Downtown Asheville - CITY NEWS, INFO & EVENTS

A Classic Invasion - June 2006

A Classy Classic Invasion of Classical Music and More - June 2006

By Byron Belzak

First Appeared in Rapid River Magazine, June 2006


What once was rare, even alien, to many in Western North Carolina is now invading the region as a major performance category: classic and classical music performed by area chamber ensembles and community choruses. This season, particularly in June and July, they offer some of the area’s finest musical highlights.


This very classy invasion continues to grow in sophistication, appeal and size. Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival looks forward to the 2006 season being its most highly attended series yet. And they’ve been at it for decades.


In 2006 Brevard Music Center is celebrating 70 years of fine music offerings and education at its annual Summer Institute and Festival under the great talent of artistic director David Effron, who took over the reins in 1997.


And Keowee Chamber Music Festival is fast becoming a musical force under the able direction of flutist and festival founder Kate Steinbeck.


These three fine festivals will definitely delight growing audiences with their own unique programs and individualistic takes on traditional and contemporary renditions. And many of the performances will be accented with the musical spice of renowned guest artists. For example, visiting Tim Holley with his magical cello will perform at select shows as part of the Keowee festival.


This new wave—classic invasion, if you please—of classy entertainment will be delivered to audiences in Asheville and in surrounding mountain venues this June and July as if manna from heaven. It’s nothing to fear. It’s something to embrace. And don’t just say you enjoy variety in your life. Prove it.


And you’ll be able to do so with minimal financial pain. Even in these times where cash is sometimes in short supply, all three of these classical music festivals have kept their ticket prices in check. Bravo! to them.


Not only is each of these professional performances affordable (and a great value), some are offered free at the Brevard Music Festival and the Keowee Chamber Music Festival. You’ll happily discover a little something left in your wallet, which of course can be judiciously spent, and justifiably so, on an easily found fine dinner at an area restaurant complete with some wine or bubbly to toast and round out a most memorable musical and culinary evening (or afternoon) of all things classical and good.


After all, some would argue that it’s our patriotic duty to get out there and enjoy life. And who can argue with the fact that in the mountains life is good.


The Asheville Symphony Chamber Chorus, which was founded by pianist Dewitt Tipton (and, who also performs in Keowee), will conduct “The Music of America” on Sunday, June 4 at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church on Liberty Street in Asheville. It’s a concert not to be missed if you’re looking for an out-of-this-world musical experience. 

Classical music devotees and groupies will be able to attend Swannanoa Chamber Music’s concerts throughout the Asheville area, including performances in Hendersonville, Waynesville, and at Warren Wilson College, located in northeast Buncombe County. 

70 Years of Sensational Music

The grandpa of them all, of course, is Brevard Music Center’s Summer Institute and Festival. 2006 is a headline year for them. It represents 70 years of classic musical programming in the Western North Carolina’s mountains. The Brevard Music Center (BMC) has keep true to its admirable mission: teaching gifted young musicians to prepare and perform great musical works at high artistic levels.


Local music history buffs can visit Ibiblio at to learn more about the BMC musical experience. They will discover that in 1936 James Christian Pfohl opened a summer band camp for boys on the campus of Davidson College in North Carolina. Fifty young instrumentalists appeared for that first session. The camp lasted seven summers at Davidson and spent one summer at Queens College in Charlotte.


In 1945 Pfohl moved his camp to a beautiful site just outside the town of Brevard in western North Carolina, and the now coeducational Transylvania Music Camp was born. A few years later, Pfohl established a festival at the camp, and this soon became an integral part of the summer activities. The name was changed to “Brevard Music Center” in 1955.


In 1965 Henry Janiec succeeded James Christian Pfohl as artistic director at Brevard. Mr. Janiec led the Center for more than 30 years, through the 1996 season. After an extensive search, David Effron became artistic director in 1997. Want to go beyond the computer? Physical archives of the Brevard Music Center are maintained on the Brevard Music College campus. Furthermore, cataloguing and preservation efforts are ongoing, and will continue to cover the progress of those efforts. Currently, the primary site of Brevard Music history can be found at


Six Years of Handcrafted Chamber Music

Kate Steinbeck and her Keowee Chamber Music Festival is now in its 6th season. The festival runs from June 13 through June 25. It will offer concerts in North and South Carolina. In North Carolina, one can hear exceptional chamber music at Asheville and Cedar Mountain concerts. In Greenville, South Carolina, the Sunday, June 25, 3 p.m. concert will be Keowee’s 40th production.


Keowee presents a variety of events and offers these performances in splendid historic spaces and even on a mountaintop. How fitting for this region that distinguishes itself daily with individualism and creativity. While the main performances are available at most reasonable prices, some are free children’s mini-concerts and open rehearsals of the main events.


The Keowee Chamber players provide appreciative audiences with an eclectic assortment of beautiful and sometimes even funky acoustic music. It’s an acoustic adventure, for sure. In fact, one of the top Keowee concerts is something completely new on several counts: Acoustic Dessert will be offered one time on Tuesday, June 20, 2006, as a late-night musical experience (beginning at 9:30 p.m.) in one of downtown Asheville’s newest and finest art galleries: Red Square Gallery, located at 7 Rankin Avenue, next door to the entrance of Tops For Shoes that faces the City’s Rankin Ave. Parking Garage.


Furthermore, this Keowee season offers professional programs that include familiar names, such as Mozart, Paganini and Rachmaninoff, as well as multi-cultural and modern voices of America that at times embrace African-American and Mexican-American sounds. A Keowee specialty is offering sweet music that refreshes, for its offerings are distinctively fresh and intimate.


Some say Keowee performances sometimes reach musical heights that are absolutely sublime, alien, seductive, and serene—all at the same time. Discover what the sound is all about when this classic—and sometimes-untraditional landing of acoustic sounds—finds it’s where no other chamber music festival, until now, has dared to travel.


A full menu of what Keowee and its top musicians have to offer for your listening pleasure follows:

Kate Steinbeck - flute  

Corine Brouwer - violin               

Amy Brucksch - guitar            

Elizabeth Austin - cello

Dewitt Tipton - piano   

with special guest artist Tim Holley - cello


PROGRAM I: flute, violin, guitar and cello

A bit of magic Mozart for his 250th birthday, sumptuous Garden Music by Gary Schocker, a fiery Terzetto for violin, cello and guitar by Paganini, tantalizing Delicate Songs of Aaron Jay Kernis, and five poignant Canciones by Alice Gomez


Friday, June 16, 7:30 PM

First Presbyterian Church

40 Church Street

Asheville, NC


Sunday, June 18, 3 PM Father’s Day
Pretty Place Chapel in a spectacular mountain setting!
YMCA Camp Greenville

Cedar Mountain, NC

Free admission


Tuesday, June 20, 9:30 PM Acoustic Dessert!

Late evening concert with flute, guitar & cello

Music by jazz cellist Mark Summers, Sergei Rachmaninoff and others

Red Square Gallery

7 Rankin Avenue, Downtown Asheville


June 15-17: Admission free performances for children

PROGRAM II: flute, cello and piano

Ludwig van Beethoven’s own spin on Mozart’s Magic, a singing Suite for 2 celli and piano from opera composer and Spoleto founder Carlo Menotti, Undine Smith Moore’s aching beautiful Afro-American Suite written in homage to Martin Luther King, Jr. and MORE!


Thursday, June 22, 7:30 PM

First Presbyterian Church

200 West Washington Street

Greenville, SC


Sunday, June 25, 3 PM: Concert our 40th production!

First Presbyterian Church, 40 Church Street, Asheville, NC


Tickets for all events available at the door: $12 general admission, $7 students


Free admission to Pretty Place, children’s concerts and open rehearsals


For more details, including information about KEOWEE for KIDS, and open rehearsals, please contact call 828-254-7123 in NC or 864-624-9693 in SC, or visit


For more information about this and future Keowee’s acoustic adventures and acoustic dessert, email:


You won’t be disappointed that you were willing to join these musical magicians as they weave their other worldly sounds for your personal enjoyment.


What more can be said about this classic, classical, classy invasion? There’s nothing like live sounds to stir the soul this spring and summer in the mountains. Enjoy. Bon appetit.