Education at the Eastern Music Festival

Eastern Music FestivalNow in its 51st season, the Eastern Music Festival features world-renowned classical soloists and chamber musicians from around the world. Very often, musicians of their caliber are in a given city only long enough to rehearse and perform their scheduled concerts. Not so with the Eastern Music Festival. Everything revolves around educating students aged 14-22, and these guests come as much to teach as to perform.

A diverse student body

This year the student body comprises 177 students, 14 from the US other countries: Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Canada, Germany, and Mexico. In previous years, students have come from Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Switzerland, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Israel.

And that doesn’t count the foreign students who are enrolled in American schools and therefore don’t need to travel so far to get to Greensboro for the summer.

Although all of the students who come to the US especially for the Eastern Music Festival arrive speaking some English, the local newspaper headline rightly proclaims that the only common language is music. Foreign students not already fluent improve their English skills as a bonus.

A hard-working student body

Eastern Music FestivalThe student body is divided into two orchestras. Each one presents weekly concerts during the festival. The music they play gets more difficult from week to week.

Contrast that with the typical college or university orchestra that prepares several weeks for each concert! The Eastern Music Festival’s students, including numerous students not yet in college.

Yet they prepare concerts on a professional schedule under four different conductors. Some of them compete for the right to perform as soloists on the last two nights of the Young Artists Orchestra Series

Besides orchestral musicians, the student body includes many pianists. They participate in weekly piano recitals and a competition, as well as joining with the wind and string players on five student chamber music recitals.

All students get private lessons and ensemble coaching from highly respected performers and teachers every instrument. As I mentioned earlier, the world renowned guest soloists stay throughout the festival as part of its faculty. Four pianists, four violinists, and a cellist are presenting master classes this year.

So what do the students do when they’re not performing, rehearsing, or taking lessons? They attend other concerts. And of course they practice a lot! The more self-disciplined students spur the rest to keep up with them.

As intense as the musical experience is, students try to balance it with socializing and relaxing. Decisions. Decisions.

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