23 Jun St. Augustine Music Festival continues free classical concerts
Source: The St. Augustine Record
Renee Unsworth, Record Correspondent
St. Augustine will play host to one of the largest free classical music festivals in the United States during the last two weeks of June.
The 17th annual St. Augustine Music Festival runs June 23-25 and June 30-July 2 in the Cathedral Basilica, 38 Cathedral Place, downtown St. Augustine. Details can be found by visiting staugustinemusicfestival.com
Concerts are free to attend and doors open at 7 p.m., with each concert beginning at 7:30 p.m. Guests are asked to register for free tickets in advance on Eventbrite.
Founded by Jorge A. Pena and Jin Kim-Pena in 2007, the St. Augustine Music Festival (SAMF) has grown over the years, adding a free Juneteenth performance on June 19 by the Ritz Chamber Players featuring Ann Marie McPhail singing spirituals and music from composers of African descent.
“Each year is unique in so many ways but the one thing that always stands out and gives us the motivation and drive to continue is our audience,” said Jorge A. Pena, the Artistic Director of St. Augustine Music Festival, who also is a Violist with the Jacksonville Symphony, along with the Artistic Director & Conductor of the Coastal Symphony of Georgia.
“Speaking with people afterwards, seeing the support and enthusiasm we have from our audience, the crowds that we attract,” he added. “The impact we can have on individuals is something that is unique to what we do as musicians … we now have a space for us to share our love of music with others, and that creates a special connection between people that transcends any differences we may have.”
The following is the lineup for the 2023 program:
- Friday, June 23: Summer Night Music with Yukino Miyake, Piano with Ann Marie McPhail, Soprano
- Saturday, June 24: First of Three B’s “Bach”
- Sunday, June 25: Second of Three B’s “Brahms”
- Friday, June 30: Brass & Organ
- Saturday, July 1: Musical Metamorphosis
- Sunday, July 2: Third of Three B’s “Beethoven”
See complete program details at https://staugustinemusicfestival.org/events/
“This year we are officially dedicating our June 30 Brass and Organ concert to the Cathedral Basilica,” Pena said. “They have been our biggest supporter from the very first day, allowing us to put on concerts every year for the past 17 years in their beautiful Cathedral, for which we are so incredibly grateful and thankful to show our appreciation.”
Along with a brass quintet, the concert on June 30 will feature the Casavant organ, while celebrating the acoustical qualities, beauty, and historical architecture of the Cathedral Basilica. The guest organist, Tom Tiller, is the Canon for Music at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Jacksonville.
At the June 23 concert, a 1917 Steinway-Mastriani Grand Piano will be introduced to the general public during a concert with pianist Yokino Miyake. This piano was donated to SAMF in fall 2022 by the family of Paul Mastriani. The piano was restored in 2007, the same year SAMF was founded. Mastriani was a jazz musician and composer, though worked professionally as a stenographer. The piano’s new permanent home is The Waterworks building at 184 San Marco Ave., in uptown St. Augustine, which houses the offices of the St. Johns Cultural Council.
Other concerts will focus on the “Three B’s” this year: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms.
“The great German masters, who had a huge influence and shaped classical music into what it is today,” Pena said. “Nigel Armstrong, an audience favorite, is returning to play a Beethoven Violin concerto at last concert on July 2. One of the greatest concertos ever written, being played by one of the most incredibly artistic, beautiful and sensitive players today, will be a concert you definitely do not want to miss.”
For more information to reserve free tickets, visit staugustinemusicfestival.org or call 904-342-5175.