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Amelia Islander

Swinging into Spring: 2015 Amelia Island Chmaber Music Festival

May 20, 2015 02:10PM
The 2015 Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival (AICMF) is in full swing this spring with another slate of outstanding musical talent. AICMF’s Winter Series wowed audiences with internationally renowned artists such as Joshua Bell, who is universally considered one of the greatest violin virtuosos on the world stage today. Violinist Rachel Barton Pine opened the AICMF’s season in November, and the magic has continued with Anne Aikiko Meyers, Terry Barber, the Kruger Brothers, and many more. The AICMF Spring Series kicked off on March 29 with a concert by distinguished pianist, Anton Nel, with Christopher Rex, cello. Nel, first prize winner of the 1987 Naumburg International Piano Competition at Carnegie Hall, has an active repertoire of more than one hundred works for piano and orchestra. Considered an acclaimed Beethoven interpreter, Nel dazzled concert-goers at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church with Beethoven’s Cello Sonata, along with works by Mozart, Debussy, Chopin, and Granados. “In addition to renowned artists like Anne Akiko Meyers, the Eroica Trio, and the Dover Quartet, you will hear such emerging talent as Russian pianist Daria Rabotkina and the Beth Newdome Fellowship Artists, comprised of promising young artists from the nation’s foremost conservatories,” says Christopher Rex, AICMF’s artistic director and principal cellist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. “We are able to present such an impressive array of musical genius because the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival has become widely recognized as one of the nation’s preeminent cultural events.” Festival sponsors and underwriters are responsible for making the AICMF what it is today. This year the Rayonier Advanced Materials Foundation and CBC Bank have joined with the likes of Florida Public Utilities, RockTenn and others, to bring some of the finest chamber music in the country to Amelia Island. Dr. Joseph Marasco, AICMF’s executive director states “Our festival has attained its status because of our thousands of concert-goers, our generous sponsors and donors, and our dedicated corps of hardworking volunteers. This broad base of support makes the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival everyone’s festival.”

[heading style="subheader"]Splendor in the Brass: Free Concert in Amelia Park [/heading] On May 9 at 2 p.m., the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet will perform a free concert in Amelia Park, featuring pops and light classic works. Performing artists include Julian Kaplan, trumpet, Brian Osbourne, trumpet, Debra Fialek, horn, Jeffrey Peterson, trombone, and James Jenkins, tuba, all members of the JSO. They will present a concert of traditional light classical favorites, with works by Dukas, a Baroque trumpet concerto, and some familiar favorites from television and the movies by composers John Williams and Henry Mancini. Guests are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs, a picnic lunch, and beverages while enjoying the concert.

[heading style="subheader"]Present Meets Past with Daria Rabotkina[/heading] Russian-born pianist Daria Rabotkina won the 2007 Concert Artist Guild International Competition; she will be performing a concert called “Present Meets Past” with Christopher Rex, cello. Her career has included solo appearances with the San Francisco and New World Symphonies under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas with the Kirov Orchestra in a four-concert North American tour. Ms. Rabotkina also has given recitals at the Kennedy Center, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Concert Hall in New York, Ravinia’s “Rising Stars” recital series, and the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservancy. “Daria is a great young talent,” says Rex. “There’s a maturity in her playing, and she has a great rapport with the audience.” In addition to playing music by Bach, Beethoven, and Schumann, she is also performing an arrangement of Bizet’s Carmen, written by her father. The concert will be held at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on May 17 at 5 p.m.

[heading style="subheader"]Beth Newdome Fellowship Artists Showcase[/heading] The Beth Newdome Fellowship Artists are composed of outstanding young artists from the nation’s premier conservatories. Beth Newdome, a talented violinist and associate concert master at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with Rex, was a leader in getting the AICMF off the ground in its early years before succumbing to cancer. “Beth was always there for me,” says Rex. “She helped get this whole thing started. She was bubbly and enthusiastic about everything we were doing, and present at every festival until her passing.” This year’s artists will train with several Festival musicians; the program is part of AICMF’s ongoing educational outreach. This year’s Fellowship Artists include Jecoliah Wang, violin, Leah Latoracca, violin, Nina Bledsoe Ray, viola, Elaine Shin, cello, and Cecelia Kao, piano. This free concert will feature each artist’s individual talents performing both solos and duets. It will be held at Savannah Grand on May 19 at 1 p.m.

[heading style="subheader"]Violin and Viper: A Family Concert with Phillip Pan[/heading] Yet another free concert welcomes kids and parents to enjoy the excitement and innovation of today’s chamber music. Phillip Pan, who has been concertmaster of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra’s Plugged In and Pops series and at various clubs around town, will demonstrate the amazing characteristics of both the normal acoustic violin and the Viper electric violin. Frequently featured with the JSO, Pan has also appeared as soloist with the Boston Pops, the Albany and Schenectady Symphonies, and the Bach Aria Festival in Stony Brook, New York. He performs in recital at the Friday Musicale, the Cummer Museum, and MOCA Jacksonville, as well as with Synergy and the St. Mark’s Bach Ensemble. “Phillip is so eclectic; he has so much talent,” says Rex. “You’ll be amazed at the sound of the Viper. This concert will be so much fun for kids and their parents!” The free concert will be held at the Boys and Girls Club on May 21 at 3 p.m.

[heading style="subheader"]The Dover Quartet: Music of the Ages[/heading] The Dover Quartet catapulted to international stardom following a stunning sweep of the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition. The ensemble since has become one of the most in-demand ensembles in the world, and they will be an exciting addition to this year’s Spring Series. The New Yorker recently dubbed them the “young American string quartet of the moment,” having pulled away from their peers with their exceptional interpretive power. Members of the Dover Quartet include Joel Link, violin, Bryan Lee, violin, Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, viola, and Camden Shaw, cello. They will be performing with James Dunham, viola, and Christopher Rex, cello. “These artists are the most exciting of today’s quartets,” say Rex. “Each member of the Dover Quartet has a completely different personality, and they work so well together. The concert also features James Dunham, who has been with us since the very first season of the AICMF. He is responsible for bringing many musicians to our festival.” The group will be performing Beethoven’s Op. 18, No. 5, Tchaikovsky’s Sextet Souvenir of Florence and Ullmann’s Quartet No. 3. Ullmann’s work, a melodrama based on Rilke’s Cornet poem, was written while he was he was interned at Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II. This concert will be held at the Historic Nassau County Courthouse at 7:30 p.m.

[heading style="subheader"]Beth Newdome Fellowship Artists: The Romantic Age[/heading] The Beth Newdome Fellowship Artists will be joined by Elizabeth Pridgen, piano, who has amassed a distinguished career as a soloist and chamber musician. She has recently been appointed the G. Leslie Chair of Music at Mercer University. Recent concerts include appearances at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, the Tilles Center on Long Island, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, and the “Rising Stars” series” at the Ravinia Festival. Ms. Pridgen has also performed at Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, and the Kosciuszko Foundation, and in recitals in Washington D.C., Aruba, Curaçao, and throughout the Southeast. For seven consecutive seasons, she has been a featured performer at the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival. “Elizabeth has been with us since the beginning of the festival,” says Rex. “She began as one of our fellowship artists. It’s been a pleasure to watch her mature into the talented artist she has become.” The Fellowship Artists and Pridgen will be performing the music of Brahams, Dvorak, Schubert, and Franck. The concert will be held at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church at 7:30 p.m.

[heading style="subheader"]Closing Gala with the Eroica Trio[/heading] One of the most sought-after trios in the world, the Grammy-nominated Eroica Trio is on the vanguard of a new generation of artists. The first all-female chamber ensemble to reach the top echelon of its field, the trio thrills audiences with flawless technical virtuosity, irresistible enthusiasm, and sensual elegance. Whether playing the great standards of the piano trio repertoire or daring contemporary works, the three young women who make up this celebrated ensemble electrify the concert stage with their passionate performances. The Eroica Trio features Erika Nickrenz, piano, Sara Parkins, violin, and Sara Sant’Ambrogio, cello. They will be accompanied by Christopher Rex, cello, performing the music of Barriere, Smetana, Bach, and Schoenfield. The Closing Gala will be held at the magnificent ballroom of The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. There will be a cash bar before the 6 p.m. concert, followed by a post-concert “Dutch treat” dinner for concert goers, if they wish to attend. Attendees are encouraged to meet the members of the Eroica Trio as they sign CDs for sale at the gala.

Founded in 2001, the nationally acclaimed Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival promotes public appreciation and education about chamber music throughout the year on Amelia Island and in the greater Jacksonville area. For more information about the concerts, artists, and to purchase tickets, call (904) 261-1779 or visit