Penn’s Woods reprises summer serenades

Music at Penn’s Woods Director Gerardo Edelstein conducts an orchestral performance during last year’s festival.
Music at Penn’s Woods Director Gerardo Edelstein conducts an orchestral performance during last year’s festival. Photo provided

The classics never go out of style.

Sure, trends will come and go but there’s a reason that certain looks — and sounds — endure.

Music at Penn’s Woods was launched by the Penn State School of Music in 1986, and aside from a relatively brief five-year hiatus, it has continued on as a highly effective method for cramming an entire season’s worth of culture into two orchestral and two chamber music concerts spread over a single fortnight.

But consistency doesn’t necessarily guarantee timelessness.

Instead, the festival will rely on a series of selections like Gioacchino Rossini’s overture to “La Scala di Seta” and pair them in tandem with the talents of professional musicians, students and faculty to provide that ageless polish.

“The purpose is to bring classical music of the highest quality to State College in the summer,” Gerardo Edelstein, music director, said.

Edelstein will conduct both of the festival’s orchestral performances, taking place on two consecutive Saturdays.

In selecting the program, Edelstein said he sought to include a variety of different compositions that had not been performed recently, varying the pieces by year and, of course, composer.

Those looking to go into more detail about each selection can join Edelstein an hour before each concert for an informational session on the evening’s program, a segment the maestro believes can help deepen an audience’s appreciation for the music serenading their senses.

“People are interested to hear these stories on how the pieces are conceived and learn more about the musicians,” Edelstein said.

Ah, the musicians.

They’ll play a pretty crucial role in all four concerts — what with all of those instruments laying around.

Some, like clarinetist Soo Goh, hail from as far away as Malaysia, while others, like violinist Noah Beattie-Moss, only recently graduated from the halls of State College Area High School.

“It’s a really diverse group of people,” said Russell Bloom, who is the arts manager at the School of Music.

Bloom thinks one of the things that separates Music at Penn’s Woods from other local summer festivals is a more intimate relationship between the musicians and the audience, fostered in part by Edelstein’s lectures.

Still, every great love affair has its obstacles.

“It’s the the challenge of trying to program something something that’s appealing to the audience and the musicians,” Bloom said.

All concerts will be held in the Esber Recital Hall, Music Building I on Penn State’s campus.