a young male student wearing black dress clothes, embracing his euphonium

Grantee Highlight: Eastern Music Festival

EMF Serving World-Class Music for All

By Rabia Kang, Marketing and Development Intern

EMF at the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts.

Eastern Music Festival (EMF) is a world-class summer educational institution and performance festival located in Greensboro, established in 1961 by Sheldon Morgenstern with the goal of being a summer music camp oriented toward students. A musician himself, Morgenstern was passionate about music education but had not experienced a student-oriented education in other summer programs. A powerful teaching institution, EMF has grown to include over 200 young artists and 75+ professional faculty musicians from across the country and abroad since its founding. What started as an orchestral program has grown to include a piano program, a pre-professional conducting institute, orchestral fellowships for strings, trombone, and percussion, a classical guitar program, and a euphonium tuba institute. EMF showcases two Young Artist Orchestras of professional standards performing weekly with accomplished faculty soloists and world-renowned visiting artists under the artistic direction of Gerard Schwarz. 

EMF’s 61st season ran from June 25th to July 30th, 2022; it included 60+ performances by ensembles of varying shapes and sizes in Guilford College’s Dana Auditorium and at venues across the Triad and Boone, NC. This year featured performances by well-known guest artists Lara St. John (violin), Santiago Rodriguez (piano), and Marika Bournaki (piano), as well as faculty performances by Jason Vieaux (guitar) and Chris Gekker (trumpet).

With the mission of promoting musical excellence and collaboration, EMF offers nationally recognized educational programming and community outreach in addition to its performances. Faculty members are engaged in students’ curriculum through teaching lessons and leading master classes, and many guest artists are also involved in student performances and master classes. Starting in 2022, EMF introduced its new String Leadership Program designed to support aspiring music professionals in career development. Musicians are immersed in professional education with EMF faculty and prominent leaders in the Greensboro community in preparation for careers as section leaders or concertmasters. Special student programming includes leadership seminars with topics on  financial literacy,  sustaining an arts career, practicing healthy mental health practices in the industry, etc.

EMF’s Media & Communications Director Erika Frazier emphasizes accessibility and diversity in both participating in EMF and attending performances, addressing misconceptions about music institutions and audiences. “A lot of people don’t recognize how diverse our orchestras are,” says Frazier. “EMF’s vision for the future is to spread the word and make our impact reach more audiences. Let EMF be a place where anyone can come and experience world-class music.” This past season, EMF’s 249 participants hail from 41 states and nine countries, some traveling as far as Iran and Uzbekistan.  Over half of the participants received scholarships, totaling almost $400,000. The 64 faculty artists come from 24 states, territories, and countries, representing 47 artistic and educational institutions.

EMF Encircling the City outreach program.

“Despite the pandemic’s effects on the industry and the many amazing patrons we have lost due to it, we hope to see more diverse audiences at our performances in future years, and aspire to keep making EMF something that Greensboro is proud to host,” concludes Frazier. 

For more information on one of America’s finest orchestral programs located right in Greensboro, visit easternmusicfestival.org.

All images included are courtesy of EMF. 

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