Some of the festival muscians pose on the plaze in front of St. Peter’s Chapel in Harpers Ferry. From left: Danielle Weibe-Burke (violist), Sam Suggs (bassist), Katie Tertell (cellist, festival artistic director), Rachelle Hunt (violinist). Photo credit: Brian Christopher
“We’re regular people — you can come up and talk to us,” remarked Katie Tertell as she was introducing a quartet about to play a preview of the music you can hear at the Appalachian Chamber Music Festival (ACMF) this month. Tertell’s comment was in the context of describing her approach to chamber music and her vision for the festival. “Chamber music is simply music that’s intended to be performed in a small space — and that can include a backyard. It’s not meant to be pretentious or even necessarily formal.” As Tertell describes it, her vision of the festival is to open up the chamber music experience and connect with audiences that might not be familiar with the genre. This year’s festival, the third season, will feature sixteen musicians in twelve performances taking place between August 17 and 27.
Places that Inspire
The theme of the 2023 festival is “Places That Inspire” and features works inspired by places of natural and historic beauty. Highlights of the festival will include performances of Igor Stravinsky’s “Dumbarton Oaks” inspired by the historic Washington DC home of the same name, Schubert’s “Trout Quintet” inspired allegorically by rivers and waterways, and other works.
During the festival, audiences will experience intimate performances by world-class musicians — a mix of music written for small ensembles including string quartets, trios with piano and strings, and larger works with strings, brass and winds. Programs will range from classical favorites to arrangements based on traditional music, folk tunes, and fiddle music. The festival will also present two world premiere performances this summer: a piece featuring classical banjoist John Bullard written by Steven Snowden and a commissioned work by composer Mark Boden.
Festival Finale — Free & Outside
The festival will conclude with a free concert event, hosted in partnership with the National Park Service and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Along with the festival’s musicians, this event will feature the old-time fiddler Earl White and his String Band, a reflection on Harpers Ferry as a “Place That Inspires” by Nancy Cook who was a recent participant in the National Park Service’s Artist in Residence program at Harpers Ferry.
Festival tickets are affordable through the generous support from the community and grants from the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation and the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture, and History. ACMF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and welcomes individuals to sponsor the festival at various levels (see “donate” link on the website).
Opening night is Thursday Aug 17 at 7:30 pm in Charles Town at Zion Episcopal Church. The Friday Aug 18 concert is “Behind Every Great Woman…” (7:30 pm) in Harpers Ferry at Camp Hill-Wesley Unitied Methodist Church. There are 2 concerts on Saturday Aug 19, “Duo Delights (11:00 am) in Shepherdstown at The Station and “Elevation” (7:30 pm) in Winchester (Virginia) at the Goodson Chapel – Recital Hall at Shenandoah University. Sunday Aug 20 also has 2 concerts, “Travel the World Through Music” (11:00 am) in Purcellville (Virginia) at the Franklin Park Arts Center and an encore of festival favorites at the Shepherdstown Opera House (7:00 pm). Wednesday Aug 23 is “Cassado and his lost Iberian Legacy” (7:30 pm) In Shepherdstown at the Byrd Center at Shepherd University. Thursday Aug 24 is “The Natural World” (7:00 pm) in Berryville (Virginia) at The Barns of Rose Hill. Friday Aug 25 is “Water and Beauty” (7:30 pm) in Shepherdstown at the Frank Center stage at Shepherd University. There are 2 concerts on Saturday Aug 26, “Duo Delights” (11:00 am) in Shepherdstown at The Station and “Regions of the World” (7:30 pm) in Charles Town at Charles Washington Hall. The finale is “Appalachia in America” on Aug 27 at 3:00 pm in Harpers Ferry, outside at the Mather Training Center (51 Mather Place).
For more info and online ticket purchase, visit AppalachianChamber.org.By Staff Contributor