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Yale School of Music’s Chamber Music Festival brings summer concerts to Norfolk

Yale Summer School of Music/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival
July 30, 2013

The Register Citizen
By Mercy Quaye

The Yale School of Music’s Chamber Music Festival will end in three weeks. But until then, it will hold classical concerts multiple times a week.

Between the students of the school and the faculty members, the festival does a series of concerts every week. The concerts feature a form of classical music called Chamber which is played by a small ensemble made up of 3 to 12 people.

The Young Artists Performance series features students who have come to the school from all across the world. The school gets nearly 100 or more applicants for the each of the three sessions for the school. Less than half of the applicants get accepted for the program.

“It’s very competitive and we honestly try to attract some of the best young musicians from around the world,” said James Nelson, general manager of the music festival. “They’ve typically already finished their studies at other conservatories around the world.”

The students’ performances will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.

The faculty series occurs twice a week and feature the teachers who Nelson describes as the some of the best in their craft. Every Friday and Saturday night at 8:30 p.m., the faculty, who are in Norfolk to coach the students, play to an array of music from strings to brass. Though the public can see the students play for free, the tickets for faculty shows range from $15-55.

The well-trained performers work on their pieces all summer long and will debut them at any point depending on when the pieces are ready. Nelson has been with the organization for 11 years and regards the festival are one of the best in the northeast.

During the festival, the organization will be working on fundraising for the restoration of its concert hall, the Music Shed, which has been around for more than 100 years. The goal for the restoration project is $5.5 million but an additional $100,000 is expected from another a campaign called Musical Chairs.

“To kick off that campaign we engaged 13 artists to take one of the Music Sheds chairs and turn it into a piece of art,” Nelson said. “We are auctioning them off August 3rd at the end of the concert intermission.”

As a part of the campaign there is also a chair-naming fundraiser that will allow the public to purchase a chair in the Music Shed for $250 and name it. The silent auction has been ongoing since the beginning of the festival in June.

“We are on track for that goal,” he said. “It’s very exciting. The community has been very supportive.”

An anonymous donor from the community has agreed to match any the amount that is raised. Nelson says $1 million has already been given to the organization.

“We’ve got an ambitious multi-year plan to restore the building so that it’ll last another hundred years.” Nelson said.

The festival has been an annual event since 1895 and the Yale School of Music joined the team in 1941. According to Nelson the festival is regarded as the oldest summer music festival in the country.

“It’s a festival that is respect and known internationally” Nelson said. “Right here in little Norfolk.”

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