Wash­ing­ton Col­lege mu­sic fes­ti­val draws rave re­views


Spe­cial from the Kent County News

— There was lit­er­ally mu­sic in the Kent County air from June 5 to 18, as peo­ple watched stu­dents and mu­si­cians from all over par­tic­i­pate in the fifth an­nual Na­tional Mu­sic Fes­ti­val at Wash­ing­ton Col­lege.

This year, the orches­tral train­ing fes­ti­val fea­tured more than 35 con­certs and 200 open re­hearsals, in var­i­ous parts of the county.

The con­certs and re­hearsals were per­formed by 120 ap­pren­tices, ages 18 and older, play­ing var­i­ous in­stru­ments un­der the guid­ance of men­tors, who are ex­pe­ri­enced pro­fes­sional mu­si­cians. NMF


ex­ec­u­tive di­rec- tor Caitlin Pat­ton said she thinks this year’s fes­ti­val was bet­ter at­tended than last year’s, though the fi­nal count has not been tab­u­lated.

“We did re­ally well,” Pat­ton said. “It was a great sea­son, and every­thing went smoothly.”

At the June 20 Chestertown town coun­cil meet­ing, Coun­cil­man Liz Gross, who serves on the fes­ti­val’s board, said at­ten­dance at fes­ti­val con­certs was up 30 per­cent over last year.

Pat­ton said while the fes­ti­val’s pro­ceeds are be­ing tal­lied, she thinks this year’s num­bers also are higher.

She said sev­eral of the con­certs were sold out this year, like the June 11 con­cert at Wash­ing­ton Col- lege’s Decker Theater that fea­tured Beethoven’s Sym­phony No. 9.

“There wasn’t a seat any­where then,” she said. “So the weeks were fairly steady, although our larger con­certs tend to be bet­ter at­tended. That’s where we had our sell­outs.”

Pat­ton said she has re­ceived pos­i­tive feed­back from the mu­si­cians about this year’s fes­ti­val, both from stu­dents and men­tors.

Com­mu­nity mem­bers in Kent County also par­tic­i­pated in the fes­ti­val but in dif­fer­ent ways.

Re­al­tor Doug Ash­ley said he and Retha Arra­bal housed three stu­dents dur­ing the fes­ti­val’s two weeks, each from a dif­fer­ent state and play­ing dif­fer­ent in­stru- ments.

“We were among other host fam­i­lies, and it went great,” he said. “We re­ally en­joyed hav­ing them.”

Ash­ley said they plan to host next year and one of the stu­dents might stay with them again.

“They were great kids and left us a won­der­ful note thank­ing us,” he said. “Lis­ten­ing to them prac­tice was a treat in it­self.”

Kris­ten Owen, pres­i­dent of the Down­town Chestertown As­so­ci­a­tion, said lo­cal busi­nesses saw a solid amount of cus­tomers dur­ing the fes­ti­val.

“Ev­ery busi­ness is dif­fer­ent and so at­tracts a dif­fer­ent au­di­ence,” she said. “But any event that moves around and through­out the town is good for the busi­nesses.

Owen said she heard June 10 was par­tic­u­larly busy, as fes­ti­val-go­ers took in the weather and “en­joyed what Chestertown has to of­fer.”

As in pre­vi­ous years, Em­manuel Epis­co­pal Church opened its doors to fes­ti­val mu­si­cians for free lunches. Vol­un­teers from Em­manuel, as well as from Sa­cred Heart Catholic Church, Chestertown Pres­by­te­rian Church and First United Methodist Church pitched in to pro­vide the meals.

A num­ber of lo­cal restau­rants also of­fered dis­counts to fes­ti­val mu­si­cians. Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino said he saw crowds of mu­si­cians in Play It Again Sam ev­ery time he went past.

“It’s a great event, great for the town,” Cerino said.

Gross said many mu­si­cians’ fam­i­lies at­tended con­certs. She ex­tended the board’s thanks to the town for the use of the vis­i­tors cen­ter as a stag­ing area for fes­ti­val at­ten­dees.

“We’re just lucky to be work­ing in such a great com­mu­nity,” Pat­ton said. “Chestertown has been amaz­ing, both fi­nan­cially and with its sup­port. We count our­selves lucky to be based here.”

She said next year’s fes­ti­val is set for June 4 to 17.

For more in­for­ma­tion on next year’s Na­tional Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, visit www.na­tional­mu­sic.us

Ad­di­tional re­port­ing staff writer Peter Heck. by

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