Every June, faculty artists and pre-professional musicians come together in Sarasota to study and perform chamber and orchestral music. Nearly 500 students worldwide audition to participate in the Sarasota Music Festival, but only 60 are accepted for the prestigious festival, a program of the Sarasota Orchestra.  

Founded by Paul Wolfe, the Sarasota Music Festival began in 1965 as a one-week event with seven guest mentors. Wolfe was its director for 42 years and the festival garnered international acclaim. Now in its third season under artistic director Jeffrey Kahane, the 2019 festival welcomes more than 40 guest artists, including many of the festival's alumni.  

Kahane is a renowned conductor and pianist who has performed with many of the world’s great orchestras. He recently completed his 20th season as music director of The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Previously, he was music director of the Colorado Symphony and the Santa Rosa Symphony.

Kahane has recorded extensively and is a recipient of ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming in Los Angeles and Denver. He is the professor of keyboard studies at USC Thornton School of Music and was a Van Cliburn Competition finalist, the winner of the Rubinstein Competition, and recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant.

This year’s Sarasota Music Festival highlights include:  
The 2019 Sarasota Music Festival opens with a special concert featuring Brahms’ three sonatas for violin and piano. Angelo Xiang Yu, Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition winner, and Kahane will play the sonatas in succession, making this a rare opportunity to hear all three in one program.

“These three glorious masterworks of the chamber repertoire are among the works closest to my heart, and I know Angelo feels the same way,” Kahane says. “It will be the first time we will be playing an entire recital program together, and I think it will be a magnificent way to launch the Festival with a new kind of event.”

Two renowned ensembles, consisting of SMF faculty, will join the festival as guest artists and masterclass mentors. The Montrose Trio, which The Washington Post said is “poised to become one of the top piano trios in the world,” will perform Mendelssohn’s energetic Piano Trio No. 2 on June 7. The Pacifica Quartet joins Kahane on piano in a performance of Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F minor on June 14.

“This represents the first time in the history of the festival that fixed chamber ensembles will join the faculty both as chamber groups and as individual faculty members,” Kahane explains. “This will provide the festival fellows and patrons a special window into the performance of repertoire for piano and strings and for string quartet from the perspective of musicians who have devoted a substantial part of their musical lives to ensemble playing.”

Cassia Drake and Katherine Arndt, both 2018 SMF fellows, return to Sarasota to join Kahane and the SMF orchestra in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante.

“Both Cassia Drake and Katherine Arndt gave stunningly beautiful performances on various chamber concerts, and they seemed to us to be ideally suited for a performance of Mozart’s sublime Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola, considered by many musicians and music-lovers to be among his most beautiful and moving works,” says said.

Four new faculty artists include Romie de Guise-Langlois, renowned soloist and chamber musician on major concert stages throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia; Martin Beaver, former first violinist of the Tokyo Quartet; Nathan Hughes, principal oboe of the Metropolitan Opera; and Aloysia Friedmann, founder and artistic director of the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival.