After missing most of the past two seasons due to Covid, the Sarasota Music Festival returns June 6-25, welcoming its familiar mix of faculty and student musicians performing in concerts at both Holley Hall and the Sarasota Opera House.
Founded in 1965, the summer music festival (a program of Sarasota Orchestra) has long been a popular event for lovers of classical music, but the festival had to be canceled in 2020 and was able to present concerts only for limited audiences, and with no students in attendance, last year. The 2022 fest, therefore, “promises to be uniquely poignant and celebratory,” says music director Jeffrey Kahane.
A total of 14 programs fills the festival, featuring music from the Baroque era to contemporary music of the 21st century. Both chamber music and the orchestral repertoire will be represented.
Among the highlights: the first Festival Friday performance, titled “Reunion,” which is indeed a reunion for many of the musicians. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and Florence Price’s Adoration for clarinet and string quartet provide a blend of old and new for what Kahane calls a season of diverse programming. Kahane and the Calidore String Quartet will close out that program with Dvorak’s Piano Quintet in A Major.
Acclaimed pianist Ya-Fei Chuang, a festival alumna, serves as soloist on Chopin’s Piano Concerto in F Minor in the first Festival Saturday performance, when the orchestra will also perform Starburst, by fast-rising American composer Jessie Montgomery, along with Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony.
Kahane and former music director of the festival, Robert Levin, come together for a joint lecture to discuss a wide range of topics related to the festival. Guest artists Caroline Shaw and Gabriel Kahane (yes, Jeffrey’s son, whose most recent album, Magnificent Bird, came out in March) will present a collaborative performance of chamber music followed by a Q&A. The festival will culminate with a program entitled “From America to Italy,” with festival alumna and faculty violinist Francesca Anderegg performing Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2, followed by Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4, a tribute to Italy’s sunshine and warm breezes.
Eleven new faculty members join the festival roster, representing several of the nation’s major performing organizations, such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. And 60 young “fellows,” chosen from hundreds of applicants, will have the chance to both study and perform with those faculty members.
For tickets and the complete schedule of this year’s returning festival, visit sarasotaorchestra.org/festival. The box office number is (941) 953-3434.