NFMC celebrates 70 years at Chautauqua



A gold-plated Miller Bell Tower pendant hanging from her neck, Ruth Ann McChesney recalled her favorite moments at Chautauqua. From cabin stays to boat rides with her family and concerts to church services, for more than 70 years, Chautauqua has always had a special place in McChesney’s heart.

McChesney, the membership and education chair of the National Federation of Music Clubs, is especially excited to combine her love of music and Chautauqua during this weekend’s Federation Days. On Saturday and Sunday, the NFMC will celebrate their 70th annual Federation Days with two days full of music.

“What a joy to still be using music in my life since I was a little girl,” McChesney said. “It’s been a big part of my life as has Chautauqua. Knowing that we are helping young musicians to further their education and to continue in their musical endeavors is encouraging to those of us who have been in the business for many years. It’s also encouraging to see all ages assisted in this goal of making music a big part of their lives.”

At 2 p.m. Saturday in McKnight Hall, 13 musicians from the School of Music — all recipients of NFMC scholarships —  will be giving a recital.

Representing every program of the School of Music, Yuta Takano, Zachary Stump, Lindsay Mecher, Brant Blackard, Adam Rothenberg, Alvin Zhu, Anna Dugan, Caitlin Gotimer, Lilla Heinrich-Szász, Rachel Howsmon, Davis King, Samuel Levine and Tyler Zimmerman will take to the stage to showcase their talents.

Founded in 1898, the NFMC is the world’s largest philanthropic music organization with a focus on American music and musicians. With more than 135,000 members and active participation in 43 states, the NFMC dedicates itself to not only fostering a love for music in youth, but also maintaining and nurturing an affinity for music throughout all ages.

Back for her third season in Chautauqua, recent Columbia University graduate Anna Dugan said that the variety of Saturday’s recital will please the audience.

“It’s an amalgamation of a lot of different performers and getting to have a concert where you get to experience all the different student that are benefitting from this scholarship is a wonderful thing,” she said.

At 5 p.m. Sunday in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall, NFMC’s 2013 Young Artist baritone winner Mark Gardner will perform. A two-year contract and $15,000 are the prizes for winning the NFMC competition. Gardner has an extensive repertoire and has been featured in the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Opera Kitchener), Marcello in Puccini’s La bohème (Opera York), Sharpless in Madam Butterfly (Opera Kitchener) and many more, including appearances throughout Europe.

McChesney said Gardner is “quite the showman” and will be giving a performance audiences do not want to miss.

With two days filled with exceptional music, McChesney said that this weekend’s events are sure to unite audiences and musicians.

“Chautauquans will get to hear a total variety of instrumental as well as vocal music and these are top notch music school students,” McChesney said. “They’re all marvelous musicians and what a thrill to see them and to be a part of their lives and get to hear them.”