MANCHESTER -- When it comes to music and a long running music festival, life does not begin at 40. The Manchester Music Festival will observe this milestone year with its annual summer concert series, which launches today, July 3. And to mark its past with a nod to the future, it has called the eight-concert series "Generations," to recognize where it's come from and where it hopes to go.
"The idea was simple," said Ari Rudiakov, the artistic director of the music festival for the past 14 years. "We are standing at least on the shoulders of of two generations -- donors, musicians, volunteers, the business community. How do you interpret that in musical terms?"
He starts with a line-up of concerts that offers variety, with a healthy dose of traditional chamber music favorites, and a group of "Young Artists" who will have their own parallel concert series.
That fits, because sinced the music festival began its life in 1974 -- founded by pianist Eugene List and his wife, violinist Carroll Glenn -- it has stressed teaching up-and-coming musicians and instruction along with its performances.
Rudiakov's father, Michael Rudiakov, a cellist, joined the teaching faculty in 1983 and assumed the leadership of the festival in the mid-1980s, following the deaths of List and Carroll. Ari Rudiakov in turn, took over the reins in 2000, following his father's passing.
To mark the 40th anniversary season, the festival will pull out all the stops, Ari Rudiakov said.
Twenty-eight guest artists will perform this summer at the Arkell Pavillion on the campus of the Southern Vermont Arts Center each Thursday from July 3 through Aug. 14.
"What we're doing this summer is steeped in a lot of tradition by design," Rudiakov said, "with some points of reference that will appeal to a broad audience, and some that won't."
On July 3 Christopher O'Riley (a last minute replacement for pianist Peter Serkin) and David Deveau will perform with the Manchester Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Rudiakov. The program includes two of J.S. Bach's double piano concertos along with "Alla Burletta" from Coleridge Taylor-Perkinson's "Generations: Second Sinfonietta for Strings."
Piano will return to fill the second concert, on July 10, when pianist Vassily Primakov will perform solo works by Chopin and pieces with Calvin Weirsma and Joana Genova on violins, Amadi Azikiwe and Ariel Rudiakov on violas, along with cellists Benjamin Capps, Yehuda Hanani and Caroline Stinson.
A tap dancer, Devin Johnson, will join in a family concert set for Saturday, Aug. 2. Johnson acted in several theater productions at nearby Burr and Burton Academy as a student there not so long ago, and thsi concert will honor the memory of a local artist, Brian Sweetland, who died tragically last year. A sweeping retrospective of his art work will open that same day at the Southern Vermont Arts Center.
"Across the board, the quality will be as good or better than it's ever been," Rudiakov said.
Meanwhile, the Young Artists will also set up shop and perform at the Riley Center for the Arts on the campus of Burr and Burton Academy at 7 p.m. each Monday from July 7 though Aug. 12.
The Young Artist program is a full-scholarship, six-week intensive chamber music study session for string players and pianists between the ages of 19 to 30. It's a deep dive into chamber music with an emphasis on performance, which sets it apart from many other comparable programs, said Christian Schrock, a cellist and doctoral student at the University of Cincinnati, who will attend the program for a third straight year.
Most schools only ask their students for one or two performances over a comparable stretch, but here, he has a show to prepare for each week, he said.
"As a performer, everybody deals with nerves," he said. "The only way to get better at that is to perform more. You have to bring your ‘A' game each week."
The students -- about 15 -- study with the music festival's resident faculty, and they practice for six to seven hours a day, in addition to the rehearsals for their concerts, he said.
Admission is by audition, and the skill level is uniformly high, said Schrock, who plans to teach music as well as perform when he finishes his doctorate.
"You get to know everybody, and you really get to build friendships," he said. "You live with each other for six weeks and have fun together and do what we all love -- music."
If you go ...
Manchester Music Festival
‘Generations' concert series
Where: The Arkell Pavillion on the campus of the Southern Vermont Arts Center
When: Thursdays July 3 to Aug. 14.
Most concerts start at 7:30 p.m.
The July 10 concert will start at 8
Tap dancer Devin Johnson will perform at 3 p.m., Aug. 2.
Concerts: July 3 -- Christopher O'Riley and David Deveau, Bach and Coleridge Taylor-Perkinson
July 10 -- Pianist Vassily Primakov, Chopin solos and ensemble pieces
July 17 -- Shanghai Quartet
July 24 -- German Romanticism
July 31 -- Pianist MichaelBrown, all-Beethoven program
Aug. 7 -- Pianist Michael Brown, Mendelssohn and Giannini
Aug. 14 --"A Night at the Opera"
Young Artists Concerts
Where: Riley Center for the Arts
at Burr and Burton Academy
When: 7 p.m. each Monday from July 7 though Aug. 12
Admission: $38 for "Generations;"
$48 for Beethoven , July 31;
$20 for family concert, Aug. 2;
$10 for Young Artists concerts,
or free for youth under 18