'Britt Institute in the Gardens'
The Britt Institute — that's the educational arm of the Britt Festivals — will unveil the first-ever installment of a new summer concert series at Eden Valley Orchards Tuesday, June 30, with the Spanish-flavored Duo Flamenco. Dubbed "Britt Institute in the Gardens," the series will bring a mix of jazz, classical and other music on various Tuesday evenings throughout the summer.
Proceeds from the shows will benefit 2009 Britt Institute summer program scholarships, which help enable young people to study and play with professional musicians.
All shows will begin at 7 p.m. at Eden Valley Orchards, 2310 Voorhies Road, Medford. Wine and beer will be available, along with soft drinks and light food.
"We had four or five of these shows last year," said Sarah King Cole, Britt's marketing manager. "It worked out well, so it's expanded from there."
The concerts will feature Britt Institute faculty, alumni and current students as well as performing artists who have relationships with Britt, said Joelle Graves, Britt's education director.
"It's an opportunity to highlight the faculty and alumni of our programs," she said.
She said the best attended show last year was the Arianna String Quartet.
"We were pretty sure people would come out for jazz," she said, "but the classical was a pleasant surprise."
Britt officials hope to raise about $5,000 for scholarships.
"The request for scholarships doubled this year," Graves said. "Other music organizations around the country are having the same thing happen."
Britt's Jazz Camp is going on now, Saxophone Camp takes place in July, and String Quartet Academy happens during Britt's classical season in August. The jazz and saxophone camps cost $375. The more extensive string quartet session costs $2,000 and include residence in a dormitory at Southern Oregon University in Ashland.
Opening the series on Tuesday, June 30, will be Duo Flamenco, with Grant Ruiz on guitar and vocals and SOU's Terry Longshore on cajóon, percussion and vocals. The duo will perform music associated with southern Spain. Longshore has a long history of involvement with Britt camps and special events.
"He's a fine teacher as well as a fine performer," Graves says.
On July 7 Britt Jazz Camp alumnus John Storie will return to the Rogue Valley with his group, New West. Perry Smith and Brady Cohan will join Storie in performing original music, combining the foundations of jazz with elements of blues, rock and folk.
Baritone Michael Morris and soprano Madeline Abel-Kerns will be featured in a program called "Opera in the Gardens" July 14. This reunion of two of Britt Institute's faculty members will showcase solos and duets from such beloved operas as "Aida," "Tosca" and more.
On Aug. 4 the Arianna String Quartet, Britt Festival's regular faculty quartet-in-residence, will return to the orchard on the heels of the well-received show they did last summer. Pre-concert music will be provided by young musicians from Britt's String Quartet Academy.
On Aug. 18 the headliner is 13-year-old saxophonist Gabe Young and his band. Young, of Ashland, attended the Britt Jazz Camp for three years after passing an audition officials required him to take because of his age (he passed easily).
"They listened to him play," Graves recalls. "They said, 'Oh.' "
Joining Toung will be Wesley Wade on guitar, Kristina Meyer on bass, Ian Wurfl on drums and Rafferty Swink on piano.
Young is at Jazz Camp now and has made it into both the number one combo and the number one big band, Graves said.
The series will conclude Sept. 8 with the guitar ensemble Lineage. Gary Wade, Justin Wade and Wesley Wade are three generations of guitarists (father, son and grandson). Wesley is an alumnus of Britt's Instrumental Jazz Camp.
Cole says there's a good chance the concerts could become a regular feature of the summer schedule.
"We'll see how it goes," she says.
Adamission is $10. Tickets are availble at the door. See Brittfest.org or call 690-3852.