Two weeks flew by at the National Music Festival. This two-week program is located in quaint little Chestertown, where the locals live in beautiful old houses by the waterfront. Host families and Washington College generously housed the hundred students who all came with full tuition and housing scholarships from all over the United States and abroad.
Each day was been packed with activity. A typical day allotted us orchestral rehearsals from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and then a performance at 7:30 p.m. In our first week alone, we played in over four concerts! We have learned an incredible amount of repertoire, including the Brahms “Serenade No. 2,” Dvorak’s “Symphony 7,” and Mahler’s “Symphony No. 2.”
When we weren’t in these large ensembles, we either practiced, ate, napped, or jammed late into the early morning on an electric cello. Historic Chestertown has all these cute little cafés and restaurants, some of whom are nice enough to extend their hours especially for Festival students after concerts, such as EverGrain, the Fish Whistle, and the Lemon Leaf Café.
I think my favorite part of this festival was getting to know the other musicians, especially the cellists, who formed a pretty cohesive unit. We played all these ensembles together, performing Popper’s “Requiem” for three cellos, a piece that one of our own wrote as an epic duet, and the Bach “Chaconne” arranged for four cellos. I’m going to miss hanging out with these amazing people.