The Eastern Music Festival is a traditional gathering of the finest classical performers in the world. This 56 year old music festival never fails to bring the best solo, chamber and orchestral music to the triad area. EMF is a five week festival that showcases 60 plus performances, allowing over 200 young musicians to take the stage alongside some of the world’s most renowned soloists to give them, and the vast community that supports them, an experience they will never forget.
Guilford College hosts the festival, inviting one famous artist each week to spend time with the budding musicians enrolled in the program’s masterclasses. These classes give the students a chance to learn from a true expert.
One of the talented musicians that graced EMF with her presence this year is a woman who has spent her whole life working on her passion and dedicated herself to the violin, Midori Goto. Hailing from Osaka, Japan and wearing a soft pink floral dress in all her elegance, Midori took the stage.
She began studying at a young age under the tutelage of her mother. At just 11-years-old, Midori was invited to make her debut at the New York Philharmonic’s annual New Year’s Eve concert for which she garnered a standing ovation for her performance. Her first of many accolades to come. Midori went on to perform a Grammy-winning recording of a recital containing sonatas by Bloch, Janacek and Shostakovich under conductor Christoph Eschenbach. In 2016, she released a 10-CD set called “The Art of Midori.” Later in the year, she went on to perform a concerto written by Peter Eotvos specifically for her titled “DoReMi.” Aside from her musical career, she has also started a variety of nonprofit organizations and currently holds the Jascha Heifetz Chair at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.
Conductor Gerard Schwarz warmed up the orchestra, which always gives me great satisfaction to hear for some odd reason. Midori took her stance and drew her bow across the strings softly, beginning their recital of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Suite from “The Snow Maiden.”
This is one of very few orchestra performances I have been to, and almost certainly the first I have willingly gone to. Admittedly, I had some preconceived notion about events like these, mainly that the music would lull me to sleep. I did not know anything about Midori Goto before the moment she began to play. At first, I was still looking around at the audience, admiring the architecture to whatever amateur degree of knowledge I have of it. It was when I actually watched her play, seeing the meticulous movements she made and how it blended in with the orchestra that made me realize the appeal of these concerts. I found myself captivated at the grace of it all orchestrated together. Her preciseness was unimaginably sharp, and her performance was met with a much deserved ovation from the audience.
The night’s second guest performer was Hunter Bockes, the most recent winner of the Rosen-Schaffel Competition in Boone. He is in his first year at Northwestern University where he is working on his Masters of Music in Saxophone Performance. Before Northwestern, Hunter studied at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. There he performed in various events. He was a part of multiple award-winning sax quartets like Nois, Atchara Saxophone Quartet, and Minerva Saxophone Quartet among others. Outside of his current school groups he has also performed in many local ensembles and orchestras and performed alongside renowned saxophonists Jean-Michel Goury and Kenneth Tse.
Hunter showed his skills as he played Glazunov’s Concerto in E Flat. The orchestra went on to play Mussorgsky/Ravel’s Pictures at an Exhibition.
Eastern Music Festival continues throughout the month of July, and I highly recommend taking the time to hear some beautiful music.