School of Music welcomes students, heralds 2015 season

Music School Festival Orchestra students rehearse for a perfomance last summer. The 2015 MSFO’s first Amphitheater perfomance is 8:15 p.m. Monday, July 6.

Exactly 148 musicians, vocalists and pianists will make their way to Chautauqua Institution this summer to study at the School of Music.

The School of Music, known formally as the Chautauqua Music Festival, is home to three student sections: the Music School Festival Orchestra, the Voice Program and the Piano Program. This season, Chautauquans can look forward to numerous performances, recitals, concerts and master classes.

Oliver Dow, managing director of the School of Music, said a summer at Chautauqua allows students — whose ages range from late teens to early 30s — to focus solely on making music, which pushes them ahead in their careers. The Chautauqua atmosphere and the audience students have access to is crucial in this process, he added.

“We’re trying to transition them,” Dow said. “An audience at an event is what is needed to take students to professionals.”

The Instrumental Program — the MSFO — is led by Music Director Timothy Muffitt, and comprises about 80 students. The MSFO will have six concerts in the Amphitheater, all at 8:15 p.m. Mondays beginning July 6. The second half of the season changes up slightly to allow for the students to break off into a chamber music phase.

Voice Chair Marlena Malas and Don St. Pierre, the Voice Program’s head coach, will lead around four dozen students. Lectures will also be given throughout the season, the first of which will be a talk regarding vocal health given by otolaryngologist Tom Abelson on Friday.

The Piano Program will see more than 20 participants, who will study with interim co-director John Milbauer. Master classes will be given through the Piano Program — pianist and professor Evelyne Brancart kicks off the season with a recital on June 30 and a master class on July 1.

In addition to traditional programming within the School of Music, Dow said this year will be the third go at an inter-arts collaboration — this year, Carmina Burana.Around 50 students from the instrumental, piano, voice, acting and arts programs have also opted to work together in small groups to create a performance that blends their talents.

“There’s a clear excitement for it. We thought there would be but we didn’t know,” Dow said. “Can a set of people make something together? This is art in the making.”