Music at Penn’s Woods, a professional classical music festival presented each June by Penn State’s School of Music, begins tonight on the University Park campus.
“First of all, it’s not as the name suggests,” says conductor Gerardo Edelstein, with a laugh. He means the concerts are not out in the woods.
“It’s an indoor festival,” he says, although the musicians did give one free outdoor mini-concert June 10th, which drew 800 people. That mini-concert was held among the plants at Penn State’s Arboretum. But the Penn’s Woods Festival Gets started in earnest tonight with the first of four concerts in Esber Recital Hall on the University Park campus.
“The great thing about the festival,” Edeldstein says, “is that it’s a group that’s made up with our faculty, some graduate students, and some of the best community players in town.” He says the festival also draws former PSU students and other musicians who’ve heard about it and want to come and play.
For current Penn State students, Edelstein says, it’s a great opportunity to play alongside faculty musicians, and to be paid for their work.
“This is a professional festival”, he says, “so every single member of the orchestra gets paid.”
The Music at Penn’s Woods Festival consists of two Wednesday night chamber music concerts (this evening and June 25), and two Saturday night concerts by the Penn’s Woods Festival Orchestra (June 21 and 28).
The chamber music concerts, Edelstein says, include a variety of musicians, many from Penn State's music faculty, performing in duets, trios, quartets and other groups. Tonight’s chamber music concert features Mozart’s Piano Quartet No. 2, as well as music by George Friedrich Handel and Russian composer Anton Arensky. One week from tonight, the chamber music concert will feature soprano Sarah Shafer in a Schubert song, as well as many Penn State faculty members in music for voice, wind instruments, viola and piano.
The Penn’s Woods Festival Orchestra concerts begin this Saturday, with guest trumpeter Langston Fitzgerald. He’ll play the solo in a trumpet concerto by 18th century Bohemian composer Johann Neruda. That concert will also include the catchy and fun Danzon No. 2 by Mexican composer Arturo Marquez, and the Symphony No. 7 by Antonin Dvorak.
One week later, on Saturday, June 28, the orchestra will meet again for the final concert in the Penn’s Woods Festival. It features three faculty members from Penn State’s School of Music as soloists: violinist James Lyon, cellist Kim Cook, and pianist Timothy Shafer. They’ll play the solos in the Triple Concerto by Beethoven. The concert will also include the Symphony No. 3 by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.
Of all the music he’ll conduct in this year’s Penn’s Woods Festival, Music Director Gerardo Edelstein says he can’t choose a favorite piece. “There is so much music out there to perform. And we get the chance to pick one piece among so many, I fall in love with each piece I conduct. And I enjoy every single moment of the music.”
You’ll find the concert schedule and ticket information for Music at Penn’s Woods at https://mpw.psu.edu.