Kent/Blossom Music Festival offers students opportunity to grow as musician, person

Festival ends Saturday with side-by-side concert with Cleveland Orchestra

By ALICIA BALOG | staff writer Published:

Between 150 and 200 student musicians from around the world auditioned for the five-week Kent/Blossom Music Festival. The Cleveland Orchestra reviewed the video auditions and chose only the best, said Danna Sundet, co-artistic coordinator of the festival.

Only 44 students from Japan and Taiwan to Los Angeles and Chicago studied chamber music at the 46th Kent/Blossom Music Festival.

Sundet said she and co-artistic coordinator Keith Robinson met in early January and divided them into groups based on instruments and requested music and planned the concerts.

The students, who all received some form of scholarship, took master classes and private lessons with members of the Kent State faculty, Cleveland Orchestra and Miami String Quartet. They attended two-hour morning and afternoon sessions every day and worked with groups that performed at the end of two and four weeks.

After the fifth week, students will perform as a chamber orchestra for the Chamber Music Series Finale at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Ludwig Recital Hall in KSU's Music and Speech Building. All student concerts are free to the public.

Sundet said working with world-class musicians gave students, who are their schools' "hotshots," a dose of humility.

"They're just taken down to a more humble place where then they can start growing and getting comfortable again in who they are and melding with each group," she said.

James Patterson, sophomore french horn player from Juilliard School, said because "it's such a small camp and the faculty works with the chamber groups, to be able to be coached by a faculty member and then hear them three hours later in a concert and then at the end get to play with them is cool."

The students will play alongside their coaches and the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Music Center, Saturday, July 27 at 7:00 p.m., ending the festival.

Some students described the program as mentally, physically and emotionally draining but rewarding.

"Doing a chamber festival is more intimate than doing an orchestra festival because we are all constantly up in each others' business and constantly discussing ideas," said bassoon-player Kelsey Weber, masters student from Florida State University.

Daniel Parette, senior clarinet player from New England Conservatory, said he liked the opportunities the festival provided.

"Most of the time, we're on our own in rehearsal, and we don't get a lot of that in school because in school, chamber music, especially for winds in undergrad at least, is not a big part of the curriculum," Parette said. "But here, it's everything. So it's like a learning experience. You get to know yourself really well. Chamber music reveals a lot about a person: their personality, their playing, everything about it."

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