Next month the nationally recognized Eastern Music Festival and summer education program gets underway in Greensboro. In addition to ticketed events, there will be dozens of free programming opportunities for residents, some of which occur before the gates even open.
EMF kicks off its 62nd season next weekend with the annual Chamber Crawl — brass ensembles, string quartets, and more performing for free at eight different downtown venues. Later this summer, musicians are sent to every library in the city to perform chamber music concerts open to the public. And at the end of the four-week festival, a free day-long open house on the Guilford College campus will showcase students, faculty, and their ensembles.
About 280 young musicians are currently enrolled — back to pre-COVID levels — with new students this year from Guilford College’s Early College program, a winner of NPR’s From The Top competition, as well as former students who’ve returned to teach.
Executive Director Chris Williams says, for many years, EMF alumni energy and awareness have contributed to the program’s success.
"They bring a world of experience back to the festival," says Williams. "And it’s a real motivational moment for our students to say, ‘That teacher was just like me eight years ago, ten years ago.’ There’s that continuity and that circularity that continues through the whole process."
And EMF has evolved as the music industry has evolved. Faculty member Jake Fridkis teaches classical flute but will also share his experience performing on hip-hop and R&B albums by Drake, DJ Khaled, and more. Williams says there will be several new faces this year, including Brazilian classical guitarist, singer-songwriter, and composer, Badi Assad.
"So, what it’s doing for us is it’s showing our guitar students that they have multiple careers — that it’s a broad palette," says Williams.
The internationally acclaimed soloists set to perform this summer at EMF include pianist Awadagin Pratt, cellist Julian Schwarz, and violinist Gil Shaham.
EMF’s Chamber Crawl is June 3, 2023. The official festival begins June 24, 2023. It’ll run through the end of July.