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The Roanoke Symphony’s David Stewart Wiley will lead the 11-day musical gathering.
David Stewart Wiley
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Classical music will once again resonate through the performance halls of Floyd.
Yet this time there’s a familiar face at the conductor’s stand.
David Stewart Wiley, conductor and music director of Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, leads Virginia’s Blue Ridge Music Festival, an 11-day gathering of master musicians and talented apprentices — referred to in the program as academy fellows — who will give concerts in Floyd EcoVillage, Natasha’s Market Cafe, Chateau Morrisette Winery, Jacksonville Center for the Arts, Dogtown-Sun Music Hall and other places.
“This is a labor of love and something that I hope will be a lasting resource,” Wiley said.
The schedule includes four large orchestra concerts covering Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and more, a master class about bluegrass music, a reprise of Jeff Midkiff’s concerto for mandolin, “From the Blue Ridge,” and even new music composed just for the occasion by WVTF-FM (89.1) music director Steven Brown called “Fanfare for Floyd.”
“It’s really festive,” said Wiley of Brown’s composition. “Think John Williams’ Olympic theme.”
At another concert, called “Rising Stars,” nine apprentice musicians will perform solos taken from the concertos of Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Debussy and others. “Audiences can hear the stars of the future.”
The musicians are scheduled to join in Floyd Country Store’s upcoming Friday Night Jamboree.
Though this festival is in its first year, it’s technically not the first time an orchestra comprising masters and apprentices has invaded this mountain town.
In 2011, classical musicians Caitlin Patton and Richard Rosenberg swept into Floyd County and organized the two-week National Music Festival, bringing more than 100 musicians in for 250 open rehearsals and more than 20 concerts. The event was enthusiastically received in Floyd and considered a success — but the festival didn’t bring in enough for Patton and Rosenberg to earn salaries.
At the end of that year, the couple moved to Chestertown, Md., Patton’s hometown, and took the festival with them. The National Music Festival continues there, on the Washington College Campus.
But the National Music Festival demonstrated that there was excitement about bringing classical music to Floyd, Wiley said.
The new festival, however, has a more realistic budget and realistic goals for ticket revenue, he said. “The business plan needed to be suited to Floyd.”
The festival has an $88,000 budget, with $50,000 already raised through a year’s worth of fundraising, Wiley said. The rest needs to be raised through festival passes and ticket sales. So far the festival has sold 85 passes, said executive director Jennifer Brooke.
Gathered together, the festival’s masters and apprentices form a 55-piece orchestra. Wiley said festival organizers predict an economic impact for the county between $50,000 and $100,000, based on the musicians’ presence there for 10 days and the audiences the events will attract.
Many of the events take place at the Floyd EcoVillage, which Wiley described as the festival’s home. All rehearsals on the schedule are open to the public.
A one-hour concert for families called “Classical Music Meets Jazz in the Mountains” happens June 6 at the June Bug Center, with one ticket ($11 advance, at door $14) good for admitting an entire family. The final concert, featuring Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and Elgar’s Enigma Variations, happens June 9 at Floyd County High School.
Should the festival prove a success, the organizers hope to hold performances in the future in places such as Pulaski and Radford.
“Our dream after this first year is to expand outside of Floyd,” Wiley said.
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