Appalachian Summer Festival

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Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs

Jamal Sykes
Staff Writer

Expanding the boundaries of preservation and advancing visual and performing arts, the Appalachian Summer Festival began in 1984 at Appalachian State University as a showcase for chamber music.

Now in its 33rd year, the Appalachian Summer Festival has become one of the biggest festivals in the Southeast United States. The festival has been featured in the New York Times’ “Summer Stages” Issue multiple times, and this is due in part to the festival housing a variety of works and performances for people of all backgrounds and ages.

These inclusive showings include dance, film, music, theatre and visual art at the festival. Staying true to its Classical chamber music roots, this year the festival boasts performances from the Broyhill Chamber Ensemble and the Eastern Festival Orchestra, with special guest and world renowned violinist Midori Goto.

The Seventh Rosen-Schaffel Competition for Young and Emerging Artists will also be occurring at this year’s festival in partnership with the Hayes School of Music. The competition allows for young classical musicians to showcase their talent for a grand prize of 2,000, and a full performance at next year’s festival with the Eastern Festival Orchestra.

While there are only two dance performances at the Appalachian Summer Festival this year, they are not to be overlooked. International dance company, MOMIX, will be gracing the festival with an impeccable audiovisual performance titled “CACTUS,” that will include colorful production and fire dancing.

Dancers from the Charlotte Ballet will also be showcasing a variety of duets that range from classical to contemporary.

If you are a fan of film and want to see phenomenal works from up-and-coming filmmakers there is an abundance of material to view this year from the Young People’s Global Film Series and the Weicholz Global Film Series, including Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, “Theeb,” and Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or Winner “I, Daniel Brooke.”

If watching people on the silver screen isn’t your thing, you can watch them on stage with The National Black Theatre Festival production of “Maid’s Door,” a heartfelt tale of a family’s struggle with their mothers Alzheimer’s Disease. And if that’s too heavy of a topic for you, Lees-McRae Summer Theatre will be performing: “Legally Blonde: The Musical.”

Partner to the performances and film showings are three visual arts installations. “Summer Time In the Mountains” features pieces from local Appalachian artists in the Smith Gallery of the Schaefer Center for Performing Arts. Outside of the Schaefer Center, will be an educational outdoors sculpture competition called: “Sculpture Walk.” The Summer Exhibition Celebration at the Turchin Center for Visual Arts is near these two events and will features a variety of works from local, regional and international artists. The program that typically garners the most attention is the Schaefer Popular Series, which consists of live music from notable award winning musicians.

This year’s headliner is legendary progressive-rock band YES; the festival being one of the many stops on their YEStival Reunion Tour. Other artists include Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers, Chris Botti, Jennifer Nettles and Sutton Foster.

The Appalachian Summer Festival aims to do more than just entertain their audience; they also wish to educate them. According to their website at appsummer.org, it aims to: “promote young American artists,” while focusing on the “overall university mission” of App State in an effort to build and educate festival-goers.

There are also a handful of interactive workshops for children who have an interest creating art at the festival, as well as lectures about the showcased works.

Notable educational events from this year’s festival include the 2017 Appalachian Energy Summit keynote speakers Gina McCarthy and Majora Carter.  There is the boundless Lunch & Learn Series, which will feature guest artists and performers, such as Jackie Alexander of The North Carolina Black Repertory, and Director of Music Education at the Hayes School of Music Susan W. Mills.

The performances this year will occur at five different venues around Boone, and the Appalachian Summer Festival has partnered with a variety of restaurants and hotels for those who plan on staying in the city for a few days. The eye-catching beauty of Grandfather Mountain and Blue Ridge Parkway is just miles away from the festival, and you can unwind at the slew of breweries that call Boone home.

The 33rd Appalachian Summer Festival begins June 27 with the Young People’s Film Series and concludes on Aug. 2 with YES’ star studded YEStival Tour.



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