WATERVILLE — The 10th annual Atlantic Music Festival kicked off Saturday with a concert debuting new chamber music from emerging composers at Lorimer Chapel on the Colby College campus in Waterville.

Guests attending the free afternoon concert were treated to 16 original pieces, the first being “Parallel Lines” from composer Xiangyu Zhou and a quintet of musicians playing the flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano. The piece fluctuated between calm and chaotic as the musicians built tension with their instruments, hitting crescendos, and then rolling into softer and longer notes.

“One of the most compelling parts of this festival is that you get to see world-class musicians for free,” said Douglas Mark, one of the festival’s coordinators. Over the course of the summer, Mark said, the public will be able to see these rising talents – one composer being just 16 years old – perform 50 new pieces of music.

Violinist Anat Kardontchik takes a nap backstage Saturday before her performance at Colby College’s Lorimer Chapel.

But older pieces from composers such as Amy Beach, David Ludwig and Aaron Copeland, among several others, also will be revived.

“It’s definitely a blend of old and new,” Mark said.

The festival, which began at Colby in 2009, brings together student musicians and professional instructors to play dozens of concerts around campus, most in Lorimer Chapel but others in venues such as Given Auditorium, the Strider Theater and the Marchese Blue Light Pub.

The concert series is broken up into five divisions: chamber music, full orchestra, composition, conducting and opera.

Neha Gandhi, another one of the festival’s coordinators, said that because the series is free, it really puts the focus on the composers and musicians.

“It creates a really cool, unique ecosystem,” Gandhi said. “It allows the students to network and collaborate with one another.”

Gandhi said while all of the pieces set to be debuted had to be submitted before the festival, the students will have a chance to perform music they’ve created over the summer at the July 22 salon at the Marchese Blue Light Pub.

“It’s kind of like an open-mic night for our musicians,” Gandhi said.

Peng-Chain Chen practices her piece backstage before Saturday afternoon’s festival kickoff concert.

In the festival’s first nine years, over 350 performances have taken place, with participating musicians coming from every continent except Antarctica.

The festival has many recurring events, such as the AMF Orchestra performing sets of eclectic programs at 7 p.m. Saturdays and AMF’s Chamber Music Series playing at 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays. Additional performances also might develop as the festival progresses.

The festival continues through July 29.

Emily Higginbotham can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

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