Nelson County, Virginia
By Jennie Tal
The first year of the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival consisted mostly of classical concerts in people’s private homes. Then, it wasn’t really associated with Wintergreen.
“It was very simple,” said Larry Alan Smith, the current artistic and executive director of Wintergreen Performing Arts. “It was people who loved music and wanted to do some musical events.”
Now, the annual festival is a regional affair featuring more than 200 performances and events – it’s almost tripled in size since 2006 when Larry was hired. Working on his third festival now, the month-long celebration is growing and changing, but all for the better.
Each year, the Summer Music Festival features a theme – this year’s is Appalachian Roots: A Cultural Kaleidoscope and events run from July 6 to Aug. 2. Each week of the month-long festival features a part of the Appalachian Trail.
“The music has, and will continue to be, the main element,” said Larry, who lives in Connecticut and commutes to Virginia once a month, but will be in Nelson for the entirety of the festival. “But we’ve introduced other performing arts and even some non-performing arts into the festival.”
This year, festival-goers will find everything from theater, dance and film events to visual art exhibitions, cooking classes and wine tastings. There will even be a 5K Run/Walk event festival planners are calling “Appalachian Routes.” Get it?
“People have different tastes,” he said. “This is a festival that everyone can enjoy.”
Many of the 220 events taking place this month are free and family-friendly, so, while Larry and Wintergreen are trying to promote the festival to music-lovers from around the region, locals are encouraged to swing by, too.
In fact, some of the most prestigious artists performing during the festival, including world-renowned cellist Tanya Anisimova, is from right here in Nelson Couny.
Tanya lives in Nellysford with her husband Alexander Anufriev, a painter also participating in the festival. July 11 at 6 p.m., Tanya will be performing the world premier of “Appalachi.” She first started composing the trio as a solo piece back in 2007, before she had any idea of the theme of this year’s Wintergreen Summer Arts Festival, but she knew immediately it was meant to be performed this summer.
“I don’t believe in coincidences,” said Tanya, who was born in Russia but has lived in the United States for many years. “I think that we are presented with things.”
In addition to “Appalachi,” which Tanya said is a very boisterous, lively and sometimes scary piece, she will perform three improvisational pieces featuring her cello and her voice, plus a few other traditional solos for stringed instruments.
While there are several artists right here in town, Larry is excited to have some big name performers coming to the festival as well.
“Because of the theme, I’m very proud of having Mike Seeger with us,” said Larry.
Seeger, who’s family documented and preserved much of the old-time music that was popular in the Appalachian mountains before the widespread use of radios and televisions, performs traditional Southern mountain music. He will host a pops concert July 15 at 7:30 p.m.
So no matter what you’re into, Larry says you’ll run into it up at the top of the mountain this month.
“I guess I would say that people should know they’re going to find something they like,” he said. “They should explore what we’re doing.”
Find several featured events listed below. For a full list of events, visit Wintergreen Performing Arts at: www.wintergreenperformingarts.org and click on the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival at the top, left-hand corner.
Purchase tickets (individual tickets, season passes and flex packs are available) online at: www.wintergreenperformingarts.org or over the phone at (434) 325-8292.
Morning Seminars (Weekday Mornings)
The informal and informative seminars offer the chance for festival-goers to learn from different performers each week.
Where: Various Wintergreen locations
When: Weekday mornings
Cost: $50 per week or $15 per day
Opening Night Reception and Events Fair Kick-Off and Performance
A reception followed by a performance of the “Appalachia Waltz,” “Songs from the Southern Mountains,” “Old American Songs, Sets I and II” and “Octet in E-Flat Major” to celebrate the official start of the 2009 Wintergreen Summer Music Festival.
Where: Reception at the Skyline Pavilion; performance in the Evans Center
When: Reception at 6 p.m.; performance at 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $50 includes both reception and concert; reservations required by July 6
Appalachian ArtFest Meet the Artist Receptions
A chance to meet and greet the artists featured in the first-ever visual arts component of the 2009 Wintergreen Summer Music Festival.
Where: The Black Rock Gallery in the Mountain Inn
When: Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m.
Whiskey and Scotch Tasting
Held as part of “Moonshine” Weekend, taste Whiskeys and Scotches from the Southern Appalachians. Ages 21 and older.
Where: Festival Performance Center
When: 3:30 to 5 p.m. July 11
Cost: $10 includes five tastes plus peanuts.
Wintergreen Appalachian Film Festival
Forty-eight showings of 14 different films. All films are suitable for all ages except “Songcatcher,” which is rated PG-13.
Where: The Nelson Room, Trillium House, The Wintergreen Nature Foundation
When: See Web site for detailed schedule.
Music in Unusual Places: Academy Chamber Orchestra
Wander by and hear the sounds of music performed by the Wintergreen Performing Arts Academy students who come from all over the country. The Academy runs concurrently with the festival.
Where: Various Wintergreen Locations; see Web site for detailed schedule
When: Various times, morning, afternoon and evening; see Web site for detailed schedule
A pops concert featuring the group that performs Bach, bluegrass and (almost) everything in between.
When: 7:30 p.m. July 29
Where: Evans Center
Cost: $25, adults; $10, ages 10 to 17; under age 10 free
Music in the County Concerts
Performances out and about by the Wintergreen Performing Arts Academy students.
When: 12:30 p.m. July 21 and 23
Where: Nelson County Courthouse Steps (July 21) and the Nelson Memorial Library (July 23)
Two nights of performances by the performing ensemble of the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York.
When: 6 p.m. Aug. 1 and 3 p.m. Aug. 2
Where: Evans Center
Cost: $35, adults; $10, ages 10 to 17; under 10 free
A $350 Festival Season Pass may be used for all 2009 Wintergreen Summer Music Festival performances and events including Morning Seminars and Saturday Seminars, but it does not include the opening night reception (performance is included), the four tastings, the lap dulcimer workshops, the cooking classes or the 5K Walk/Run. The pass is worth more than $500 but is non-transferable.
2009 Wintergreen Summer Music Festival FlexPacks offer discounted prices to six varied events throughout the festival season. All six tickets can be used at one event, or use can be spread to as many as six different events. Opening night reception and cooking classes are not eligible for FlexPack use.
Individual event tickets vary in price. Consult the schedule for detailed pricing information. All events are first-come, first-serve including free performances.