Sarasota Music Festival 2024
Our 2024 Festival celebrates a tremendous milestone - six decades of bringing some of the world’s greatest musicians and teachers together with younger colleagues, to share their wisdom and experience in an intensive three weeks of non-stop learning and music-making. The celebration will begin with a special concert honoring the past, present, and future of the Festival. New faculty members and Festival alumnae Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir and Marianne Gedigian will join long-time faculty member and alumna Jean Schneider and SMF music director Jeffrey Kahane on this special occasion.
At the core of the 2024 Festival programming will be a showcase of the artistic freedom and electricity that results when composers with unique musical voices interact with performers whose talents and imaginations are equally exceptional. We will welcome several faculty artists who are composer-performers, and who exemplify precisely this kind of musical alchemy.
For centuries, the art of improvisation was central to the training of musicians, in fact, improvisation was something audiences expected and cherished as part of the listening experience. MD Jeffrey Kahane, an experienced and enthusiastic improviser, will join with new faculty members Tessa Lark, violinist, and cellist/composer/singer Mike Block in improvised performance, and in workshops for the fellows on learning to improvise. The workshops will be open to the public, and will demonstrate how even a small experience with improvisation can enrich and enliven the performance of standard repertoire.
Tessa Lark, who is as much at home in the world of bluegrass as she is with Beethoven, will bring her skills to works from the classical realm, as well as the rich tradition of American folk music. Mike Block will share his gifts as a singer-songwriter, and work with the fellows to create a group improvisation to be performed in the context of an orchestral program. Master musician Robert Levin, world-renowned for his astonishing improvised cadenzas for Mozart’s concertos, will share his expertise in this skill which, after many decades spent languishing on the sidelines of the classical music world, has come back to life in a big way.
Many of the works programmed will also highlight the transformative magic that occurs when differing musical genres are brought into intentional and dynamic relationship with each other. Long-time faculty member Charles Neidich will perform the Florida premiere of the original version of Copland’s iconic Clarinet Concerto - a work which was composed for one of the greatest of all jazz masters, Benny Goodman. The work brings Copland’s particular brand of lyricism, his tremendous rhythmic vitality and his deep roots in the classical tradition, into a conversation with the language of jazz.