“You can play almost anywhere with four people,” remarked Katie Tertell (featured image, above), artistic director and organizer of the Appalachian Chamber Music Festival. “You can be in an intimate space and the audience can be there with you. When I play informal house concerts, people say it’s such a different experience to be this close. Classical music [in an orchestral format] can seem distant, but chamber music is much more intense. The orchestra, as a large group, is very powerful, but with chamber performance, there is a strong sense of the shared connection with the other performers. Each player has an individual voice.”
Like so many others, Tertell notes the beauty and history of Harpers Ferry and the lower Shenandoah Valley as she discusses the choice to locate the festival here. “Music plays an important role in Appalachian culture. The classical music I play uses the same instruments and has the same voices. My dream is to bring world class artists and music together, to celebrate the history and culture of the area.”
“This was completely the right time,” says Tertell, explaining how the idea of this new festival came alive. “People are open to new things now and it seems a bit insane, but I wanted to take a leap of faith to follow through on what was driving me artistically to expose audiences to different music. We need art as a society. We are hungry for the live experience, to live in a society.”
“We’re testing what works this year with workshops and a variety of venues and performances. All of us have played together, so we’re comfortable with each other. By the start of the festival we’ll have had some pretty intense rehearsals in Denver and Utah, and we’ll be in Harpers Ferry for a week of practice at the PATC [Potomac Appalachian Trail Club] cabin. It’s pretty rustic, but we’ll make it work.”
Katie Tertell remarked that the world of chamber music performers is a small community, but it’s also very global. “I bump into the same people as I travel to perform. We are very close friends.” The performers she has gathered together for the first season of the Appalachian Chamber Music Festival are a stellar group.
The Appalachian Chamber Music festival kicks off with the New Beginnings concert on Thursday, August 19 at 7 pm at the Barns of Rose Hill and continues through Sunday with additional events in Charles Town, Harpers Ferry & Shepherdstown. Visit the Festival’s website for the the full schedule and tickets.