenan Chapel at Landfall because of space-and all performances are free. The Kenan Chapel at Landfall tickets are available at the Northeast Library (they go fast). Here is the basic performance schedule; see the full schedule, including pieces and performers, here

  • Sunday, 6/4 @ 5:00pm at Kenan Chapel at Landfall. Tickets (free) are required for this event, available at the Northeast Branch of the New Hanover County Library. Music of Beethoven and Bach.
  • Monday, 6/5 at Windemere Presbyterian. @ 4:30pm Masterclass. @ 7:30pm performance of Brahms and Bach.
  • Tuesday, 6/6 at B'Nai Israel. @ 4:30pm Masterclass. @ 7:30 performance of Bach and Mendelssohn. 
  • Thursday, 6/8 @ Cameron Art Museum. 7:00pm performance of Bach and Shostakovich.
  • Friday, 6/9 @ WHQR. Noon performance (bring your lunch). @ Beckwith Recital Hall, 7:30pm performance of J.S. & A.M. Bach and Schubert.
  • Saturday, 6/10 @ Dreams Garage. 12:30pm performance of Handel, Bach, and Dvorak.
  • Sunday, June 11 @ 1st Presbyterian (3rd Street). 5:00pm performance of Handel, Bach, and Dvorak.
    Previous Festival performance at Beckwith Recital Hall.
    Credit Port City Music Festival

Extended interview transcript with Christine Farley, co-founder and Director of Operations, and Lynn Herndon, Director of Communications/Development:

Christine Farley: It's actually support for classical music to offer a weeklong festival of free music to Wilmington and surrounding areas. And so that's it. It's accessible to everyone. We don't charge. We raise our money through grants and contributions.

 

Lynn Herndon: And some of the musicians, most of them, come from Philadelphia and they're part of a group called Camerata Philadelphia. So Stephen Framil is the music director. He's also a cellist. And he brings with him every year usually a pianist and Mezzo Soprano and a violinist, and sometimes a clarinetist. They form the core group of musicians. But we also have local musicians who are known to Stephen who are invited to come in to form various configurations of music, like chamber music, and then we have even a chamber orchestra. So we can we can have larger numbers of people or smaller numbers of people depending on what they're playing.

 

Christine: And in addition to being free concerts, we also conduct free masterclasses. So we'll have two sessions of masterclasses, the one at Windermere Presbyterian on Eastwood and then another one at the synagogue, B'nai Israel synagogue. So that's really nice offering for the young people.

 

Lynn: And they are so much fun to watch because they're students from age 6 and up to age 22 let's say, various levels of skills from very basic to very polished, but they play a short piece and then they're critiqued by the master and he/she takes them through how to play it better. And by the end they've improved. And it's only 15 minutes per student. So it's quite fun to watch.

 

Christine: It's wonderful.

 

Gina: I think a master class can be one of those fundamental lightning bolts that happens to you. So tell me about the works that are selected for the festival.

 

Lynn: This year we have such a variety of music to share. There's a lot of Bach this year. One piece that Stephen will be doing is solo cello piece. Those are beautiful and he does them really well. There's also a Bach piano trio, there's a quartet, there's a sonata, a cantata, and a concerto so they're spread out evenly across the week. So if you come to one concert, you're always going to hear Bach. You can be sure. There's also a Beethoven Piano Trio. In fact it's the famous Ghost Piano Trio. There's Schubert lieder, a Handel concerto and a Dvorak string serenade, as well as two very big pieces that are being played this year. One is the Brahms Piano Quintet, which Brahms called the crown of his chamber music works. And the other is Schubert's Trout Piano Quintet. And that's being played Friday at Beckwith.

 

Christine: The opera, which is the first, it's a 30 minute comedic opera on the coffee opera-cantata. It's the first time we've done a small opera ever in nine years. So it's only 30 minutes and it's going to be sung in English. So I think that it's going to be a very exciting addition to the music festival this year.

 

Lynn: A very famous Bach piece, truly about a young girl's diction to coffee and her negotiation with her father--the man that she marries has to allow her to drink coffee or else she will turn into a piece of roast goat.

 

Christine: So I think that's going to be really enjoyable, it's going to be sung in English.. It'll be at first Presbyterian on Sunday night the 11th of June, and that's at 5:00 in the afternoon.

 

Lynn: The performances start on June 4th and that afternoon is Kenan Chapel. And if you want to come to that performance, you need to pick up a ticket at the Northeast branch of the New Hanover library starting on Tuesday, May 30th at 9:00 in the morning. It's a small space and the tickets will go fast and they're free. But you need to have a ticket.

 

Christine: Just for a fire code, we can only fit so many, but the rest of the festival there's no need for a ticket.

 

Lynn: It's all free and the spaces are large.

 

Christine Farley (l) & Lynn Herndon
Credit WHQR/gg

Christine: The other new thing we have is a harpsichord this year at the synagogue which is really exciting. I think we have eight musicians playing at the synagogue and the harpsichord is going to be played by Daniel Lau and also John Tabler, who is the music director at First Presbyterian. The harpsichord will be featured in a Bach concerto and also in the Mendelssohn String Octet at the synagogue.

 

Gina: It's feels like it's more [than previous years]...

 

Christine: It does feel like it's more. Well, it's about as much as we can handle right now. There really isn't any time because you have to factor in all of the practice sessions you know through the week. I think they only have a little window on Wednesday, so if we maintain and keep that  open at least I'll be able to take a nap. But we're busy every night, you know these musicians work like crazy. Lovely thing about it is we have host families. They all stay with local families in Wilmington that have opened their doors to these musicians from out of town and have taken ownership of this festival. And that's just a wonderful thing because it's for us, it's for our community.

 

Lynn: It's seven concerts in 8 days. So Wednesday is the only day that we do not have a concert. And if you come to every concert you will be replete by the end of the week. That's pretty pretty fantastic.

 

Christine: We usually have a group that follows us, you know, follows the musicians around and it's gotten really popular over the years. The classical groupies.

 

Gina: Tell me-you've stated this before, Chris- about the philosophy about why this is a free festival.

 

Christine: Well, Gina, to tell you the truth, you know I had never studied classical music, and I love it and I wanted to learn more. And I took up the cello, and in one of the workshops I went to I met Stephen. And the more I learned about classical music, the more I enriched my own personal life. And I really thought there was a lot of people that have never experienced it or kind of closed their mind to classical music and I thought, I'd love to have this in Wilmington. And we looked into it and there are no summer music classical festivals in Wilmington, and then many of the surrounding towns,they have one. We thought well, it's a need and you know, it's really more for just appreciation of classical music. And so it stays alive. And we're doing what we can do.

 

Lynn: All of the concerts are supported by grants and donations including from many individuals but also from the Landfall Foundation and the North Carolina Arts Council and the Arts Council of Wilmington.

 

Gina: Of course folks can always give donations at every concert if they like.

2016 Festival performance at the Cameron Art Museum
Credit Port City Music Festival

Lynn: Yes, we have a basket that can put whatever they want in the basket.

 

Christine: And they can donate online too. There's all kinds of ways, we take credit cards online or anywhere they want to support musicians would be great.

 Transcript by PopUpArchive.com