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MailTribune.com
  • Celebrate classical music at Britt Festivals

    The 2014 Classical Festival opens with new music director Teddy Abrams on the platform
  • Each August, the Britt Festivals invites internationally famous pianists, violinists, vocalists — along with a surprise or two — to join its professional 90-member orchestra for a three-week celebration of classical works in Southern Oregon.
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    • If you go
      What: Britt's 2014 Classical Festival
      When: Opens Friday, Aug. 1
      Where: Britt Pavilion, 350 First St., Jacksonville
      Tickets: $45 for reserved seats; $32 for lawn seating; or $10 for ages 1...
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      If you go
      What: Britt's 2014 Classical Festival

      When: Opens Friday, Aug. 1

      Where: Britt Pavilion, 350 First St., Jacksonville

      Tickets: $45 for reserved seats; $32 for lawn seating; or $10 for ages 12 and younger

      Call: 541-773-6077, 800-882-7488 or see www.brittfest.org
  • Each August, the Britt Festivals invites internationally famous pianists, violinists, vocalists — along with a surprise or two — to join its professional 90-member orchestra for a three-week celebration of classical works in Southern Oregon.
    This summer is marked by another extraordinary event: It is the inaugural season for new music director Teddy Abrams.
    "The Britt Orchestra is a spectacular and world-class group of musicians, and it is a tremendous honor to be this organization's music director," Abrams said in a press release. "The programs we've selected are packed with masterpieces and brilliant works of music that reflect the virtuosity and passionate music-making of our orchestra."
    The 2014 season of seven orchestral concerts opens Friday, Aug. 1, in the Britt Pavilion in Jacksonville. The concert will feature the premiere of a composition written by Abrams for the occasion, "Overture in Sonata Form."
    "In the 21st century, composers have access to the broadest of musical dialects and influences as we develop our individual styles," Abrams writes in his program notes. "Unlike the loose uniformity of the baroque, classical and even the romantic periods of music, modern compositional styles range from abstract to neo-romantic."
    This freedom, which also can include using folk and pop music idioms from around the world, also creates the challenge to be original while making human connections — a hallmark of great music throughout history, he wrote.
    "I try to balance several elements in my work: 'Old World' classical techniques, populist styles that I love — from bluegrass and Eastern European folk music to jazz, funk and rock — and a musical language that I hope will feel creative and modern but also understandable and relevant."
    Abrams grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Drawn to music the first time he heard the San Francisco Symphony perform, he studied with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and with David Zinman at the Aspen Music Festival as the youngest conducting student ever accepted.
    He is a former resident conductor of the Budapest Symphony Orchestra (MAV) in Hungary, as well as an accomplished pianist, clarinetist and composer. He co-founded the Sixth Floor Trio, a chamber group that tours widely.
    August and September hold transitions for Abrams. As he starts as maestro with the Britt Classical Festival, he also begins as music director for the Louisville Orchestra. Simultaneously, Abrams concludes his tenure as assistant conductor of the Detroit Symphony.
    As a thank-you and celebration of the upcoming music, Abrams wrote a composition dedicated to the orchestras. Composing the piece was joyous and celebratory work, he said.
    "I hope that I've conveyed a vision of the breadth of our musical world, and perhaps distilled some of the boundless energy that great music-making can and should create for our audiences. This work is for you. It's a huge thank-you for inviting me to join this community and share music with you."
    Abrams also said he understands the responsibilities that come with his positions as music director for Britt and Louisville.
    "My definition of an orchestra's family has always been as broad as possible: The familial fabric connects musicians, staff and existing music patrons with every potential music fan in our region," he wrote.
    At 8 p.m. Friday, Abrams will step up to the platform to lead the orchestra in the premiere of his "Overture in Sonata Form," along with Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite," at the Britt Pavilion, 350 First St.
    Tickets cost $45 for reserved seats; $32 for lawn seating; or $10 for ages 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at www.brittfest.org; at the box office, 216 W. Main St., Medford; or by calling 800-882-7488 or 541-773-6077. Tickets also are available for a pre-concert champagne picnic dinner to celebrate the Classical Festival's opening night.
    Season highlights will include piano soloist Andrew von Oeyen; a new concerto written and performed by banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck; violinist Augustin Hadelich; vocalist Storm Large; and a symphony pops concert with trio Time for Three.
    Before each show, Jefferson Public Radio will host informal conversations about the music and the composers at 7 p.m. in the Britt Performance Garden.
    Along with tickets for individual concerts, Classical Festival lawn passes are available.
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