The Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival on June 5 through 17

This year’s 33rd Annual Chesapeake Chamber Music (CCM) Festival will be held in Talbot County, MD from June 5 through June 17, 2018.  Musicians from the world’s stages will perform the works of both familiar and lesser known composers from the past and present. During two music-filled weeks, artists and musical ensembles will perform nine concerts featuring a wide range of works by Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Mahler, Norman, Prokofiev and more. Among the 15 musicians participating in the Festival are celebrated flutist Tara Helen O’Connor and her friends who will bring the flute, violin, viola and cello together in a new exciting way. The opening concert at Christ Church in Easton will feature the works of Beethoven and Brahms, with a pre-concert commentary by Jonathan Palevsky of WBJC, and will conclude with a festive reception at Mason’s Redux 2017.  The closing concert, “Stradgrass,” will highlight a new musical art form, classical music with a bluegrass twist and an array of instruments, including winds, strings, piano, and this year, a vocalist will electrify several concerts.  Each concert tells a story through carefully matching composer, artist and instrument, creating something unique and memorable with each performance.

Photo by Cal Jackson

To wholly understand the dramatic effect of live chamber music, audiences must both listen and observe.  After three centuries, audiences around the world are still awed by the intimacy of chamber music.  As its name would suggest, chamber music was created to grace rooms rather than halls. Festival goers will enjoy returning to the smaller and more intimate venues of the Tred Avon Yacht Club, Oxford Community Center, and Academy Art Museum, as well as Easton’s Christ Church and Trinity Cathedral. The spacious Avalon Theatre will feature the 2018 Chamber Music Competition Winner as part of its special concert during Week Two.

Sponsors of this year’s Festival include the Talbot County Arts Council and the Maryland State Arts Council. Additional generous financial support from corporate, public and private benefactors enables Chesapeake Music to offer affordable tickets for Festival concerts and recitals; open rehearsals are free to the general public. Tickets go on sale in April 2018.  For additional information, visit or call 410 819-0380. Experience the Extraordinary at Chesapeake Music’s 2018 Chamber Music Festival.

Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition Draws Musicians from Across the US

Five world-class ensembles will compete for one of the world’s largest chamber music prizes at the upcoming 2018 Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition, to be held at the historic Avalon Theatre in Easton, MD, on April 7, 2018 starting at 1 p.m.  The applicant trios, quartets and quintets represent a wide range of instrumental combinations:  winds, strings, brass, and mixed instruments, including percussion and some of the finest young professional chamber music performers in the world.

This year’s ensembles include District5 of Washington, DC; Merz Trio of New York City, NY; Sapphirus Quartet of Ann Arbor, MI; Ajax Quartet of Denver, CO; and Trio St. Bernard of Taos, NM.The average age of an ensemble must be under 31, and some have included members as young as 21. The finalists will compete for the Lerman Gold Prize of $10,000 and the Silver Prize of $5,000.This biennial Competition is sponsored by Chesapeake Music.

District5 of Washington, DC ( is a daring wind quintet that specializes in new music and new transcriptions. They are recipients of a 2016 CMA Classical Commissioning Grant with composer Evis Sammoutis. District5 has recently performed at the U.S. Department of State, Library of Congress, Barns at Wolf Trap, DC Kosciusko Foundation, and the Washington Arts Club and frequently collaborates with composers and other ensembles.

Ajax Quartet of Denver, CO ( was founded in 2016 at the University of Colorado. As an emerging string quartet, its members have performed in various constellations at such institutions as the Aspen Music Festival, Pacific Music Festival, Moritzburg Festival, Sarasota Music Festival, Santa Fe Pro Musica, Dallas Chamber Symphony, University of Michigan, Schwob School of Music, and the Juilliard School. The Ajax Quartet has thrilled audiences at home in Colorado, as well as in California and Washington as part of the Apollo Arts and Concerts in the Barn concert series.

Merz Trio ( of New York City, NY is a collaboration between a pianist, violinist, and cellist. The trio was the recipient of the Judges’ Special Recognition Award at the 2017 Plowman Competition and was a finalist for a 2017 Tarisio Young Artists Grant for their show ​Macbeth. In 2018, Merz Trio travels to Melbourne, Australia as one of eight trios selected to compete in the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. Merz Trio’s projects promote dialogue between seemingly disparate music, texts, and artifacts.

Sapphirus Quartet of Ann Arbor, MI was formed at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. Prizewinners at the 2017 Dale and Nancy Briggs Chamber Music Competition, the Sapphirus Quartet increasingly aims to push the boundaries of what it means to be a classical saxophone quartet through new music performances and premieres, while still remaining true to the saxophone’s 20th Century French and European roots.

Trio St. Bernard ( of Taos, NM was formed at the Taos School of Music, has gained acclaim for their creative and energized performances of the piano trio repertoire, as well as their visionary programming of original arrangements. Trio St. Bernard was ensemble-in-residence at the Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival, where they performed with violist Hsin-Yun Huang. Trio St. Bernard is proudly named after the Hotel St. Bernard in the Taos Ski Valley where the Taos School of Music has been hosted every year since its inception in 1963.

A preliminary judges’ panel of eight notable musicians headed by J. Lawrie Bloom, founder and artistic director of the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival and the Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition, pared the field of applicants to five finalists in a blind review of applicant CD submissions. The five finalists will be judged by Marcy Rosen, founding member of the world-renowned Mendelssohn String Quartet and artistic director of Chesapeake Chamber Music; Tara Helen O’Connor, founding member of the Naumburg Award-winning New Millennium Ensemble and head of the wind department at Purchase College Conservatory of Music; and Thomas Sauer, pianist and founder and director of the Mannes Beethoven Institute at Mannes College and a faculty member of both Vassar College and Mannes College, as well as a prodigious performer.

The audience attending the Competition on April 7 will also have an opportunity to judge each ensemble at the end of each concert.  The winner of that judging will receive the Audience Choice Award, announced along with the Gold and Silver Prizes at the end of the evening.

Free public concerts will be held on Sunday, April 8 and will include Ajax Quartet at 1:00 p.m. at Temple B’nai Israel in Easton; Sapphirus Quartet at 2:00 p.m. at Church of the Holy Trinity in Oxford; District 5 at 3 p.m. at St. Marks United Methodist Church in Easton; and Merz Trio at 4 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church in Cambridge.

Tickets to the Chamber Music Competition are $12 per person and free to students.  Tickets will be sold at the door at the Avalon Theatre on April 7, 2018, beginning no later than 12:30 p.m.  The program starts at 1:00 p.m. For further information, visit or call the Chesapeake Music office at 410-819-0380. The Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition is underwritten by the Talbot County Arts Council, the Maryland State Arts Council, and private benefactors.

For further information about attending the Competition events, visit or call 410-819-0380.

Chesapeake Music Expands Musical Offerings on Mid Shore

Chesapeake Music is on the move, expanding its offerings in new and exciting ways.  The organization was renamed in 2015 to better reflect its overall focus of being a source for live performing arts with year-round concerts. In addition to individual concerts, Chesapeake Music exports something of the Chesapeake’s uniqueness to audiences and to musicians worldwide who take part in its annual Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival every June, the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival every Labor Day weekend, a biennial international Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition, and the new Jazz on the Chesapeake concert series. Chesapeake Music’s YouthReach Program works with area schools to bring a greater exposure of classical and jazz music to area students and its First Strings Program continues to inspire and excite 3rd and 4th graders in area schools by introducing them to the violin.

According to Courtney Kane, President of Chesapeake Music, who moved to Easton with her husband Scott from Chevy Chase, MD in 2010, “What astonished me was the quality of music the organization provides – internationally-recognized musicians performing here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The quality has to do with the recognition of the performers who come here. They play in the great halls of music around the world.”

Courtney Kane, President of Chesapeake Music

A number of renowned musicians have graced the stages of Chesapeake Music’s concerts and festivals. Among them are Kim Kashkashian, violist, who performs regularly at Chesapeake Music’s Chamber Music Festival each year. She received a Grammy Award in 2012 for Best Classical Solo Instrumental and in 2016 was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Another talented performer at Chesapeake Music’s Monty Alexander Jazz Festival is vocalist René Marie, who in both 2013 and 2017 had Grammy nominated songs.

Kane, who was born and raised in New Orleans, home of Mardi Gras, Dixieland Jazz and Creole cooking, grew up loving music. Her mother took her children to the symphony programs for children, introducing them to classical music. In addition, her exposure to Dixieland led her to her love of jazz music. Kane comments, “The city has a musical background. I thought living there that what we had was what everyone had.”

Kane, who enjoyed a long career in information technology sales management with IBM and Digital Equipment (DEC), also has managed individual VIP tours in France and for a time lectured on Impressionist art on riverboat tours on the Seine and Rhone rivers. She adds, “It was happenstance that we met friends who were active in Chesapeake Chamber Music. I got involved with it and the more involved I got, the more attached I got. I served as the Gala Chair and Treasurer before becoming Board President in 2016.”

Chesapeake Music is dependent on its volunteers, sponsors, donors, and committed supporters. The organization is always looking for volunteers with experience. Kane comments, “Arts volunteers are about passion. It takes faith and money to grow an arts organization. We have a rich source of volunteers in the communities we serve, but with our expanded offerings, we are always looking for new volunteers.”

In addition to its volunteers, what is unique about Chesapeake Music is the intimacy of its venues. Easton’s vibrant arts community lends itself well to the concerts we provide. These small halls, like the Academy Art Museum, The Avalon Theatre, and local churches, enable the audience to sit a few feet from the performers to take in the concert. Kane credits Executive Director Don Buxton who knows and works with every outstanding production technician within a day’s drive. She adds, “Our promise is to give our audience reliably the best in live performances, delivered locally, and at a reasonable cost. What we hope is that you will make an occasion of every event.”

The organization’s growth began when the annual Chamber Music Festival grew from a one-day festival in 1985 into a two-week event held in early June each year. Today, the Festival includes 13 concerts, recitals and open rehearsals in venues ranging from concert halls to churches, museums and waterfront estates. In 1997, the Festival established the concept of a satellite concert outside its base in Talbot County. Satellite concerts have been held in Oxford, St. Michaels, and more recently Queenstown.

In 2002, the organization expanded its operation to include the Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition, a competition for young emerging chamber music ensembles. In 2004, the first biennial Competition became international in scope, drawing from international conservatories. In 2006, the organization was approached by musician Merideth Buxton, Don Buxton’s wife, to create an outreach program, now institutionalized as First Strings. The short-term goals of First Strings Program are to help elementary school students in third or fourth grade to improve listening, gain self-confidence in performing, use teamwork to exhibit cooperation and self-control, and to have fun while learning the skills needed to play the violin. The program also offers YouthReach concerts featuring world-class musicians demonstrating and discussing their instruments with young musicians.

In July 2008, Eastern Shore Chamber Music Festival became Chesapeake Chamber Music, Inc., to better reflect the organization’s geographic location and scope near the Chesapeake Bay. That same year, Executive Director Don Buxton attended the Chamber Music America’s Annual Meeting in New York City where jazz had been a regular part of the programming.  After discussing the idea among board members about introducing jazz to the organization’s repertory, the following year, in 2009, Chesapeake Chamber Music offered a single concert featuring the renowned jazz pianist Monty Alexander and his trio to test the waters. Since then, that one concert has grown into the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, featuring seven jazz events over Labor Day weekend each year, and drawing enthusiastic audiences from throughout the region. Most recently, Jazz on the Chesapeake expanded its programs by creating a jazz concert series to be held throughout the calendar year.

Kane reflects, “As we look to our future, our new name reflects the vision of Chesapeake Music – to continue to grow as the premier provider of professional live music performances. We continue to look for ways to be relevant in our diverse community.” She adds, “In the future, we plan to keep our programming fresh with new artists coming every year. We are planning farther out with our events. We also continue to collaborate with the Talbot County Arts Council and other organizations, as we are doing this year with our Artists-in-Residence program with the local schools.”

Chesapeake Music’s upcoming international Chamber Music Competition in April is one of the best competitions for young musicians in the world. Many great artists’ careers have been launched after receiving awards at the Competition, like the Harlem Quartet, who won the Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition in 2013, along with The Calidore String Quartet, who received the 2017 Lincoln Center Emerging Artists Award.

For further information about Chesapeake Music and upcoming events, visit or call 410-819-0380.

Without Compromise, From Miles to Wynton to Sean Jones

Don’t miss the Saturday afternoon, September 2nd performance of the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival when the remarkable Sean Jones and his group take the stage at the Avalon Theatre at 2:00 p.m.

Mr. Jones, raised in northeast Ohio, was originally a gospel-bred drummer who discovered jazz and the trumpet when he was 10 after hearing Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue and Amandla.  Jones says, “Davis’s overall vision, the way he changed with the times, the purity of the sound is probably the single most powerful influence on me as an artist.” Jones found his jazz epiphany at 19 listening to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, which sparked his desire to explore the spirituality of the music.

Photo by Jimmy Katz

Jones perfected his technique through studies with Trumpeter Esotto Pellegini and William Fielder and developed his ears in jazz listening to Woody Shaw, Freddie Hubbard and Clifford Brown.  He earned his master’s degree from Rutgers University and began his ascent into the upper echelons of the jazz world.  He landed a six month stint with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra which led to an offer from Wynton Marsalis to be lead trumpeter for the LCJO, a position he held for six years.  Jones cites Marsalis for his “personal work ethic and ability to break barriers”  as having a deep effect on him.  Jones states, “When I saw Wynton’s picture on a classical album, I know there were no limitations on me; everything could be within my grasp.”

A highly respected and in-demand musician and composer,  Jones has been featured with artists including Charles Fambrough, Joe Lovano, Jimmy Heath, Dianne Reeves, among others.  Marcus Miller, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter selected Jones for their Tribute to Miles tour in 2011.

Involved in jazz education, Jones has taught at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and he is now chair of the brass department at Berklee College of Music.  He serves as artistic director of both the Pittsburgh and Cleveland jazz orchestras and conducts master classes around the world.  This is his fifth year as a member of the SFJAZZ Collective.

In May, Jones recorded his eighth album with Mack Avenue Records, titled Live From Jazz At The Bistro.  Jones noted,“I’ve been wanting to do a live album for awhile.  I wanted to capture the band’s energy live.”  The band, together for eleven years, includes pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Obed Calvaire.  Jones comments, “Having a band this long is really rare in jazz these days.  When we play, it’s like a conversation, like second nature.”

Be sure to be at the Avalon Theatre on Saturday afternoon, September 2nd to experience the music of the Sean Jones Quartet.

The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival is partially underwritten by the Maryland State Arts Council and the Talbot County Arts Council. Jazz on the Chesapeake is a program of Chesapeake Music. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 410-819-0380.

By Susan Koh

Brunch, Cocktails, and Jazz at the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival

Start your Saturday off right with the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival’s Jazz Brunch on Saturday, September 2nd, at Hunter’s Tavern, located in the Tidewater Inn.

From noon to 2 p.m., enjoy impeccably crafted brunch dishes while listening to the musical stylings of the Conservatory Classic Jazz Band. It’s a surefire way to unwind after an exciting Friday night—don’t forget Bria Skonberg will be “Shaking Up the Jazz World” at 8.p.m. at the Avalon Theatre!

The Conservatory Classic Jazz Band was formed in 2003, to bring traditional jazz to Washington D.C. audiences. From New Orleans style to small-group swing, the six-piece ensemble performs a variety of early jazz and American Standards. Their repertoire encompasses the music of Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Benny Goodman, and other early jazz pioneers, in addition to composers of the Great American Songbook, like George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Hoagy Carmichael.

Photo by Joel Albert

Befitting the afternoon’s live entertainment, the New Orleans-inspired brunch menu at Hunter’s Tavern has something for every palate, from the Short Rib & Grits Bowl with caramelized onions, a fried egg, and crumbled goat cheese, to the Barbecue Shrimp, served in a peppery butter sauce with French bread, and the Fried Oyster Salad, with Applewood bacon, cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, and roasted mushrooms in a mustard vinaigrette. As a popular dining choice in Easton, reservations are recommended.

And if you’re looking for something to do in between the afternoon and evening performances—trumpeter Sean Jones performs at 2 p.m. at the Avalon Theatre and jazz vocalist René Marie takes the Avalon stage at 8 p.m.—why not relish in a drink or two? Go to the Tidewater Inn for Cocktails and Jazz at 5 p.m., with wine and rail cocktails for $5, draft beer for $4, and $2.50 bottles of domestic beer. Mingle on the idyllic terrace, libation in hand, as the Conservatory Classic Jazz Band returns for another set! As the ensemble continues to perform jazz standards, indulge your appetite with flash fried barbecue cauliflower, local oysters—fried or on the half shell—guacamole and chips, or Sriracha fries, loaded with Monterey Jack cheese, scallions, bacon, and sour cream. Reservations appreciated, but not required.

To make a reservation for the Jazz Brunch or Cocktails and Jazz (or both!), call Hunter’s Tavern at 410-822-4034.

The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival is partially underwritten by the Maryland State Arts Council and the Talbot County Arts Council. Jazz on the Chesapeake is a program of Chesapeake Music. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 410-819-0380.

By Becca Newell

A Community Concert with the U.S. Navy Band Commodores

For more than 40 years, the U.S. Navy Band Commodores have been performing the best of big band jazz. If you haven’t yet experienced a live concert by this vibrant, dynamic group—or if you’re itching to see them again—look no further than the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, held at Easton’s Avalon Theatre over Labor Day weekend.

The Commodores’ performance, which is free and open to the public, begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 2nd.

Formed in 1969, the Commodores—also known as the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Navy—have welcomed a few famous faces into its organization.

“Some of America’s greatest jazz and big band musicians have spent at least a portion of their careers serving as musicians in America’s Navy,” explains Senior Chief Musician William Mulligan. “Artie Shaw, Clark Terry, and John Coltrane to name just three.”

Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Band Commodores

In appreciation of their former bandmates, Mulligan says the 18-member group often features music from these prominent jazz figures in their concerts. The heart of their style, however, draws from classic American big bands, like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, and so many more.

“The Commodores’ repertoire spans over 100 years of jazz history,” he adds.

With a style that’s rooted in an eclectic mix of the traditional sounds of New Orleans’ jazz through to the swing era, the Commodores also blend more contemporary elements of music into their repertoire and incorporate exciting jazz vocal arrangements. The group composes and arranges a lot of their music library, in addition to performing modern compositions written by its members.

Throughout 2017, the Commodores are celebrating the centennial of Ella Fitzgerald. Mulligan hints that attendees of Saturday’s community performance will quite possibly hear tunes associated with the “First Lady of Song” and the “Queen of Jazz.”

“We also take the opportunity to honor our veterans at all of our concerts,” Mulligan says.

Jazz on the Chesapeake is a program of Chesapeake Music. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 410-819-0380.

By Becca Newell

Bria Skonberg: Shaking Up the Jazz World

As one of the most influential artists in jazz, Louis Armstrong helped shape the swing era. Though arguably all musicians within the genre draw influences from his sound and style, trumpeter/vocalist Bria Skonberg is steadily earning the reputation as Armstrong’s modern-day counterpart.

The Canadian-songwriter opens this year’s Monty Alexander Jazz Festival with Shaking Up the Jazz World on Friday, September 1st.

From an outsider’s perspective, a female trumpeter might seem unusual, given the fact that it’s such a male-dominated field. But not for Skonberg, who says she was surrounded by female trumpeters since she first picked up the brassy instrument in seventh grade.

“I didn’t honestly think it was that strange,” she says. “I understand that there’s an imbalance for sure, but the ones that are out there are really good.”

Although the modest musician wouldn’t exactly place herself in that category, it seems others are happy to do it for her—and justifiably so. Most recently, Skonberg’s rising-star status was confirmed when she received a 2017 Juno Award for Jazz Vocal Album of the Year for her 2016 crowd-funded album, Bria.

“Basically, it’s a Canadian Grammy,” she explains, adding that she also released an album earlier this year, shortly after signing with Sony Music Masterworks’ OKeh Records. “It’s been a wild ride.”

Skonberg will reflect on that musical journey during her upcoming concert, in which she’ll undoubtedly showcase her notorious “trad fusion” sound. She’ll be joined by what she affectionately calls her “A Team” of musician-friends.

Her specialty, she says, is old jazz—proven by her solid repertoire of 1900s to 1940s tunes—but her songs draw influence from a variety of genres, from blues to Dixieland to pop.

“I like to be influenced by what’s around me,” she says. “That’s jazz. You listen and react.”

A newcomer to the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, Skonberg says she is excited to be involved with such a respected endeavor and was honored when Alexander, whom she refers to as a “giant in jazz,” invited her to participate.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” she adds. “Having played at hundreds of festivals, ultimately the vibe comes down to the people that are presenting them and the people that are there. And I get a good feeling about this one.”

Jazz on the Chesapeake is a program of Chesapeake Music. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 410-819-0380.

By Becca Newell

New Faces and Old Favorites at Monty Alexander Jazz Festival

The sensational Monty Alexander returns to Easton this Labor Day weekend for the eponymous three-day jazz festival, along with his hand-picked selection of musical companions—all newcomers, save for past festival favorite René Marie.

“Bringing all these guests and friends to Easton makes for a fun happening,” Alexander says, excitedly. “[The festival] has an unbelievable history; it’s gone so well. I’m proud of that.”

Monty Alexander (Photo by Jerry Michael)

On Friday, September 1st, trumpeter/vocalist Bria Skonberg brings her trademark “trad fusion” to the stage for her 8 p.m. performance, Shaking Up the Jazz World. Though her music draws upon elements of early jazz, blues, swing, and even pop, the Canadian songwriter is heavily influenced by the legendary Louis Armstrong, whom she frequently draws comparisons to.

The fun continues into the weekend, starting with Saturday’s free community concert at 11 a.m., featuring the United States Navy Band Commodores. The 18-member group, recognized as the Navy’s premier jazz ensemble, will perform an eclectic mix of traditional big band music and exciting jazz vocal arrangements.

Trumpeter Sean Jones and his band take the stage Saturday afternoon for their 2 p.m. performance, titled Without Compromise, From Miles to Wynton to Sean Jones. Attendees can expect to hear the evolution of music from their recently released album, “Live from Jazz at the Bistro.”

“As the music is performed in each city, new life is breathed into it as each audience helps to mold the character of each piece,” says Jones.

Sean Jones (Photo by Jimmy Katz)

Jazz vocalist René Marie wraps up Saturday’s lineup with her 8 p.m. performance, A Remarkable Experience as René Marie Electrifies. With a style that borrows elements from folk, R&B, classical, and country genres, Marie’s body of work explores the human experience. Through her creative lyricism and sensual vocal delivery, Marie offers an enlightening experience for audience members.

Headliner Monty Alexander closes out the festival weekend on Sunday, September 3rd, with a “Sunday matinee spectacular,” kicking off at 2 p.m. The Jamaican-born musician is renowned for his vibrant personality and musical expression that result in an energetic, swingin’ performance. For this year’s festival, Alexander has invited a slew of musicians to join him on stage for The River, a reference to his album, released in the early ‘90s. Alexander says this performance will be somewhat of a revisitation of his repertoire and a reflection of his long-standing career in which he has shared the stage—or recording studio—with many of the jazz greats.

“Let me take you on a beautiful journey up the river that is about renewal and inspiration,” he adds, describing the concert. “I’m going to be a little bold and say ‘you don’t want to miss it!’”

Jazz on the Chesapeake is a program of Chesapeake Music. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 410-819-0380.

By Becca Newell

Week Two of the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival Opens with a Czech Concert

Pianist Robert McDonald

The second week of the renowned Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival will begin with a lively Czech-inspired concert and reception on Sunday, June 11 at 3 p.m. at the Aspen Institute, situated on the banks of the Wye River.  A Czech-inspired picnic will follow the concert and will include such delicacies as Czech-style latkes and meatballs, a variety of savory open-faced sandwiches and dips, wild mushroom tarts and salmon croquettes, as well as trifles, bread puddings and compotes for dessert.

According to Festival pianist Robert McDonald, “The Sunday concert at the Aspen Institute is drawn from the works of the three most important Czech composers—Dvorak, Janacek, and Smetana. Their styles succeed at being both strongly individual and complimentary all at once. National folk influences along with heartfelt emotional directness represent the defining strengths in their music.”

The Smetana G Minor Trio that closes the June 11 program is a tribute to Smetana’s beloved four-year old daughter who had died and, according to McDonald, is one of the truly memorable works in the Romantic chamber music literature.

During the week, Festival-goers will then be enthralled by the energetic music of Italian, French, Hungarian and Russian composers at concerts to be held at the Oxford Community Center, the Academy Art Museum and the Avalon Theatre.  And, after enjoying the music of Italian composers Vivaldi and Tartini at the Oxford Community Center on Wednesday, June 14 at 5:30 p.m., concert-goers can make reservations afterwards for an optional, Italian-themed dinner created by Chef Mark Salter at the Robert Morris Inn.

McDonald adds, “Though most concert programs that we play are constructed of works by composers from a variety of national backgrounds, it is always refreshing to put together recitals that draw exclusively from a single country as inspiration. This offers listener and performer alike a chance to compare the enormous range of musical styles that exist under the umbrella of a shared language, history, and national customs.”

Musicians performing at the Avalon Theatre at the opening concert of this year’s Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival. Photo by Cal Jackson.

The Festival wraps up with the Angels Concert at Watermelon Point in Easton featuring music of Latin America, with a catered reception by Gourmet by the Bay. The reception will feature such Eastern Shore favorites as crab-n-corn fritters with red pepper remoulade and charred vegetable gazpacho with lump crab, as well as such Latin favorites as fried plantains with a spicy pineapple relish and a tapas buffet including vegetable empanadas, chorizo stuffed mushrooms with queso blanco, and jerk chicken drummettes. Desserts will include salted dulce de leche tarts, banana coconut pudding shots, chocolate tres leches cake bites, and key lime raspberry tarts.

Sponsors of this year’s Festival include the Talbot County Arts Council, the Maryland State Arts Council, The Star Democrat, Talbot Spy, and What’s Up Media. Additional generous financial support from corporate, public and private benefactors enables Chesapeake Music to offer affordable tickets for Festival concerts and recitals; open rehearsals are free to the general public. 

This year’s concerts offer the opportunity to travel the world through an incredible variety of music with internationally-acclaimed artists right here on the Eastern Shore.  To purchase tickets, visit or call 410 819-0380. To make reservations for the optional fixed-price dinner at the historic Robert Morris Inn, call 410-226-5111. Registrations for the Angels Concert must be made by June 12.

Chamber Music Kicks Off Extraordinary Two-Week Festival On June 4

Festival-goers will experience the extraordinary as they travel the world through classical music at Chesapeake Music’s Annual Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival, which will be held from June 4 through June 18, 2017.  Artistic Directors Marcy Rosen and J. Lawrie Bloom have developed an exciting program featuring 10 concerts over two music-filled weeks, including the premiere of a Primosch Quintet commissioned for Chesapeake Music.

The Festival includes acclaimed musicians from the world stage, renowned musical ensembles, and a range of familiar classics—Beethoven, Mozart, Gershwin, Ravel, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and more from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Hungary, Russia, Latin America, France and the United States.  Each concert represents composers from a different country.  Several concerts will include receptions with food and beverage pairings echoing the music of that country. 

Kim Kashkashian, an internationally-recognized voice on viola who will perform at the “Mozart by the Sea” concert at the Tred Avon Yacht Club (left) and Violinist Tessa Lark who will appear at the “Mozart by the Sea” and Christ Church USA concerts (right).

The opening concert at the Avalon Theatre will whet Festival-goers appetites for what’s to come with a potpourri of music from around the world and a pre-concert reception where guests can mix and mingle with old friends.  Jonathan Palevsky of WBJC will provide live concert commentary that night to kick off the Festival. On Friday evening at Christ Church, Easton, concert-goers will be treated to music from the United States, including the magic of Gershwin’s Lullaby for string quartet and Barber’s Adagio for string quartet. Thanks to the generosity of Arnold and Zena Lerman, this concert will also feature the premiere of a Primosch Quintet for oboe, violin, viola, cello and piano, commissioned for Chesapeake Music and performed by Peggy Pearson, Diane Walsh, Catherine Cho and others.  In addition to “Mozart by the Sea” at the Tred Avon Yacht Club, during the first week, concert-goers can also travel to Trinity Cathedral to enjoy Germany’s Beethoven and Brahms.

Sponsors of this year’s Festival include the Talbot County Arts Council, the Maryland State Arts Council, The Star Democrat, Talbot Spy, and What’s Up Media. Additional generous financial support from corporate, public and private benefactors enables Chesapeake Music to offer affordable tickets for Festival concerts and recitals; open rehearsals are free to the general public. 

This year’s concerts offer the opportunity to travel the world through an incredible variety of music with internationally-acclaimed artists right here on the Eastern Shore.  To purchase tickets, visit or call 410 819-0380.