Summer Festivals: Stars, Youth Light Up Evenings At Eastern Music Fest

Eastern Music Festival, North Carolina
Eastern Music Festival, Greensboro, North Carolina
By John W. Lambert

The venerable Eastern Music Festival‘s 52nd season offers more than 100 events in a little over a month in Greensboro, NC, the heart of “The State of the Arts.” Music Director Gerard Schwarz and his staff have assembled music to please every taste, ranging from a top-flight professional orchestra to student ensembles that give the pros serious runs for their money to chamber music and recitals featuring world-class visiting artist-scholars. All this is made possible by some 200 young artists and 80 faculty musicians who enjoy and share classical music with the community.

Violinist Joshua Bell
Violinist Joshua Bell

“Many of our Festival Orchestra concerts begin with an American work, and we combine the greatest standards of the repertoire… with lesser known works, such as the Hovhaness Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Strings,” Schwarz says. “Our special events include performances of Bach’s Magnificat and a concert of concertos by Vivaldi, which brings our festival out into the entire community.”

Guest artists include violinists Joshua Bell and Augustin Hadelich, pianists Andre Watts. William Wolfram, and Ignat Solzhenitsyn, and cellist Lynn Harrell. Other season highlights will include the EMFamily Concert and collaboration with the Greensboro Ballet (Prokofiev’s  “Peter & the Wolf”) and the new EMFkidsDiscover camp for children with high-functioning autism/asperger’s syndrome.

Cellist Lynn Harrell
Cellist Lynn Harrell

There’s something to do every day, but interest centers on the popular Saturday evening series, which opens on June 29 with guest pianist William Wolfram. Violinist Augustin Hadelich (July 13) and pianist André Watts (July 21), pianist Ignat Solzhenitsyn (July 6), and cellist Lynn Harrell (July 27) will also be featured. Repertoire highlights include Beethoven’s Piano Concertos 1, 3, and 4 in the same program; the EMF premiere of Gerard Schwarz’s “The Human Spirit”; and the Faculty Orchestra performing Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor with André Watts. All Festival Orchestra performances are on Saturdays at 8 p.m. in Dana Auditorium, on the campus of Guilford College.

Repertoire highlights for the Young Artists Series include Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben, Holst’s The Planets, Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, Respighi’s Roman Festivals, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. Performing alongside the Young Artists are guests Robert Vernon, viola (July 18); Jeffrey Multer, violin (July 19); Leonid Finkelshteyn, bass (July 5), and Daniel Reinker and Mara Gearman, violists (July 12).

Single tickets go on sale June 3. For more information, call 866-579-TIXX or 336-274-0160 or

John W. Lambert is the former Executive Editor of Classical Voice North Carolina.