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By Daniel Hautzinger

MITCHELL-BrettCleveland Orchestra assistant conductor Brett Mitchell has had an eventful summer. He just got married and moved into a new house, and last weekend he made his debut at the Blossom Music Center, stepping in for Stanislaw Skrowaczewski to conduct The Cleveland Orchestra (TCO) after Skrowaczewski cancelled shortly before the concert because of illness. And on July 26, Mitchell returns to Blossom for what he thought would be his debut there, conducting the Kent/Blossom Chamber Orchestra in a prelude concert at 7:00.

That concert will be followed at 8:00 by John Storgårds conducting TCO in Beethoven’s Fidelio Overture and Liszt’s First Piano Concerto with Stephen Hough. Finally, the jam-packed night will end with the Kent/Blossom Chamber Orchestra, who are students at the Kent/Blossom Music Festival, and TCO in a side-by-side performance of Sibelius’s Second Symphony led by Storgårds.

Things have come full circle for Mitchell, whose first time working with TCO “was back in the summer of 2009, when they hired me to be a cover conductor for a couple of their guest conductors at Blossom,” he said last week over the phone while on the way to lunch in between rehearsals. So a debut at Blossom is fitting. Read the rest of this entry »


By J.D. Goddard

Kosower&OhAn evening of Brahms at any venue, with any combination of instruments, is always a deeply moving experience for those who love Romantic music. And so it was Wednesday evening, July 16 at Kent State’s Ludwig Recital Hall when Cleveland Orchestra principal cello Mark Kosower and pianist Jee-Won Oh presented three Brahms sonatas as part of the Kent/Blossom Music Festival Faculty Recital Series. This was an evening of deep emotion as these two excellent performers fused their exceptional talents into an exquisite program. Read the rest of this entry »

By Daniel Hautzinger

K_B-Weiss-coachingAnn Yeh wouldn’t be applying to graduate school for cello performance if it weren’t for Kent/Blossom Music Festival (KBMF). Now in her second year at the festival and entering her senior year at Vanderbilt University studying with Felix Wang, Yeh said that after “the incredible experience I had last time I thought that maybe I could make it as a musician.”

Such career-changing influence is what every educational festival and its faculty hope to achieve. And KBMF students find this festival particularly effective. “My experience so far has been extremely enjoyable and productive,” enthused violinist Gabe Napoli, currently studying at Northwestern University. “My peers are all amazingly talented and it’s so much fun to make music with them. The instructors are both inspiring role models and great coaches. It’s a privilege to learn from them.” Read the rest of this entry »

By Daniel Hautzinger

Lee-ZakanyDances are usually joyous, but on July 9 at Kent State University’s Ludwig Recital Hall violinist Jung-Min Amy Lee gave a recital that explored the somber side of the dance in repertoire ranging from Bach to Esa-Pekka Salonen. Read the rest of this entry »

By Daniel Hautzinger

Hudson-LibraryPerformance experience is obviously invaluable for young musicians, but playing at a conservatory in front of peers and professors who know the piece intimately can be intimidating. As such, an audience out just to enjoy free music on a pleasant Sunday afternoon is well-appreciated. Hence Kent/Blossom Music Festival’s well-attended student recital at the airy Hudson Library on July 6. (There were a total of four student concerts last weekend, the other three in Ludwig Hall at Kent State University).

The students have two weeks to learn a piece mostly on their own, with occasional coachings from festival faculty members. The ensemble communication was impressive on Sunday in such circumstances, and each groups’ blend was enhanced by the library rotunda’s softening acoustics. Read the rest of this entry »

By Daniel Hautzinger

Robinson-KeithLearning and putting together Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time is a scramble against time. The piece features complicated rhythms (sometimes notated without time signatures), infinitely long phrases, and complicated layering of parts. György Ligeti’s Horn Trio and Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony are similarly difficult works. But students at Kent/Blossom Music Festival (KBMF) are assigned to learn them in two weeks for performance.

“Two weeks is just enough time,” said Keith Robinson, artistic coordinator of Kent/Blossom, professor of cello at Kent State and KBMF, and cellist in the Miami String Quartet, who gave a recital as part of the festival. “You want something that will challenge them for two whole weeks.” Read the rest of this entry »

By Daniel Hautzinger

Kavafian-IdaIda Kavafian is clearly a devoted teacher. She serves on the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music, Bard College Conservatory, and Juilliard, and was the Kent/Blossom Music Festival’s Kulas Guest Artist this year, giving master classes and coachings to student musicians. As part of that residency, she gave a recital in Ludwig Recital Hall at Kent State University on July 3.

Kavafian’s desire to aid the next generation of musicians was evident even while performing. While playing Chausson’s Concert for Violin, Piano and String Quartet in D with guest pianist Yekwon Sunwoo and the Glauser Quartet, she visibly encouraged the young quartet (the members are all students at the festival), amiably cueing and connecting with them. And when the Glauser hesitated to come out for an encore, leaving Kavafian and Sunwoo to enjoy the applause, she clucked at such nonsense and beckoned them back on stage like a proud mother.

Read the rest of this entry »

By Mike Telin

Ida Kavafian“I’m looking forward to being there, it’s going to be a lot of fun,” violinist and 2014 Kent/Blossom Kulas Foundation Guest Artist Ida Kavafian said enthusiastically by telephone. “Keith Robinson is somebody I’ve worked with for years and he’s talked about hosting me at Kent/Blossom for some time. We finally were able to work out the dates and come up with a project that will be a lot of fun and beneficial to the students.”

On Thursday, July 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Ludwig Recital Hall, Ida Kavafian will present a recital featuring music of Beethoven, Richard Strauss and Ernest Chausson. Joining Kavafian will be Korean pianist Yekwon Sunwoo and the Glauser String Quartet. A reception to meet and greet the artists will follow the performance.  Read the rest of this entry »

By Mike Telin and Daniel Hautzinger

KBMFEvery summer, young music students leave their conservatories to attend festivals, where they essentially continue the studies they undertake during the year, but with other teachers, and performances and master classes by exceptional visiting artists. Kent/Blossom Music Festival is no different: students descend upon Kent State University for five weeks to study with musicians from the Cleveland Orchestra, Kent Faculty, and guest artists. Throughout those five weeks, there are six faculty concerts and a performance with the Cleveland Orchestra, as well as eight student recitals (see our concert listings page for details).

“We put the students in a room and say ‘here’s your group and your music. Good luck,’” said Charles Latshaw, director of the Kent State University Orchestra and of Kent/Blossom. “In a few days we bring in a faculty coach who’ll work with them. The students learn and grow on their own and develop their own personal expression. That’s special for a chamber music festival.” Read the rest of this entry »

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