Wednesday, December 11, 2013
By Bob Keyes email@example.com
Everybody wants to grow their budgets, expand their programs, add more bells and whistles.
Festival music director Laurie Kennedy performing with guest musicians
Susan Rotholz, Stephen Manes and Lisa Saffer perform at the 2010 Sebago- Long Lake Music Festival. The concerts are held at Deertrees Theatre in Harrison.
SEBAGO-LONG LAKE MUSIC FESTIVAL
WHERE: Deertrees Theatre, Harrison
WHEN: Concerts at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays July 17 to Aug. 14
HOW MUCH: $25 per concert or a season pass for $100
INFO: 583-6747 or www.sebagomusicfestival.org
• Bowdoin International Music Festival: June 25 to Aug. 3, Brunswick. 725-3895 or bowdoinfestival.org
• Bay Chamber Concerts Summer Festival: July 4 to Aug. 30, Rockport and Rockland. 236-2823 or baychamberconcerts.org
• Portland Chamber Music Festival: Aug. 9 to Aug. 18, Portland. (800) 320-0257 or pcmf.org
Well, not everybody.
The folks who run the Sebago-Long Lake Chamber Music Festival are happy with the way things are, thank you very much.
"We like to keep it small and concentrate on the quality of everything we do so we do not spread ourselves too thin," said Laurie Kennedy, the festival's music director. "That way, we're able to ride out the ups and downs. We're very conservative."
The proof is in the legacy. The festival, which occurs each July and August at Deertrees Theatre in Harrison, celebrates its 40th anniversary this summer. It is among the smaller of the chamber music festivals that happen around Maine over the next eight weeks, and also one of the most successful.
The festival season begins next week, with the Bowdoin International Music Festival opening on Monday. Bay Chamber Concerts summer festival begins in July, and the Portland Chamber Music Festival is on tap in August.
But this summer belongs to Sebago-Long Lake and its 40th anniversary.
Sebago-Long Lake is familiar, comfortable and uncomplicated. Beginning July 17, there's a concert every Tuesday night in the historic old wooden theater at the head of Long Lake.
It's very casual. People bring a picnic and eat out front before the concert. The screened windows usually are propped open, revealing the conversations of the frogs on the nearby lake and summer-night critters. You can hear the wind in the trees and the rain on the roof.
It's friendly and inviting, with an exceptional quality of musicianship.
This year, as in the past, musicians come from all over the country to perform at Sebago-Long Lake, said Kennedy, principal violist with the Portland Symphony Orchestra. She has played at the festival for 36 years, and programmed it for 24. But she does not have seniority. One musician, pianist Stephen Manes, has never missed a summer. He comes out from California every year.
Of the 23 musicians who will perform at the festival's five main concerts this summer, five have been coming to the festival for 25 years or more. Three have been coming for 15 to 20 years. Another five have been coming more than 10.
Familiarity breeds community.
"The nice thing about our festival, the audience and community members know the musicians, and they get to know them as human beings. The musicians stay with host families when they are here, and we have lots of little parties. When the musicians come back here in the summer, it feels like they are coming home," said Kennedy.
On the other hand, Kennedy also recruits newcomers. She likes to infuse the festival with young musicians, to provide a fresh perspective. This summer, five musicians will make their festival debuts.
The festival does a superb job recruiting top-notch musicians. In recent years, the festival has included principal players from the Minnesota Orchestra, the Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis and Portland symphonies, as well as musicians from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Orpheus and St. Luke's Chamber Orchestras, and members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, in addition to many well-known chamber artists.
Maine musicians are well-represented. Four principals from the PSO -- Charles Dimmick, Janet Polk and John Boden, in addition to Kennedy -- perform at the festival, along with Maine-based soprano Lisa Saffer and Colby College educators Yuri Funahashi and Eric Thomas.
Kennedy tries to program a variety of music. She highlights each concert with music for different and oftentimes unusual instrumental combinations. She balances familiar works with lesser-known works.
Over its 40 years, the festival has presented almost 600 different pieces representing nearly 200 composers.
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Stephen Manes, a pianist, comes out from California every year to play in the festival.