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June 18, 2024

EMF Returns in June for Five Weeks of Music Making on Campus

Students and faculty of the Eastern Music Festival & School arrive at Guilford College Saturday, June 22, to begin five weeks of musical instruction and performances in the 63rd season of the widely acclaimed summer event.

Two hundred sixty-two students from 37 states and 12 countries along with 55 faculty from across the nation will be in residence, and they will present more than 65 classical music programs, all but one on campus.

“We’re ready to get started,” said EMF Executive Director Chris Williams, who is in his 10th year leading the festival and school. “This is an exciting time of the year and we’re looking forward to a great season.”

Longtime and distinguished Music Director Gerard Schwarz returns to conduct the five Joseph M. Bryan Jr. ’60 Festival Orchestra Series programs on Saturday evenings and other performances.

Programs cover “a lot of territory”

Concert-goers can expect a variety of musical offerings that begin with a concert by the Eastern Chamber Players Tuesday, June 25. Most events are at Dana Auditorium.

Bela Fleck joins the Eastern Festival Orchestra Saturday, June 29, for the opening festival series program which features the 18-time Grammy-winning banjo player performing his arrangement of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” Also, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor and pieces by Debussy and Zwilich are on that program.

Chris highlighted three other “signature performance” programs:

  • Monday, July 1, with The Amernet String Quartet that includes EMF violinists Misha Vitenson and Avi Nagin along with Michael Klotz on viola and Jason Calloway, cello, performing pieces by Schulhoff, Mozart and Dvorak.
  • Wednesday, July 10, with the U.S. Air Force Heritage Winds Quintet including four EMF alumni, performing a variety of pieces by living female composers. The program is free of charge to the public.
  • Wednesday, July 24, the EMF Classical Guitar Summit at Temple Emanuel with guitar faculty including Dana Professor of Music Kami Rowan as well as young artists. The guitar program is in its 10th year.

The full schedule of performances is on the EMF website.

Rebound from COVID continues

EMF, which has been based at Guilford since its founding in 1961, saw an uptick in participation by students and audience members in 2023. “The rebound from COVID was strong,” said Chris, “and I believe 2024 will be as strong or stronger.”

The festival is a longstanding summer tradition in Greensboro and performances draw an audience from the Piedmont Triad and beyond. For five weeks each year the Eastern Festival Orchestra is perhaps the finest ensemble of its type in North Carolina.

Chris is excited about the arrival of the students – “they bring the energy,” he said – as well as the outstanding group of faculty members from great universities, colleges and conservatories who are also performers with orchestras across the country.

A number of the faculty members return to Greensboro for the festival and school every year. Neal Cary, who is on the performing artist faculty at the College of William & Mary, joined EMF 40 years ago this summer and has been principal cellist since 1988.