Thursday, June 2, 2011

BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW: THIS EVENT IS SPECTACULAR

2 people, 2 weeks, 1 classical feast

A couple who have been entrenched in the classical music scene have moved to a farm in Floyd County with the goal of starting a two-week festival of the music they hold dear.

Richard Rosenberg and Caitlin Patton are organizing the National Music Festival, a two-week-long celebration of classical music in Floyd that begins at the end of May. Patton sits on her Arabian, Casidy, 18, while their boarder Maggie, 4, a quarter horse, stands in the background.
Richard Rosenberg and Caitlin Patton have a Polish rooster and Australorp and Wyandotte chickens.


  • When: May 29 to June 11
  • Where: Various locations in Floyd
  • How much: Festival passes $150; some individual performances free, others $5 to $15
  • Info: 745-6683; NationalMusic.us
  • Note: Richard Rosenberg, the festival’s artistic director, will give a pre-festival talk 5:30 p.m. May 23 at Floyd Country Store

Some highlights

  • May 29, 6:45 p.m. Hotel Floyd Amphitheater: Opening Fanfare, Festival Brass Ensemble. Free. 7:30 p.m. Jacksonville Center for the Arts: Festival Chamber Players perform works by Poulenc, Berlioz, Mendelssohn. $10.
  • June 3, 7:30 p.m., Floyd Elementary School Field House: Festival Wind Sympony performs works including John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” $10.
  • June 6, 7:30 p.m. Floyd High School Auditorium: “Piano-Mania!” with instructor Uriel Tsachor and students. $15.
  • June 10, 8 p.m., Floyd High School Auditorium: Festival Symphony Orchestra performs works by Mozart, Mendelssohn and others. $15.
  • June 11, 7:30 p.m., Floyd Elementary School Field House: Festival Symphony Orchestra performs the National Music Festival finale, including Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and the world premiere of Edward Dede’s “Le Sultan d’Ispahan” overture. $15.
 Klein-Davis | The Roanoke Times
Richard Rosenberg and Caitlin Patton are organizing the National Music Festival, a two-week-long celebration of classical music in Floyd that begins at the end of May. Patton sits on her Arabian, Casidy, 18, while their boarder Maggie, 4, a quarter horse, stands in the background.
Richard Rosenberg and Caitlin Patton, who are organizing the National Music Festival, live in a small house with three dogs and two cats.
Richard Rosenberg and Caitlin Patton, who are organizing the National Music Festival, live in a small house with three dogs and two cats.
Richard Rosenberg and Caitlin Patton have a Polish rooster and Australorp and Wyandotte chickens.

FLOYD -- These days, a mention of Floyd County carries a host of associations
 -- arts and crafts, old time and bluegrass.
But no one would call it a mecca for classical music.
If Caitlin Patton and Richard Rosenberg can realize their ambitions,
that will change.
The couple moved to Floyd County last year with a plan to start the two-week
National Music Festival, and have gone about putting it together with astonishing
speed. The festival's name reflects the scope of the music performed there and
 the fact that the performers will come from all over the country.
So at the end of May, when the 425-population town is overrun by at least 90
music students who've come to study under and play alongside 23 mentors --
with performances taking place everywhere from the Chateau Morrisette restaurant
to the Floyd Elementary School field house -- residents will have Patton and
Rosenberg to blame, or thank.
John McEnhill, director of the Jacksonville Center for the Arts in Floyd, serves
on the National Music Festival board. He said one of his favorite aspects of the
project is its informality. People can come wearing ties or tie-dye T-shirts, he said.
"Integrating it into everyday venues is a wonderful thing."
Part of the purpose of the festival is to show how exciting, adventurous and
accessible classical music can be, Rosenberg said. "There's been too many
obstacles thrown in the way of enjoying culture."
The program includes more than 20 concerts, several of which are free, while
others are priced at $10 or $15. Performances also take place at the Jacksonville
Center, Floyd County High School, Floyd Country Store, Bell Gallery & Garden
and Presbyterian Church of Floyd.
The festival also promises 250 open rehearsals for anyone to sit in on. At least
one such rehearsal will take place in the barn on the 30-acre farm where the
couple rents what they call a "tiny plastic house."
Planning large
Rosenberg, 56, a veteran orchestra conductor, is the artistic director. Patton,
25, a violist, is the executive director. The pair travel frequently. Recently
Rosenberg guest conducted in Brazil, and Patton played with the orchestra.
Engaged to be married, the two have in common not just musical talent but
a passion for rescue animals, and animals in general -- they share their home
with two large black cats and three Bassett hounds, while one of Patton's horses,
Casidy, roams the surrounding farmland, along with a flock of chickens that provide
way more eggs than they need. Patton offers riding lessons under the business
name Orfeo Acres.
They treat their guests to cappuccinos made fresh with hand-squeezed milk in a
living room dominated by a grand piano. There's also a bust of Beethoven that
Rosenberg has whimsically decorated with fake fur. He says he calls the piece
"Fur Elise," a pun on one of the German composer's most famous compositions.
Their house is packed with orderly shelves filled with music and texts about music.
Originally from New York, Rosenberg lived in Floyd about 30 years ago and even
played in a bluegrass band. He and Patton decided to start the festival here after a
visit.
Their venture is modeled on the Hot Springs Music Festival in Arkansas, which
Rosenberg founded in 1995 with his ex-wife Laura Rosenberg. That festival and
this new one in Floyd focus on education and career training for musicians,
pairing experienced musicians with promising students.
"What we do is try to teach them how to make that transition, under tutelage of
mentors who have done it successfully," Rosenberg said. "How to read a contract,
how to avoid stress injuries," and things to keep in mind when deciding what kind
of career to pursue.
Sales haven't caught fire yet. Patton said May 11 in an email that they've sold 15
of their $150 festival passes. They don't expect tickets to the individual performances
 to start selling until closer to the performance times.
"There are many of us who are wondering if this is too ambitious for the first year,
" McEnhill said. On the other hand, "all great things have to start someplace."
Patton said she and Rosenberg decided not to start small because there needed to
 be enough events to justify a two-week stay for those flying in, enough people involved
 to constitute a full orchestra for performances, and because they wanted people to
 experience the event as they envisioned it.
In fact, they hope to expand the scope of the festival in years to come, adding
training and performances for chorus, saxophone, guitar and other disciplines.
McEnhill noted that FloydFest, which had some setbacks when it first started,
adapted and persevered to become a showcase event.
"I think that's probably going to be true of the music festival," he said. "I think
what Richard and Caitlin are bringing to the community is a new aspect to music."
There will be some history-making performances during the festival's course.
Another of Rosenberg's passions involves finding and restoring long-lost compositions.
He recently transcribed the score to an opera he discovered in the Harvard library written
by Edmond Dede, the first American black composer to publish music in the United States.
Born in New Orleans in 1829, Dede went on to have a career as a conductor in Paris.
The opera "Le Sultan d'Isaphan" was never performed while Dede was alive.
The overture to Dede's opera will have its world premiere June 11 during the festival's
final concert.
Recordings of concerts Rosenberg conducted in the Hot Springs festival have won
 Grammy award nominations. He said he intends to make recordings of the Floyd
performances as well.
In the meantime, they're still looking for donations, and for volunteers.
Much of the donations they've received have been in-kind, with people volunteering
to house mentors and students in their homes. They're seeking other volunteer help,
such as drivers to bring the musicians to Floyd from the Roanoke Regional Airport.
Should the event take off, and become a county fixture in the way the couple hopes,
the house they live in now might become the festival office after they build their
own home.
"We've been toying with the idea of putting up a yurt," Patton said.

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