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Summer Music Festival highlights world-class musicians from across the globe

Artists from across the globe are making their way to Bloomington for the Jacobs School of Music's annual Summer Music Festival at Indiana University.

The festival opens June 19 and ends August 10. This year's event honors the 200th anniversary of the births of Robert Schumann and Frederic Chopin with a chamber music series, a symphonic series, piano recitals, summer band performances, organ recitals, percussion performances and the eighth U.S. International Harp Competition.

Time for Three
Time for Three

This year, the festival is expanding its offerings to include more genres than in years past.

Renowned soprano Angela Brown, a Jacobs School of Music alumna, and the acoustic-jam-folk band Time for Three are just two of the acts that can't be easily categorized, said festival coordinator Thomas Wieligman. "It doesn't fit a label, but all I know is that the audience is going to leave (Time for Three) humming and snapping their fingers," he said, adding that with all of the music series available this summer, audiences will be able to expand their musical tastes.

"If someone tells me 'I only listen to jazz' or 'I only listen to something else,' I think, 'Oh what a pity,'" Wieligman said. "Try something. Even if you find out it's not your favorite flavor, it's OK. At least you tried and you broadened your horizon."

Part of the festival family

With the Jacobs School of Music's world-class faculty members, Bloomington has become an unlikely music capital. Wieligman said that the faculty members chose most of the artists playing at the festival. "We don't simply invite people," he said. "We invite people we want to be a part of the family."

The strong relationships that have been formed between faculty members and other musicians are behind the music festival's success. The music school faculty members are IU's gateway to the arts world.

"They come here in the middle of the cornfields because of friendships," Wieligman said. "When we have someone on our faculty like Mr. (Menahem) Pressler -- who for 65-plus years has been giving concerts of the highest level all around the world -- he has made a gob of friendships. And when he calls you and says, 'I want you to come to Bloomington and play with me,' people can't turn him down."

Having so many artists willing to travel from afar to perform at the festival is an honor and a tribute to the Jacobs School's faculty members, Wieligman said. "When you are bringing guests literally from all around the world to Bloomington, Indiana, for a couple of weeks in the summer, it makes it special," Wieligman said.

But the elite performers aren't just the ones coming from overseas -- some of the finest artists can be found in the hallways and classrooms of the Jacobs School. IU music professors Mark Kaplan and Yael Weiss will play in the Weiss-Kaplan-Newman Trio on 8 p.m., Thursday, June 24, in Auer Hall.

Other performers are no strangers to the Jacobs School -- they too had to fight for the coveted practice rooms. "We have people like Angela (Brown), who because they are from here, want to give something back," Wieligman said.

'Opera from a Sistah'

Once a voice major at the Jacobs School, Brown is now an internationally renowned opera singer. She will perform her show Opera from a Sistah's Point of View, which will be recorded live, at 8 p.m., Friday, July 30, at the Musical Arts Center.

Brown, Angela - 2010
Angela Brown

Brown said that her strong fan base in Bloomington and the structure of the MAC is what made her want to do a live recording during the performance. "What is better than the MAC in Bloomington for people to scream and yell?" Brown said. "It is the best place to do a live recording. . . . The MAC is fabulous."

Even though Brown has long-since ventured from her Jacobs School education, she can't go too far without seeing a familiar face or making an IU connection. Brown has worked with conductor and former IU music professor Robert Porco, has performed with IU School of Music Dean Emeritus Charles Webb and still occasionally receives lessons from Distinguished Professor Emerita Virginia Zeani, her former but "still instrumental" voice coach.

"Since leaving IU, I have seen a lot of people that I went to school with in the business," Brown said. "It is nice to be able to have these relationships grow outside of Jacobs."

When Brown comes to perform for her first Summer Music Festival show, she said that she wants to see how much different the IU campus and the music school is compared to when she left campus in 1997. "I haven't been to IU in a while so maybe I'll take a little tour and just reminisce over how things have changed," Brown said.

To learn more about the Summer Music Festival, see

--By University Communications arts intern Alyssa Goldman

This story was originally published June 4, 2010.