The Kent Blossom Summer Music Festival has adapted again this year to COVID-19, offering virtual educational programming to 20 national and international music students, but also bringing back live and in-person concerts by professors from the festival and guest artists.
The Kent Blossom Music Festival, an educational partnership between Kent State University, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Blossom Music Center that started 53 years ago, has traditionally focused on chamber music. This summer, from July 11 to August 1, undergraduates and graduate students from around the world will take virtual classes and master classes taught by members of the Cleveland Orchestra, the Faculty of Music at the Glauser School of Music. Kent State and guest artists performing in Kent.
Last year, due to the pandemic, the KSU-based festival was canceled and a series of five-concert reruns were offered online.
This year, online teachers will include violinist Paul Huang, who will also be kicking off the teachers’ live concert series at 7:30 p.m. on July 14 at the music school’s Ludwig Recital Hall. He will perform in a duo recital with unrelated pianist Helen Huang as guest artists of Kulas, performing sonatas by Felix Mendelssohn, John Corigliano, Eugene Ysaye and Cesar Franck.
Paul Huang, born in Taiwan, received the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant 2015 and the Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists 2017. He plays a 1742 Stradivarius violin on extended loan from the Stradivarius Society of Chicago.
Taiwan-American pianist Helen Huang was discovered by conductor Kurt Masur after winning the Young People’s Competition and in 1995 became one of the youngest recipients of the Avery Fisher Career Fellowship. She teaches at Juilliard Pre-College.
The next concert will feature guest performers Kulas, Demarre McGill, flute, and Rodolfo Leone, piano, at 7:30 p.m. on July 21. They will perform works by Valerie Coleman, Lowell Liebrmann, William Grant and Yuko Uebayashi.
McGill, also recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Fellowship and the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, is the principal flute of the Seattle Symphony. He was appointed Associate Professor of Flute at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in 2019 and co-founded the McGill / McHale Trio in 2014 with his brother, clarinetist Anthony McGill, and pianist Michael McHale.
Demarre McGill will be teaching a master class at the Kent Blossom Music Festival.
“Our faculty, our world-renowned speakers, are some of the best of the best,” said festival director Ricardo Sepulveda.
Italian-born pianist Rodolfo Leone won first prize at the 2017 Vienna Beethoven International Piano Competition. He has performed extensively in Europe, North America and China and is currently based in Los Angeles, where he previously studied at the Colburn Conservatory of Music.
Next, the Miami String Quartet, the festival’s quartet in residence, will perform at 7:30 p.m. on July 23. Violinists Benny Kim and Cathy Meng Robinson, violist Scott Lee and cellist Keith Robinson will perform works by Joseph Haydn, Erwin Schulhoff and Antonin Dvorak.
Finally, members of the Cleveland Orchestra will perform at 7:30 p.m. on July 28. They will feature pianist Joela Jones, cellist Richard Weiss and violinist Yun-Ting Lee for a program featuring works by Ennio Morricone and Astor Piazzolla as well as “Passacaglia” by George Frederick Handel-Johan Halvorsen. Jones will play the accordion for Piazzolla’s pieces.
The concert will also feature a wind octet from the Cleveland Orchestra playing Mozart’s Serenade No. 12 for winds in C minor. Musicians will be oboists Jeffrey Rathbun and Corbin Stair, clarinetists Daniel McKelway and Robert Woolfrey, bassoonists Barrick Stees and Gareth Thomas, and French horns Michael Mayhew and Jesse McCormick.
“It’s just exciting that we were able to relax these [COVID-19] guidelines and were able to have concerts in person, ”Sepulveda said.
He said there were so many variables to deal with before the festival planning deadline, including travel restrictions for international students and time limits on how long musicians could perform together in one. space, that the decision was made to change the format of the festival. From now on, students will take online courses in piano, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horns, violin, cello and viola.
This year’s 20 students – about half the festival’s usual number – will receive free online educational instruction, thanks to donors including the Kulas Foundation. About 20 to 30 percent of students are international.
The cost of the live festival concerts at KSU is $ 25 for single tickets or $ 100 for subscriptions for all four. Spectators 18 and under will be admitted free. Seating will be limited to 200. See www.kent.edu/blossom/ticket-information or call 330-672-4102 to order.
For those who cannot attend the concerts, they will be streamed live for free at www.kent.edu/blossom/live-streaming.
Artistic writer Kerry Clawson can be reached at 330-996-3527 or [email protected]