This will be “a special year,” exclaimed Judith Miller Jones, board president of Jefferson County-based Friends of Music. When asked why, Jones eagerly shared three reasons why the 2022-23 season presents an opportunity for all music lovers in the region.
First comes the music — of course. The just-announced, five-concert season kicks off on September 25 (Saturday) with a performance by the Two Rivers Chamber Quartet. The Quartet will play music written by two composers — Franz Shubert and Amy Beach — who may have lived a century apart but whose work has some things in common. The season will also include three performances by the Two Rivers Chamber Orchestra (which is part of the Friends of Music, a non-profit organization). A concert presented by special guest Winchester Musica Viva, a Virginia-based chamber choir, completes the season program.
This season also marks a special milestone for Friends of Music: the 10th anniversary of Jed Gaylin’s musical leadership of the organization. Gaylin, an acclaimed conductor, holds degrees from Oberlin and the Peabody Institute. In addition to being Music Director of the Friends of Music organization, Gaylin holds similar roles with the Hopkins Orchestra of Baltimore (one of the nation’s leading university orchestras) and the Bay-Atlantic Orchestra of New Jersey. Gaylin is passionate about the value of live performance: “In our era of TV,… film, and radio, we should cherish our live performances: theater, music, dance. Unlike mass media, these live art-forms demand interaction with an audience and allow the audience the opportunity to take part in creation, not merely to consume a product.”
In addition to the concert season, the Friends of Music organization supports music education in local schools. In 2021, they awarded more than $4,000 to help nine teachers across the region pay for musical instruments and related resources. An additional $4,500 in scholarships was awarded to nine high school seniors to support their music studies. New for this season, a Shepherd University intern will join the Friends of Music team to learn firsthand what it is like to operate an arts organization, thanks to a partnership with Dr. Kurtis Adams, Director of the Shepherd University School of Music.
As their season starts up, Jones noted that Friends of Music will be taking advantage of improvements made during the past few years of pandemic-induced downtime, including a new online ticketing system. In this special year, Jones concluded, the Friends of Music will be particularly eager to welcome new faces and talents to their programs.
For more information on Friends of Music performances, educational grants, and membership/support opportunities: FriendsWV.org, 304-876-5765, or info@FriendsWV.orgBy Staff Contributor