From June 16 to 23, UMBC’s Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall will host an ambitious new annual event, Festival Baltimore, featuring performances of major classical chamber music works by Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Shostakovich, Paul Creston and George Walker. Produced in partnership between UMBC’s department of music and non-profit organization Music for Minds, the festival’s concerts are unusual opportunities to hear complete cycles of works — for example, all of the Brahms piano quartets or all of the Beethoven cello sonatas — in a single evening.
“Each concert is dedicated to a composer’s complete works for a certain genre or instrumentation,” explains festival director and pianist Asiya Korepanova. “They bring back the atmosphere of the magical old times of 19th century, when two symphonies could be premiered on the same evening — after two hours of other music! — when audiences were just soaked in music, limitlessly absorbing it, when time flew by differently, and people couldn’t wait to hear premieres and then discuss their impressions.”
The festival offers “a distinctive twist on programming,” said Tim Smith of The Baltimore Sun on May 31, “in UMBC’s impressive Linehan Concert Hall.” Read his article about Festival Baltimore here.
UMBC faculty, staff and students are among the festival’s highlights. “We are thrilled to be partnering with the extraordinary musicians in Festival Baltimore to bring the joy of summer chamber music to the Baltimore region,” says Linda Dusman, chair of music. “Audiences will delight in the amazing beauty and acoustics of the Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall, which brings every nuance of the performance to every seat in the house.”
Gita Ladd, cellist and UMBC affiliate artist, will perform on the festival’s finale on Friday, June 23, in a program presenting the complete Beethoven cello sonatas. Four UMBC student musicians — cellist Michael Bradshaw, violinist Morgan Dice, pianist Jackie Smedley, and pianist Junghoon Park (all class of ’18) — have received scholarships to the Festival Baltimore Academy (read more here), and with nine other academy attendees will perform the complete Brahms piano quartets on Friday, June 23.
Alan Wonneberger, director of recording for the department of music, will oversee the festival’s recording sessions, assisted by two UMBC students — Stephen Johnson and Nicholas Spears — who will intern during the festival to gain hands-on recording experience. “Festival Baltimore provides opportunities for the UMBC community and the community at large to connect with world class musicians,” he notes. “For the interns, the festival provides opportunities to record concerts with varying instrumentation performed by superb artists.”
The festival opens on Friday, June 16, with Korepanova’s performance of Franz Liszt’s complete 24 etudes for solo piano. “I admire these etudes because they are among very few examples in the piano repertoire when a 5-minute piano piece can sound like a symphonic poem,” she says. “I’ve played the 12 transcendental etudes as a set since I was 19 and always enjoyed the challenge and grandeur of this cycle. Learning that cycle felt like taming a wild animal, and now, with another 12 etudes added, it feels that way even more.”
On Saturday, June 17, the Firebird Duo (saxophonist Matthew Evan Taylor and pianist Asiya Korepanova) performs Paul Creston’s complete works for saxophone and piano. “It has been fun to trace Paul Creston’s evolution in writing for solo alto saxophone and piano,” shares Taylor. “I’ve really enjoyed experiencing the difference between Creston’s early style, in which he is fitting his various influences together, and his mature style, which is elegant and assured.”
On Sunday, June 18, violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt and pianist Asiya Korepanova perform the complete Brahms and Shostakovich viola sonatas, and on Wednesday, June 21, pianist Redi Llupa performs the complete piano sonatas by George Walker. Thursday, June 22, features the duo of violinist Netanel Draiblate and pianist Lura Johnson, who will perform the complete Brahms violin sonatas.
Friday, June 23, hosts two concerts. First, college musicians attending the Festival Baltimore Academy will perform the complete piano quartets by Brahms. Capping off the festival in the evening, Ladd and Korepanova will perform the complete cello sonatas by Beethoven.
“Gita and I met at the Endless Mountain Music Festival in 2013 but hadn’t played as a duo until 2015, when, due to a mistake by the festival, I wasn’t told that I was to perform with her, and it was three days before the concert,” remembers Korepanova. “So, I had three days to learn the Prokofiev Cello Sonata, the Chopin Polonaise and some other challenging works, and we could rehearse only twice. The surprise was when we got together and played the entire program as if we had played with one another other for decades! It was insane, as if we didn’t need to rehearse anything — we both knew what the other was about to do.”
All Festival Baltimore performances will be held in UMBC’s Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall, and master classes throughout the week are open to the public. General information about each of the concerts is available on UMBC’s Arts and Culture calendar here, and tickets are available through the Festival Baltimore website here. UMBC faculty and staff receive a 50% discount on tickets; UMBC students and attendees under the age of 18 receive free admission.
Festival Baltimore’s logo was inspired by Forum by Thomas Sayre, the public artwork situated in front of the Performing Arts and Humanities Building.
Header image: UMBC’s Linehan Concert Hall. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.