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Sarasota Music Festival returns with revised format

The festival runs June 12 - 19.

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  • | 11:05 a.m. May 23, 2021
Jeffrey Kahane will perform in the festival and host a lecture. Courtesy photo.
Jeffrey Kahane will perform in the festival and host a lecture. Courtesy photo.
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Jeffrey Kahane said he believes there's a certain spirit to the annual Sarasota Music Festival — a sort of through line of programming that makes the event what it is, year after year.

A typical schedule for the Sarasota Orchestra's annual event features three weeks of concerts, master classes and programs that bring in countless visitors and music lovers to enjoy classic works and pieces from revered artists.

This year, some of that has changed. But, there's that event spirit shining through, again.

"The circumstances made it impossible for us to do anything approaching the scope and scale of what we normally do," Kahane, the event's musical director, said. "... We decided we needed to do something to create an event that would symbolically stand for the festival and let people know that the festival is alive and represent the main parts."

He said the 2021 Sarasota Music Festival accomplishes that goal. The eight-day event will have a series of in-person concerts as well as a lecture that Kahane said will evoke the festival proper, albeit in a scaled-down fashion. Work on the project started a months ago and will included streamed events with smaller,  in-person audiences at Holley Hall.

Angelo Xiang Yu will perform the violin for the first concert. Courtesy photo.
Angelo Xiang Yu will perform the violin for the first concert. Courtesy photo.

The festival will start June 12 with a "Voices of Violin" concert from longtime festival participant Angelo Xiang Yu and pianist Feng Niu performing works from Mozart, Britten and Beethoven. The subsequent three concerts will have performances from senior faculty including Kahane with pieces from Brahms, Chopin, Schumann and more. The final concert will feature the Calidore String Quartet playing Schumann and Mendelsohn.

Kahane on June 13 will host a lecture on the Romantic Revolution in which he plans to play excerpts of piano and give an overview of romanticism looking at a generation of composers who pushed each other to grow. It's a topic Kahane has discussed frequently and is something he says is close to his heart. 

"The very end of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century is the period of music where I have lived most deeply and played the most music," Kahane said. "It seemed like something that's a natural thing to talk about and share. I haven't done something like it at the festival before."

Audiences will then hear music from those composers for the duration of the festival. It was an easier planning process in the sense that there were fewer performances to arrange but the social distancing and health precautions required were trickier to put together than usual. 

Kahane said the concerts and performances have a thread of logic and cohesion in their selection and scheduling that almost delivers a narrative for audiences. 

 "... The idea was finding something that wasn't just a random selection throwing things together but something with a coherence and internal logic for those who want to hear all he concerts will find  satisfying," he said.  

It's not the same as usual but Kahane is thrilled to get back to a place to bring live music to the Orchestra's guests. 

"It's small in quantity but large in its spirit and symbolism in its message that the festival is very much alive," Kahane said. "This was the right choice at the right time."



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