by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
This weekend, more than 200 young musicians will gather on the Domain to settle into their summer homes in campus dorms. The students, however, are not on the Mountain for summer classes at the University. They are here to take part in one of the nation’s premier summer training programs in orchestra and chamber music.
Since 1957, musicians from all over the world have converged on the Mountain for the Sewanee Summer Music Festival (SSMF), which serves as a home for students to work closely with renowned artist-faculty, develop leadership skills and refine their approach to repertoire.
Each summer, the festival maintains two full orchestras, each rehearsing daily. The orchestras perform weekly to promote high standards of performance and introduce a distinguished array of internationally renowned guest conductors to the community.
Held the first week of the festival is the Jacqueline Avent Concert Competition, which was established by Walter E. Nance and Mayna Avent Nance in memory of Jacqueline Avent. The competition serves as an opportunity for students to earn scholarships for future seasons. Winners are featured with the orchestra during the final week of the festival.
The festival also promotes student learning through chamber music ensembles, which develop leadership skills, foster collaboration among artists and promote high-level musical thinking.
In addition to orchestral and chamber music opportunities, students selected to study composition at Sewanee will see their own compositions performed, work shopped and coached. This program is capped at four student composers in the composition track to allow ample time for reading sessions, rehearsals and performances.
During the 2019 season, the Sewanee Summer Music Festival will explore the beauty of the natural world and the initiate connection between music and nature. Orchestral literature and chamber music programming will reflect a broad range of music that is inspired by the beauty of the natural surroundings.
Every SSMF student receives several chamber music assignments during the festival working regularly with a faculty coach, along with time to work independently.
At the end of each week, ensembles perform for the public on Student Chamber Music night at 7 p.m. each Friday.
This year’s season of the SSMF will begin at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 15. Season tickets ($125) and tickets for individual events ($20) are on sale now. For a complete list of events or to purchase tickets, visit www.ssmf.sewanee.edu. The season will run through Sunday, July 14.