Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival

Now under the leadership of Artistic Director William Ransom, the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival presents an outstanding 23rd season of world-class music and events.

Now in its 23rd season, the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival has developed into one of the most prestigious events of its kind in the nation. Sue Braddock, president of the festival’s Board of Directors says, “We have some amazing concerts scheduled between January and June this year. Choose between string quartets, other classical ensembles, bluegrass, a children’s concert featuring music and dance, or brass in Central Park. Our concerts are held in venues all over the island, and we believe there is a concert just right for you. Following our mission to bring ‘world-class music and musicians to our community,’ we look forward to welcoming you to one of our concerts this year!”

“Our funding is raised through generous contributions from individuals, in addition to corporate sponsors and foundation grants,” says Executive Director Nina Knight. “These include Florida Arts and Culture (sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the National Endowment for the Arts), the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council, Arts and Culture Nassau, and generous corporate contributions from First Federal Bank, WestRock, and others.” The festival also receives generous support from individual contributors, patrons, and volunteers.

“MEET THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR” AT PRINCE OF PEACE LUTHERAN CHURCH
The 2023 festival kicks off with a special concert titled, “Meet the Artistic Director,” featuring pianist William Ransom, the successor to AICMF’s founder, Christopher Rex, who passed away in March 2022. Ransom is the Mary Emerson Professor of Piano at Emory University, the founder and Artistic Director of the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta, and the Artistic Director of the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival.

Come and meet Ransom, along with his wife, violist Yinzi Kong, a founding member of the international award-winning Vega Quartet, as they perform the music of Debussy, Franck, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in the original solo piano version.

“Coincidentally, this is the 100th anniversary of Rhapsody in Blue, composed by Gershwin in 1924, which was a key composition that defined the Jazz Age,” says Ransom. “Yinzi and I look forward to meeting concertgoers and presenting these very special musical works.” The concert will be held on January 14 at 5 p.m. at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.

“THE MAGIC OF MOZART” WITH THE DOVER QUARTET AT THE RITZ-CARLTON, AMELIA ISLAND
On January 19 at 7 p.m., you’ll hear “The Magic of Mozart,” featuring the Dover Quartet, always a festival favorite, along with master clarinetist David Shifrin and pianist William Ransom, for Mozart’s timeless Clarinet Quintet, as well as the composer’s Piano Quartet in G Minor. The concert will be held at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.

The two-time Grammy-nominated Dover Quartet is one of the world’s most in-demand chamber ensembles. The Dover Quartet is the Penelope P. Watkins Ensemble in Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music and holds additional residencies at Northwestern University and the Artosphere Festival. It is considered one of the greatest string quartets in the last 100-years. They have also appeared in previous years at the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival as its Quartet- in-Residence.

Winner of both the Avery Fisher Career Grant (1987) and the Avery Fisher Prize (2000), David Shifrin is in constant demand as an orchestral soloist, recitalist, and chamber music collaborator. He’s also the longtime Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Chamber Music Northwest.

“THE FAMILY CONCERT” AND THE JERRY DOUGLAS BAND
On February 3 at 3 p.m. in the Fernandina Beach Middle School Auditorium, the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival presents a concert for all ages: “The Family Concert,” in Music and Dance, featuring the enchanting musical tales, Paddington Bear’s First Concert and The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Sponsored by the Young Patrons of the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, this delightful afternoon is narrated by Kevin Fitzgerald and features pianist Julie Coucheron, cellist Charae Krueger, oboist Alexandra Prior, violinist Chris Chappel, and Yinzi Kong on viola. The dancers are choreographed by Susan Dodge, director of the Amelia Island Dance Festival.

If you’re a fan of bluegrass, you won’t want to miss the Jerry Douglas Band, coming to The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, on February 25 at 5 p.m. Dobro master and 15-time Grammy winner Jerry Douglas is a bandleader, producer, session musician, instructor, and a very funny guy! He has produced over one hundred albums and he’s featured on over 1,600 studio albums. He’s a member of Alison Krauss & Union Station, and co-bandleader for Transatlantic Sessions in the United Kingdom. Douglas’ band members include Daniel Kimbro, Christian Sedelmyer, and Mike Seal.

“SIBLING RIVALRY” AT PRINCE OF PEACE LUTHERAN CHURCH
Many concertgoers may not realize that chamber music artists often have brothers and sisters who are noteworthy musicians in their own right. If you’ve ever experienced sibling rivalry with your own sibling, imagine what that would be like put to music on stage!

The AICMF presents a very special concert entitled “Sibling Rivalry” on March 9 at 5 p.m. at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. Three pairs of extraordinary musical siblings —Andres and Roberto Diaz; Helen and Michael Kim, and Kate and William Ransom—showcase the special musical bond that siblings experience, both on and off stage. Dvorak’s sparkling Piano Quintet is featured.

AUTHOR RITA DOVE AT STORY AND SONG CENTER FOR ARTS & CULTURE AND “SONATA MULATTICA” AT PRINCE OF PEACE LUTHERAN CHURCH
On Friday, April 5 at 5 p.m., come meet the author Rita Dove at Story and Song Center for Arts & Culture. Rita Dove, the former U.S. Poet Laureate (1993–1995), won the Pulitzer Prize for her third book of poetry, Thomas and Beulah, in 1987. Her latest poetry collection, Playlist for the Apocalypse, was published in 2021. She received the 1996 National Humanities Medal from President Clinton and the 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Obama. The event is free, but you must register to attend.

This event is prologue to a concert held the next evening, on Saturday, April 6, also at 5 p.m., titled “Sonata Mulattica.” Rita Dove will read from her award-winning true tale of the volatile and dramatic relationship between the black violinist George Bridgewater and Beethoven, which resulted in the composer’s iconic “Kreutzer” Sonata. Violinist Njioma Grevious, recent winner of both the Concert Artists Guild and Sphinx Competitions, performs the Beethoven with pianist William Ransom. “Sonata Mulattica” will be held at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.

JULLIARD STRING QUARTET, CELLIST ZUILL BAILEY, AND THE ARIEL QUARTET
On April 14 at 5 p.m., the AICMF welcomes the Julliard String Quartet to perform at Amelia Plantation Chapel. With unparalleled artistry and enduring vigor, the Julliard String Quartet continues to inspire audiences around the world. Founded in 1946 and hailed as the most important American quartet in history, the ensemble draws on a deep and vital engagement to the classics, while embracing the mission of championing new works—a vibrant combination of the familiar and the daring.

If you’re looking for a true “CelloBration!” join Grammy Award-Winning cellist Zuill Bailey as he leads a crack ensemble of 7-cellists in a celebration of the life and work of Christopher Rex, beloved founder of the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival. A special transcription of Tchaikovsky’s brilliant “Rococo Variations” will be featured. This concert will be held on Sunday, April 25 at 5 p.m. at Amelia Plantation Chapel.

On May 29 at 5 p.m., the Ariel Quartet, winners of the prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award, makes their festival debut in an entertaining program of duos, trios, and quartets by Beethoven in a fun setting at the Mocama Beer Company. Enjoy a brew or other favorite beverage while the Ariel Quartet dazzles you with their virtuosity at this very special “Beethoven and Beer” concert!

CHRISTOPHER REX STRING SEMINAR CONCERT AT PRINCE OF PEACE LUTHERAN CHURCH
The AICMF is pleased to present for its final concert of its 23rd season, the Christopher Rex String Seminar Concert featuring the Rasa Quartet and Rose Quartet. This concert also showcases AICMF’s faculty quartet, the Ariel Quartet. Catch two rising star string quartets, the festival’s Beth Newdome Fellows, featured in concert along with the distinguished Ariel Quartet, culminating with both quartets playing Mendelssohn’s miraculous Octet for Strings together. The concert will be held Saturday, June 1, at 3 p.m. at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.

More than ever this year, the festival provides initiatives and education to students and all lovers of chamber music. In collaboration with Nassau County Council on Aging (NCCOA), the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival has been thrilled to launch a multigenerational strings class. Participants meet each week to work in a fun and unique string orchestra ensemble.

Participants include people of all ages who want to learn to play, or already play, violin, viola, cello, or double bass. The class is offered to people 11-years-old and up on Wednesday afternoons from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. at NCCOA’s Janice Ancrum Senior Life Center in Fernandina Beach. The course is taught by AICMF’s Executive Director, Dr. Nina Knight.

In January, the Dover Quartet will provide Master Classes to students at Jacksonville University, as well as students from local high schools. In addition, some artists will visit local schools to introduce students to the joy of chamber music in a fun and approachable setting. Several concerts are also being planned for local senior facilities.

In addition, the festival will host a free concert in Central Park on May 11, featuring the Jacksonville Brass Quintet. And new this year, the festival is offering $15 student tickets to all concerts. “Education and outreach is an important part of our mission,” says Ransom. “This season promises an exceptional lineup of the best musical talent from around the world. Personally, I look forward to engaging with the Amelia Island community and continuing to inspire a whole new generation of festival fans!”

For concert tickets or to learn more about becoming a volunteer or supporter, visit www.aicmf.org or call (904) 261-1779. Follow the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival on Facebook and Instagram. The AICMF office is located at 1405 Park Avenue, Suite 101, in Fernandina Beach