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Art Song Festival

Art Song Festival moves to BW

The Art Song Festival, which has been a staple of the Cleveland musical scene since 1985, will move to a new home at the Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory in the spring of 2006.

Established by George Vassos, former head of the Voice Department at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the weeklong festival, held in May every other year, brings two established recitalists and their accompanists to the area for a series of concerts and master classes. The Art Song Festival has gained a national and, growing international, reputation for the unusual professional opportunities that it affords young artists. 

“We are thrilled to be able to host this celebrated and beloved Festival,” said Catherine Jarjisian, director of the BW Conservatory. “We look forward to a relationship of enormous benefit to our students and to Festival participants and audiences.  This is an exciting opportunity for all of us.”

The enthusiasm for the new relationship is reciprocated by Prof. Vassos, who continues as artistic director.  “I’m thrilled that we’re moving to Baldwin Wallace,” he said.  “BW has a fine Conservatory with a great reputation. It has the Bach Festival and the interest in voice is there.  Berea is a part of Cleveland.  We’re going somewhere that already loves us. This partnership provides everything we need and it gives us a chance to grow.”

Vassos is no newcomer to Baldwin Wallace. He studied voice with Burton Garlinghouse, longtime BW professor, who retired in 1962 and he has sung with professor emeritus Melvin Hakola.  He also has been to campus to judge music competitions through the years.

“Everyone here has been so supportive and enthusiastic since we began our discussions.” Vassos said.  “I also think that Baldwin Wallace is an exceptional fit for the festival from an educational perspective.”

In addition to the featured singers and pianists, ten teams of young singers and accompanists are recruited, through audition, for a week of intensive study with the featured recitalists and accompanists.  The 10 duos then present a “Teams Recital” at the end of the week. The popular festival draws performers from the U.S. and abroad, bringing some from as far away as Australia.

The Art Song Festival draws large audiences, who have heard singers such as David Daniels, Stephanie Blythe, Hakan Hagegard, Stanford Olsen, Francois LeRoux and Barbara Bonney; and pianists such as Martin Katz, Warren Jones and Julius Drake. Ancillary events such as lectures and lecture-recitals feature academics and other music professionals in the vocal arts and related fields. Outreach educational programs surrounding the festival introduce young people to the art song and help perpetuate interest and enjoyment in this aspect of music.

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