Flood of events coming for Music in the Mountain’s Summer Fest in Nevada County | TheUnion.com

Flood of events coming for Music in the Mountain’s Summer Fest in Nevada County

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to The Prospector


WHAT: Music in the Mountains 38th Summer Fest

WHEN: July 15-July 3

WHERE: Variety of venues

HOW: musicinthemountains.org or call 530-265-6124

In the seven months since Jenny Darlington-Person took the reins as executive director of Music in the Mountains, there has been change.

The list includes a recent move to the old Post Office building in downtown Grass Valley and possibly the most significant, a new artistic director. Darlington-Person is excited about both.

“This location is a good fit for us.” she said. “We are now part of the (Grass Valley) Downtown Association, the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce. We are close to The Center for The Arts and all the businesses down here and we are nice and close to most of the venues we use here. It’s just a good fit.”

While still amid packed boxes and white boards, (leaning against a wall, color coated with SummerFest activities,) Darlington-Person admits she is still on a huge learning curve. She considers herself fortunate to announce longtime Music In The Mountains conductor, Ryan Murray, will step into the role of Artistic Director following the retirement of Pete Nowlen at the end of this month. It should be a seamless transition.

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“For the last 11 years, Ryan has been the choir director and he will continue to do that, and then for the last few year he was also the resident conductor and so he will continue directing the choir and conducting duties and will add on to it the role of artistic director,” said Darlington-Person.

“I am excited to see what Ryan’s vision is going to be and how I can make that happen and how we can work together.”

The artistic director decides on the artistic vision of the organization within the direction of the board of directors, including programming, bringing in guest artists, working with patrons, donors, and volunteers, and attending community events.

The former attorney added, “It’s a big job. Basically, the two of us are partners in crime.”

Darlington-Person has incorporated educational components into much of the SummerFest schedule, which kicks off June 15 with the Young Composers Project Concert. Students have been working on compositions since February that will be played by professional world-class musicians. The exceptional pieces promise to give hope for the future of classical music.

In addition to the Young Composers, Music in the Mountains is introducing a new program designed to support college students who are pursuing a career in classical music.

“Education is key, which is why we have launched a pilot program we are calling the SummerFest Music Academy,” Darlington-Person said. “We are bringing up students from the collegiate level who will be mentored by Ryan Murray along with principal members of the MIM Orchestra. The idea is to support emerging musicians to give them professional mentoring and professional playing experience. They are going to be playing with our orchestra on two of our concerts.”

A subtle change Darlington-Person is incorporating is the overall feel of SummerFest.

“This year I wanted to get it back to a Summer Festival feeling with more events and more education. So, in addition to the four major concerts, we have two chamber concerts, a youth concert and a nice handful of educational programs going on.”

The program includes three indoor concerts, three outdoor concerts and four special events.

Following a free Open Master Class offered to anyone who is interested in trying out for the chorus in the fall or who just want to see what it is like to be part of the chorus on June 22, Music in the Mountains will host another half dozen events over nine days including “Brass, Brats & Brews” outside on the Pine Tree Stage at the fairgrounds.

The brass concert has been a staple of Music In the Mountains for years, Darlington-Person said.

“I thought if it was going to be outside, we should make it more of a party atmosphere. The Ham Stand will serve bratwurst and Grass Valley Brewing Company has become our beer sponsor and will be pouring their beer. There will also be a wine bar. The brass concert promises to include a little bit of something for everyone musically with early Americana music through Duke Ellington jazz.

SummerFest ends with a community focused patriotic concert at the Nevada County Fairgrounds on July 3. The executive director has lowered ticket prices to encourage the community to attend. She says, “This is a very expensive production, but it was originally (the late co-founder) Paul Perry’s vision of a community concert. It was meant to serve the community, but it got to the point where ticket prices made it hard for a lot of people to come.

“As with all the events, children under 18 are free and general admission to Patriotic Pops has been reduced to $25.

Music In The Mountains was founded in the 1980’s with the mission to create a classical music festival that would support emerging orchestral musicians from the Bay Area, Sacramento region and locally that would create a community.

“Without art, your communities fall apart.” Darlington-Person said. “What we are about is bringing people together through music and creating community through great music and continuing the tradition and the community that was built in the 80s.”

That, she said, has not changed.

“Inspiring people to support music and musicians because it takes years, and years and years for these people to become professional musicians. Ticket prices do not cover the costs. You need people and volunteers giving their time and talent and giving their money and thankfully we have had that for a lot of years.”

Be it the Garden Party on June 23, the performance of Carmina Burana on June 27 or the Patriotic Pops on July 3, events at SummerFest are not to be missed.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com.

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