Adaptability. Ingenuity. Creativity. Malleability. Flexibility. This acrostic not only spells Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, it employs the words that have shaped 2020. “All of us have been required to reset and be resilient concerning our lives and our plans,” says Emma Bledsoe, AICMF Board President. “Our plans have had to be adjusted and readjusted. But, like everyone else this year, we are persevering and will continue to do so.”
The Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival pressed forward by providing some virtual performances on their website at www.AICMF.com. The Christiania Trio’s full concert, featuring the music of Schumann and Mendelssohn, presented in fall of 2020, was performed before a small, socially-distanced audience.
“Please know that as we continue to press forward, the Festival will continue!” exclaims Bledsoe. “And it will continue in adapted, ingenious, creative, malleable, and flexible ways that will not only keep us safe and healthy, but it will continue to provide the source of hope, comfort, and enjoyment that we all so desperately need.”
The Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival announces a host of exciting concerts for 2021, their 20th season. The line-up of international and national musical stars, as well as local artists, are scheduled to perform concerts both live in island venues and virtually for the safety of both musicians and audiences. Beginning in January, the acclaimed Dover String Quartet opens the season, which extends through twelve spectacular concerts and concludes in April.
“It is exciting to present this season with both social distancing and online concerts because the pandemic has taught us, in the performing arts, how indispensable the audience is,” states Christopher Rex, AICMF General and Artistic Director. “The composer writes music, and we spend our lives learning how to bring the music to life. But without people to express it to, we have no mission.”
A wide array of internationally recognized and award-winning superstars from multiple genres are performing this year, including Festival newcomers like violin virtuoso Midori and the New York Philharmonic String Quartet with Drew Petersen. Returning favorites include Pinchas Zukerman with the Zukerman Trio, charismatic pianist Valentina Lisitsa, and concert violinists Robert McDuffie and Chee Yun Kim.
“Hosting these artists reflects our growing status as one of the nation’s premier classical music festivals,” says Rex. “The ability to grace our stages with such internationally renowned artists is a testimony to the strength and support of our valued contributors, ticket-buyers, and volunteers.”
THE AMELIA ISLAND CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL AND MUSIC EDUCATION
Beginning with its inaugural year, the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival knew the importance of music education. Master Classes and tutoring for their Young Resident Artists program played an important role in the Festival’s first concert season. This program has not only thrived, but it has continued and expanded to become The Spring Institute. Here, the Beth Newdome Fellowship Artists, promising and acclaimed students from the nation’s leading conservatories and universities, are mentored by professional musicians and AICMF’s quartet-in-residence, The Dover Quartet. This training program culminates in a series of public performances, most of which are free of charge.
Committed to education, the Festival recognizes that students and audiences benefit and learn from attending Master Classes. Therefore, while here to perform their concerts, the Dover Quartet will conduct a free Master Class for young artists who are currently attending Jacksonville area schools and universities. Attendance by all who love to listen and learn is encouraged.
In addition, partnering with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Nassau County, AICMF has developed a Strings Education Program, providing instruments and lessons for a five-day-a week learning experience. Student recitals, as well as performances by professional musicians, have been presented at the Miller Freedom Center and the Roberts Learning and Achievement Center. These programs will resume when the current Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
The Young Patrons of the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival invite dynamic young adults between the ages of 21 and 50 to join their party! The Young Patrons are an energetic group with a love of music and a desire to mingle and network. Young Patrons enjoy discounted tickets to a concert, preceded or followed by a party for one price that’s all inclusive. The program was first launched by a group of local young women who were the hosts of a cocktail party preceding the popular Wynton Marsalis Concert. Visit www.AICMF.com for more information on how to join.
THE DOVER STRING QUARTET IN AN ONLINE VIRTUAL CONCERT
The Dover String Quartet kicks off the 20th season with an online virtual concert on Sunday, January 31. The Dover, AICMF’s quartet-in-residence, is one of the most in-demand ensembles in the world. The first-ever quartet-in-residence for the Kennedy Center, and the recipient of the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Dover is also quartet-in-residence for the prestigious Curtis Institute of School of Music in Philadelphia; they were the former quartet-residence for the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, Chamber Music Northwest, Artosphere, and Peoples’ Symphony in New York.
The quartet’s distinctive sound has helped confirm its status as the one of the finest young American string quartets of their generation. The quartet will be joined by acclaimed composer and performer Edgar Meyer, bassist, on March 26.
NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC STRING QUARTET AND PIANIST DREW PETERSEN
On Valentine’s Day, February 14, don’t miss another spectacular online virtual concert by the New York Philharmonic String Quartet with exciting young pianist, Drew Petersen. The New York Philharmonic String Quartet is comprised of four Principal musicians from the Orchestra. The group, formed in January 2017, made its debut as the solo ensemble in John Adams’s Absolute Jest in New York in March 2017.
All four members are multiple prize winners, have appeared as concerto soloists with the Philharmonic and orchestras around the world, and have appeared frequently in the Philharmonic’s chamber music series at David Geffen Hall and Merkin Hall.
Acclaimed young American pianist Drew Petersen is a sought-after soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician in the United States, Europe, and Asia. He has been praised for his commanding and poetic performances of a repertoire ranging from Bach to Zaimont, and he is the recipient of the 2018 Avery Fisher Career Grant, 2017 American Pianists Award, and the Christel DeHaan Fellow of the American Pianists Association, as well as a residency at the University of Indianapolis.
BEER & G-STRINGS RETURNS AT THE SADLER RANCH
On Sunday, March 14, the AICMF brings back the favorite festival series, “Beer & G-Strings.” This fun collaborative concert, entitled “The Four Seasons,” will be held at the Sadler Ranch concert stage and will feature the Christiania Trio, as well as violinist Chee Yun Kim, cellist Andres Diaz, and pianist Wendy Chen, in an exciting performance of Vivaldi’s famous “Spring” and “Winter” Concertos, as well as Tango composer Astor Piazzolla’s “Summer” and “Autumn” Tangos for Piano Trio in a not-to-be-missed “Battle of the Bands.”
THE ZUKERMAN TRIO AND THE DOVER QUARTET
The Zukerman Trio returns to Amelia Island by popular demand on Sunday March 21 at the First Baptist Church. With a celebrated career spanning five decades, Pinchas Zukerman reigns as one of today’s most sought-after and versatile musicians as a violin and viola soloist, conductor, and chamber musician. He launched his trio in 2013, and since then, the ensemble has traveled around the globe and performed at such major festivals as Ravinia, the BBC Proms, Edinburgh, Verbier, and the “Bravo! Vail” Music Festival.
The Dover Quartet performs a second concert with string bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer on March 26 at the Amelia Baptist Church. In demand as both a performer and a composer, Meyer has formed a role in the music world unlike any other. His unparalleled technique and musicianship, in combination with his gift for composition, have brought him to the forefront, where he is appreciated by a vast, varied audience. His uniqueness in the field was recognized by a MacArthur Award in 2002. Meyer’s past collaborations include many festival favorites such as Joshua Bell, Béla Fleck, Yo-Yo Ma, and Chris Thile.
The next day on March 27, the Dover Quartet will hold a Master Class with promising young musicians at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. This exciting opportunity to see the process of teaching the art of musical performance to aspiring young students is free and open to the public.
VIOLIN VIRTUOSO MIDORI AND VALENTINA LISITSA
World-renowned violin virtuoso and prodigy Midori will perform a fantastic program on Friday, April 9 at the First Baptist Church featuring the music of Mozart, Grieg, and the monumental violin sonata of French composer Caesar Franck. A visionary artist, activist, and educator, Midori has a unique career which transcends traditional boundaries through her relentless drive to explore and build connections between music and the human experience.
A leading concert violinist for over 35 years, Midori regularly transfixes audiences around the world, bringing together graceful precision and intimate expression that allows the listening public to not just hear music but to be personally moved by it.
On Sunday, April 18, piano virtuoso Valentina Lisitsa, known as “The Queen of Rachmaninoff,” returns to the Festival this year. With more than 83 million YouTube views, Lisitsa is one of the most-watched classical musicians on the internet. An Amelia Island favorite, Valentina is at ease with a vast repertoire, ranging from Bach and Mozart to Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, and Bernstein. Her orchestral repertoire includes more than 40 concertos.
A TRIBUTE TO FESTIVAL FAVORITE LYNN HARRELL
To celebrate the 20th season of the Festival and to pay tribute to the memory of renowned cellist and beloved Festival favorite Lynn Harrell, a collaborative concert entitled “Scherzando” will be presented at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island on Sunday, April 25.
This concert will feature stars from the Festival’s twenty successful seasons and friends and colleagues of Harrell. Artists will include violinists Robert McDuffie, Amy Moretti, Helen Nightengale, and Giora Schmidt, violists James Dunham and Nokuthula Ngwenyama, cellists Zuill Bailey and Christopher Rex, and pianist Elizabeth Pridgen. They will perform virtuoso works of Beethoven, Brahms, Wieniawski, Schubert, and end with the Scherzo and Finale of Felix Mendelssohn’s great Octet.
SWINGING JAZZ AND A PERFORMANCE OF PETER AND THE WOLF
If jazz is your style, join JB Scott’s “Swingin’ Allstars” featuring vocalist Lisa Kelly in a free open to the public concert at Main Beach on Saturday, May 8. JB Scott and Lisa Kelly have performed internationally for major festivals, jazz clubs, and jazz societies as featured soloists with big bands, and with their own big band and small groups. They are highly regarded adjudicators and guest artist/clinicians for secondary to collegiate music programs, competitions and music camps, and have co-produced six successful CDs. JB Scott is Director of Jazz Studies at the prestigious University of North Florida Jazz Studies Program.
For the young, and the young-at-heart, Peter and the Wolf will be staged and performed for children on Saturday, May 23, sponsored by the AICMF’s Young Patrons. Considered a symphonic fairy tale for children and written by Sergei Prokofiev, it is the composer’s most frequently performed work. Peter and the Wolf will be performed as a four-hand piano concert by Julie Coucheron and Elizabeth Pridgen, accompanied by dancers under the direction of Susie Dodge from the Amelia Island Dance Festival and narrated by popular local actor Frank O’Donnell. Two performances will be presented at the Amelia Community Theater’s Tom and Sally Henderson Auditorium.
BLUEGRASS ENSEMBLE BALSAM RANGE AT THE SADLER RANCH
On May 23, the Festival will present the final concert of their 20th anniversary season with the popular bluegrass ensemble, Balsam Range. 2018 International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year, Balsam Range has become one of the genre’s most award-winning acts.
Since forming in 2007, the group has garnered 13 IBMA awards on the heels of 8 critically acclaimed albums. The performers have left audiences spellbound while headlining major festivals from coast-to-coast, selling out venues across the nation, and in multiple appearances at the Grand Ole Opry. The concert will take place on the Sadler Ranch auditorium stage.
The Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival has been presenting the world’s greatest artists and providing music education for promising young students since their founding in 2001. “The ability to bring to Amelia Island the greatest musical artists in the world has only been possible through the exceptional generosity of our individual and corporate sponsors, the dedication of our Board of Directors, volunteers, and staff, and the enthusiastic support of our audiences,” declares the festival’s General and Artistic Director Christopher Rex. “I am so grateful for all who have worked so hard to help present this fantastic 20th season celebration in a safe and responsible way during these challenging times.”
“Music truly soothes the soul,” observes Board of Directors President Emma Bledsoe. “And through this extraordinary group of musicians we hope you will be refreshed and inspired, particularly as we look forward to a healthy New Year!”
Performance dates and times are subject to change. Please visit www.AICMF.com for the latest information and concert updates. Tickets for all concerts are available online or by calling (904) 261-1779.