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Amelia Islander

Fulfilling Its Mission

Apr 02, 2019 11:31AM
The Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival celebrates its season finale on April 26 with Anne Akiko Meyers, violin, and Jason Vieaux, guitarist, at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. But, despite the end of the concert season, the party’s never over at the offices of the AICMF. “Music education for concert audiences, students, and aspiring young musicians has been a core mission of the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival since our founding in 2001,” says Executive Director Dr. Joseph Marasco. “Our new Spring Institute and ongoing Strings Education Program take the festival back to its roots, as a means to educate and to bring chamber music into the mainstream.”

Working closely with Artistic Director Christopher Rex, board members, musicians, and the community, AICMF has received a $10,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant for the 2019 year to support a Strings Education Program through the Boys and Girls Clubs of Nassau County. A generous donor couple has provided a $10,000 match. Currently, three violin students and two piano students are enrolled in the program and they receive a 30-minute lesson and four 30-minute practice sessions each week. In addition to providing the instruments, the AICMF recruits and pays for the teachers in the program.

AICMF’s Beth Newdome Fellowship Artists are selected every year from the nation’s leading conservatories. These promising young artists are mentored by the professional musicians on the festival’s schedule, culminating in regular performances before festival audiences. The 2019 Beth Newdome Fellowship Artists program will be held this year at the festival’s new Spring Institute during the last week in May.

“The Beth Newdome Fellowship Artists will be members of the Balourdet Quartet and the Evermore Quartet,” says Rex. “They will be mentored by the members of the Dover Quartet —artists Joel Link, Bryan Lee, Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, and Camden Shaw—and myself. With the exception of one ticketed concert, attendance at all performances and rehearsals will be free. A generous donor has committed an annual gift of $10,000 for at least three years or for her lifetime to support the program.”

The Balourdet Quartet from Rice University features Justin DeFilippus, violin; Angela Jiye Bae, violin; Benjamin Zannoni, viola; and Russell Houston, cello. Members of the Evermore Quartet from Northwestern University include Owen Ruff, violin; Hanna Bingham, violin; Caleb Paxton, viola; and Henry Chen, cello.

The Spring Institute begins on May 28 with mentoring day with the Dover Quartet and Rex. The fellowship artists will then perform four concerts in three days: two at downtown Pocket Park, one at The Lakeside at Amelia Island, and one at Savannah Grand. On Saturday, June 1 at noon, the Hotlanta Dixieland Jazz Quartet will perform a “second line” New Orleans-style funeral procession from the Pocket Park to Parking Lot A at the foot of Centre Street, and the following day the fellowship artists will perform a ticketed concert at the Historic Nassau County Courthouse at 5 p.m.

“The purpose of the Institute is to provide a new concentrated format for the education of the Beth Newdome Fellowship Artists and also to have the festival return to its more intimate roots in downtown Fernandina Beach, where it was focused in its early days,” says Marasco.” We believe that this will provide the best of both worlds with our spectacular regular season from January through April, and the new Spring Institute in May and early June.”

The Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival was founded in 2001 by Rex, a part-time resident of Amelia Island and principal cellist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, along with a group of Fernandina Beach women who loved chamber music. Now in its 18th season, the festival has developed into one of the most prestigious events of its kind in the nation. For more information about becoming a donor, a volunteer, or to purchase tickets for upcoming concerts, visit