At the age of 52, the Sarasota Music Festival may have earned the right to be called venerable. But with dozens of top-of-their-class music students arriving in Sarasota each June from colleges all over the world to learn and perform, there’s a lot of youthful energy on tap during the three-week summer fest (June 6-25) as well.
It’s that combination of acclaimed experience and raw talent that makes a music festival like this one exciting to listen to. And longtime fest-goers can testify how one group of musicians morphs into the other over time; for example, former festival student Noah Bendix-Balgley, now concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, returns here as a soloist this year to perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major, on June 11 at the Sarasota Opera House, under the baton of conductor Larry Rachleff.
But the festival really gets underway before that, with master classes starting June 6. (These cost $5 to observe). And the first full performance of the festival pays homage to the late violinist Joseph Silverstein, a festival faculty artist since 1969, with a performance of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata, a piece Silverstein programmed prior to his death in November 2015. It will be performed by new faculty artist pianist Robert McDonald and veteran faculty artist Ani Kavafian, on June 9 at the Sarasota Orchestra’s Holley Hall.
Also on offer the first weekend of the festival is a concert called “A Potpourri of Passions,” the first mixed faculty-student chamber concert of the festival, June 10 at the Opera House. Mozart’s String Quartet is one of the pieces on that program.
The festival continues with concert weekends June 16-18 and June 23-25; there are also lectures by artistic director Robert Levin, student recitals, and a recital-lecture by pianist Arie Vardi on the schedule.
For complete festival information and tickets, call (941) 953-3434 or visit sarasotaorchestra.org/festival.