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MCW Unites with Music in the Alps

 Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Music Conservatory of Westchester and Music in the Alps Unite for International Music Experience



This summer, the Music Conservatory of Westchester, known for its esteemed faculty with global performance credentials, and international music festival Music in the Alps, are uniting to make “Sound of Music” dreams come true – playing music in the heart of the Austrian Alps.

Established in 2013, by Ukranian-born concert pianist and Conservatory faculty member Dr. Irena Portenko, Music in the Alps has grown as a unique training experience bringing together internationally renowned musicians as well as students from around the world. This year, Music in the Alps will take place from July 31 through August 19, 2018.

Dr. Portenko says that the motto of the festival, "Share your passion, share your story,” resembles the Music Conservatory of Westchester's mission to provide the extraordinary benefits of music to all in our community. This summer, the Conservatory’s mission will extend far beyond Westchester County. Dr. Portenko will bring to her summer festival three additional faculty members of the nonprofit White Plains, New York community music school that was established in 1929: Conductor and clarinetist Dr. Douglas Bish, pianist Svetlana Gorokhovich, and jazz guitarist Dario Chiazzolino.The combination of world-class music and a majestic backdrop such as the Austrian Alps in Bad Gastein, Austria is unbeatable.


“Austria is the geographic heart of classical music,” Dean of the Music Conservatory of Westchester, Dr. Douglas Bish explains. “The Music in the Alps festival is located just an hour from Mozart’s home in Salzburg, Austria. Along with Vienna to the east, it helps to make up a country that is “music itself” to many musicians. Just being there, with the musical history that comprises the very fabric of that country, will be an inspiration and it must have an effect on the music.”

Music in the Alps is an opportunity for students of all ages to receive a well-rounded experience in music exploration. In instrumental and vocal masterclasses and chamber music groups, students study the works of composers such as Bach, Handel, Schumann, Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms. Frequent performances enhance students’ skills as they learn in such an inspirational environment. “One minute you are looking at this wonderful world around you; and in the very next minute you are illustrating it using your imagination, your skills, and your instrument,” Dr. Portenko says.

New aspects to the festival are introduced this year, inspired by its participants’ musical interests and the faculty’s expertise. Dr. Bish says, “All of the Conservatory’s faculty who will be participating in Music in the Alps already have received international recognition for their work in music, as concert performers, conductors, and recording artists. This opportunity does, however, remind people around the world of the strength of the Conservatory’s faculty and that we offer a world-class instructional program here in Westchester County.”

Led by Dr. Bish, a new Concerto-Aria Competition will bring advanced students together to compete for a chance to perform with the festival orchestra, make a special appearance in a music series in the legendary Marble Room of Mirabell Palace in Salzburg, and an invitation for the most impressive contestant to perform at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall during the 2018-2019 season. Blue Griffin Recording Inc. will live-broadcast the Concerto-Aria Competition and all performances from Music in the Alps to share the experience with music lovers around the world.

This summer, renowned jazz guitarist and Conservatory faculty member Dario Chiazzolino and former Conservatory jazz faculty member Bob Arthurs will expand the Music in the Alps offerings beyond classical music to the jazz and popular music genres. Conservatory piano faculty member since 1997 and internationally recognized piano recording artist with Blue Griffin Recording Inc., Svetlana Gorokhovich will return to Music in the Alps teaching Piano Solo and Piano Ensemble during the summer program.In addition to faculty members from the Music Conservatory of Westchester, other masterclass instructors and program directors at Music in the Alps also come with extraordinary credentials.

Grammy-nominated conductor and recipient of the American Prize for Conducting, Kenneth Kiesler will hold a highly anticipated intensive masterclass. Over 25 conductors from around the world have applied to participate. A selective program, only 6 applicants will be accepted to this particular masterclass. Classical vocalist, Tammy Hensrud, whose international performance appearances span from the Vienna State Opera to the Metropolitan Opera, is slated to lead the vocal program at Music in the Alps.

Dr. Portenko says of bringing a little bit of home influences from the Music Conservatory of Westchester to Austria, “I think the spirit of New York prevails in our festival and serves as a main drive and subject for astonishment. ‘Where do you get so much energy?’ We usually say: ‘From the city that never sleeps.’”

Several Conservatory students also traveling to Austria this summer to participate in Music in the Alps need not worry about language barriers. Dr. Bish explains, “Saying that ‘Music is the Universal Language’ isn’t just a phrase. It is reality.”

Visit musicinthealps.com for more info.



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