JAMAICA >> Pikes Falls Chamber Music Festival has become a summertime tradition.
"We're really excited that it's the fifth year and excited for everything else that's to come," said Susanna Loewy, festival founder who also is a teaching artist for the Philadelphia Orchestra and teaches at Kutztown University. "I think this year, it really appeals to a very wide audience because we have music from Bach to romantic music to music that is world premiere. So I think anybody who comes would find something that they enjoy."
Loewy and a cellist have come every year since the festival's inception. Musicians travel from New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
This year, the group will be staying a bit longer. Instead of a week and five days, they'll be here for two full weeks. That will allow for more rehearsal time and more performances.
The festival also went a little further in its reach. Two concerts at the Latchis Theatre in Brattleboro were added to the schedule.
"But I definitely feel like we're rooted in Jamaica," Loewy said. "We're named after the waterfall in Jamaica."
She grew up visiting the town every summer, hence the attachment she feels to it.
On Thursdays, July 28 and Aug. 4, concerts will be held at the Jamaica State Park at 6 p.m. On Fridays, July 29 and Aug. 5, the Latchis Theatre will host the festival at 4 p.m.
The Jamaica Town Hall Opening Concert starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, with a pre-concert talk led by Richard Scerbo at 6:30 p.m.
A performance at Jamaica Farmers Market on Sunday, July, 31, is scheduled for noon. From 12:30 to 2 p.m., an art and music event for children and young adults will be held at Jamaica Town Hall. "Rocking and recycling instrument creation" is part of the day's activities. An open rehearsal will occur at the Town Hall from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., and a community pot luck dinner and open mic event will go from 6 to 9 p.m.
The festival has partnered with the town of Jamaica to host an exhibit of artist Milton Avery's work with a discussion about his life and experiences in Vermont. The talk starts at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6. The exhibit is open from 4 to 7 p.m.
The Jamaica Town Hall Closing Concert on Saturday, Aug. 6, will begin at 7 p.m. with a pre-concert talk led by Scerbo. A post-concert reception will follow.
The first week of selections include Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Vocalise," York Bowen's "Horn Quartet," Johann Sebastian Bach's "Suite in B Minor," George Barboteu's "Equisse" and Heitor Villa-Lobos's "Quintette Instrumental." Joseph Hallman, composer in residence, will premiere his "Second to None."
The next week features Bach's "Gold Variations," Arthur Honegger's "Three Contrepoints," Erwin Schulhoff's "Concertino," Georg Philipp Telemann's "Trio Sonata in E Minor for Flute, Oboe and Continuo, TWV 42:e2" and Robert Schumann's "Romance No. 2, Op. 28." And there's the world premiere of composer-in-residence Nathan Lincoln Decusatis's "Blunt Objects."
All concerts are free. Three visual artists will be joining the musicians during their stay. A video will be shown at Latchis while the group performs songs. On display at Jamaica Town Hall will be a collage and sculpture. The Town Hall performances also will be streaming live through the social media website Facebook.
The musicians and artists stay a home less than a quarter of a mile from the Jamaica Town Hall. The owner is "really supportive and helpful," said Loewy, adding that a room for yoga provides the perfect place for rehearsals.
Loewy said she thinks the same number of musicians are coming this year but the personnel has changed.
"There's going to be a horn player this year. We have a brass component. Also the harp, that's something we didn't have last year," she said. "And then we have a string quartet, a bass, a flute and oboe."
Part of the group is made up of members of Inscape, a chamber orchestra that includes Loewy. Other musicians are either friends or people that she has previously collaborated with on other projects.
The goal is to create a good artistic and interpersonal experience for everybody involved, said Loewy.
Contact Chris Mays at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.