Music at Penn’s Woods kicks off its 2014 season next week with a free outdoor program titled “Music in the Gardens.” The summer classical music festival is a collaboration of Penn State faculty, alumni, and some of the school’s most talented students along with professional musicians from around the area and the country. Every summer, these artists gather in State College to perform four concerts — two chamber music and two orchestral — that bring the rich, colorful world of classical music to local audiences. This year’s series offers a fifth performance that gives audiences a chance to sample a variety of classical music while enjoying the rainbow of blooms and sweet scents of nature.
“Music in the Gardens,” at The Arboretum at Penn State, is the first of the five performances. Artists will be set up in different areas of the arboretum, performing 10- to 12-minute pieces of music several times throughout an hour, giving guests a chance to sample the music at their own pace as they make their way through the gardens.
The two orchestral concerts later in the month include a pre-concert discussion with the conductor, Maestro Gerardo Edelstein. The discussion starts an hour before the performance.
“I give a general outline of the pieces that will be performed, and I introduce the soloists to the attendees,” Edelstein said. “This is a great opportunity to interact even more with the audience by giving them the chance to ask questions.”
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Members of the Penn’s Woods orchestra are well known, not only in local circles but also in musical circles all over the world. For example, Kim Cook has had an extensive career as a cello soloist and has traveled as the International Artistic Ambassador for the U.S. State Department. James Lyons has played the violin at venues such as Carnegie Hall. Edelstein has conducted musicians worldwide, with performances that include the Houston Ballet, Richmond Symphony and Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic in the Czech Republic. Other members boast similarly impressive resumés.
For even the seasoned artists, Penn’s Woods is an important venue for not only performance but also at times for learning, and the musicians have an apparent respect for one another. Timothy Shafer, piano, describes the program as “one of the outstanding artistic programs in central Pennsylvania.
“The orchestra is great under the direction of professor Edelstein, and the chamber programs are rife with great standards, as well as selections I’ve never heard before.”
Shafer’s performances include Beethoven’s “Triple Concerto” and Franz Shubert’s “Shepherd on the Rock.”
Shafer described the Triple Concerto as “a rare kind of piece that combines chamber music with orchestra” and of the Shubert selection said, “(It’s) a wonderful piece that highlights the soprano and the clarinet in conversation with one another and requires subtle timing and alert listening.”
Other selections this season include Antonin Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70,” Handel’s “Trio Sonata in G Minor, Op. 2, No. 5” and Mozart’s “Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major.”
Dr. Mark Ferraguto said “it’s an honor to be part of Music at Penn’s Woods.” He invited audiences to come experience what classical music has to offer.
“There’s a special feeling one gets from summer concerts — even indoor ones. When the weather gets hot and nature’s in full bloom, everybody needs to relax a bit. Music isn’t quite like lemonade or ice cream, but it can be really refreshing in its own way,” he said.