Killington Music Festival: Learning the art of collaboration and community

Killington Music Festival students teach children of the Rutland County Boys & Girls Club about their stringed instruments during a performance of Mozart’s “Hunt” Quartet in 2016. Public faculty concerts begin June 30

By JIM LOWE
The Lowe Down

For Daniel Andai, Killington Music Festival’s artistic director of five years, collaboration is the aim, and essential.

“For me, I can’t imagine anything in music more valuable than the skill of chamber music — knowing your instrument so proficiently and then being able to communicate your ideas, either through words or through music in a rehearsal, and convey that to an audience — and have a platform to do that,” the violinist, concertmaster of the Miami Symphony, said recently by phone.

“When you are in a chamber music setting, it really charges the musicians with responsibility, making sure that they know exactly what’s going on at all times, not only in their part but in everybody else’s part, and that becomes evident immediately,” Andai said. “I remain steadfast that chamber music is one of the most important skills for a musician to master.”

This summer, Andai and Killington’s other 14 top-level string and piano faculty will be sharing that message with more than 50 students, high-school age to professional, from throughout the United States and abroad.

Now in its 36th season, Killington Music Festival will present its faculty in “Music on the Mountain” concerts at 7 p.m. Saturdays June 30-July 28 at Killington Resort’s Ramshead Lodge, opening with a solo recital by French pianist Simon Ghraichy. He will also join faculty members in a special free-will offering chamber music concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 5, at Grace Congregational Church in Rutland.

Killington’s students will be featured in the free Young Artists Series, also at Ramshead, at 7 p.m. Fridays July 6-20, plus Wednesday and Thursday, July 25 and 26. For Maria Fish, now in her 18th year as executive director, it is another series of student concerts that are even more important.

“It’s my treasured community student outreach concerts,” she said. “It’s my students going to the hospital and playing, it’s my students going to the nursing homes and seeing the facial expressions of the residents change.”

Outreach concerts, also presented at the Rutland Free Library and Marble Valley Correctional Center, are part of the young musicians’ development.

“I like the diversity of our student population, and the community that we work very hard to instill,” Fish said. “It’s very important that we make this like a family.”

Andai has not only been a Killington faculty member for more than a decade, he first came as a student, giving him added insight. Aside from his administrative duties, his private students are foremost.

“Those students I have one on one. It’s all about them — in a very focused way,” he said.

Coaching chamber music requires a somewhat different approach.

“The way I speak to them needs to make sense quickly and effectively so that I’m keeping the attitude of the group positive and always nurturing,” he said, “but also pushing them so that they exit their comfort zone and can do new things. That’s how you learn.”

Master classes, where students are coached in front of an audience of their peers and others, requires yet another approach. The challenge is helping the student learn and benefit quickly.

“But the rest of the audience, no matter what instrument they play, or community members, (needs to) have a good time and also retain some of that knowledge,” Andai said. “So my interaction changes based on the setting, but it’s still the same — learning, teaching, engaging and inspiring.”

For Andai, who performs around the world, teaching is an essential part of his career.

“I can’t imagine a day without teaching,” he said. “The most challenging part of it is knowing when to step back and just let the student learn by trial and error as well. There’s an element of discovery that needs to happen.”

Killington Music Festival

– June 30: “Grand Piano Season Opener” — Simon Ghraichy

– July 7: “Thank You Dvorak” — Dumky Trio

– July 14: “Cellos Galore” — Schubert String Quintet

– July 21: “Dancing into the Quiet Night” — Vaughan Williams’ Piano Quintet.

– July 28: “Potpourri on Killington Peak”

“Music in the Mountains” concerts are at 7 p.m. at Ramshead Lodge at the Killington Resort; the finale is at Killington Peak. Tickets are $25, $30 for finale; call 1-800-621-6867. Young Artists Series concerts are at the Ramshead Lodge at 7 p.m. Fridays July 6-20, plus Wednesday and Thursday, July 25 and 26; admission is free. A special free-will offering concert will be presented at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 5, at Grace Congregational Church in Rutland, featuring Simon Ghraichy and faculty members. For information, go online to www.killingtonmusicfestival.org.