The National Music Festival at Washington College brings together inspiring mentors and the next generation of gifted musicians, providing education, scholarships and affordable, adventurous public performances.
The Festival, a division of OuterArts Maryland, Inc., combines world-class mentor musicians and gifted pre-professional apprentice musicians for an intense Festival experience the first two weeks of each June. All apprentices receive full scholarships and housing in private homes. The two groups rehearse and perform side by side in orchestral, chamber, solo recital, choral and chamber opera repertoire. In two weeks, these musicians present over 30 concerts and over 200 free open rehearsals for music lovers from around the world.
Since March 2013, the National Music Festival has been the National Music Festival at Washington College. This partnership has created a truly unique working relationship with one of the premiere American orchestral training programs and a private liberal arts college.
OuterArts Maryland, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization, also operates The Phanos Project (founded to promote and perform the music of Cypriot composer Phanos Dymiotis, who lived in Baltimore and performed often in Kent County) and the Fiddlesticks! Youth Strings Program. Other projects currently being planned include additional youth programs (to include music lessons, a youth orchestra, an instrument loan program and a summer music camp), a winter strings workshop for college and graduate musicians, and several workshops to take place during the Festival, including a chamber music workshop for adult amateur musicians.
Each year the Festival serves approximately 110 apprentices and employs approximately 30 mentors (including the Artistic and Executive Directors, who also teach). Musicians come to the Festival each year from more than 15 countries and 30 U.S. states. The average age of apprentices is 22, although some are older and have already completed their advanced degrees and have begun their careers.
Concerts and free open rehearsals take place in a variety of venues including churches, theaters, art galleries, local businesses, and even an auto repair garage! In addition to its performances, open rehearsals and broadcasts on National Public Radio, the National Music Festival will record compact discs to be distributed globally. Current recording projects include the music of Phanos Dymiotis and music for orchestra with narration (Liane Hansen, narrator).
The Festival’s performances and pre-concert talks provide affordably priced entertainment and education to its patrons, including children. All rehearsals are free and open to the public. Attending rehearsals is a particularly good way to introduce young children to concert music.
The National Music Festival is based on the concept developed and implemented by Richard Rosenberg twenty years ago as the Hot Springs Music Festival in Arkansas. The Hot Springs Music Festival, with Maestro Rosenberg conducting, recorded six compact discs for Naxos Records. All six recordings feature American music, and two were nominated for Grammy Awards.
The words of an alumna sum up her experience at the National Music Festival:
My first experience at NMF was a fantastic experience. Not only was the repertoire incredible, and the schedule packed, but everyone involved was dedicated to the cause of creating beautiful music for the community. I learned more about playing in orchestra in two weeks than I have in any other program.
I hope to recreate that experience this year . I am very excited for the repertoire you have chosen, especially Mahler 5, Rite of Spring, and Brahms 4. Performing these works are a trumpet player’s dream!
This year, I will take even more initiative in preparing the orchestral and chamber music material. I would love to perform as often as I can in the Chestertown community, and experience all that Chestertown has to offer!