Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Festival Network brings Boston Pops to Martha's Vineyard

When Festival Network was born in January out of a merger of George Wein's Festival Productions Inc. and an investment group, the management announced a strategy of adding new "destination festivals" to its portfolio of events. Yesterday, the company began to deliver on the plan by announcing an all-new event, the Martha's Vineyard Festival, set for August 12 in Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard MA, and featuring the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra.

Vocalist Natalie Cole and saxophonist Branford Marsalis will perform with the orchestra, conducted by Pops principal conductor Keith Lockhart. The event will take place outdoors in Oak Bluff's Ocean Park. Tickets are $45 for adults and are available beginning July 5 at the Festival Productions website and at several local outlets. A portion of ticket revenues will benefit The Martha's Vineyard Hospital.

According to Festival Network CEO Chris Shields, the new event fits the company's approach of presenting world-class performers in prominent resort locations. That's the model that has worked well for years with the company's Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals. In an earlier interview with Festival Preview, Shields said that merging festival experiences with luxury travel services was a potent formula for successful events.

The new festival launches with a fairly modest program, one evening of music with an orchestra that already performs widely in the market. Both Cole and Marsalis are among a corps of special guests that have made previous appearances with the Pops. The company did not give any indications of its future plans, but it is reasonable to suppose that it intends to grow the Martha's Vineyard Festival to a multi-day event in future years.

The event overlaps with the last day of the JVC Newport Jazz Festival, which takes place fairly close by in Newport RI.

The Boston Pops Esplanade ensemble is managed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, but unlike the main Pops orchestra, employs non-BSO musicians. It performs in Boston's Symphony Hall mid-June through mid-July, plays free outdoor concerts at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade in Boston, and tours throughout the U.S.

The new event marks a return to a favorite location for both Shields and Wein. In 1998, Shields produced Nectarfest on Martha's Vineyard and its sister island Nantucket. Wein met and married his wife on the island.

"To produce this festival in New England at the same time as our flagship event, the Newport Jazz Festival, is both professionally very exciting and personally quite emotional," Wein said in a prepared statement.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Festival Preview Classical Blog

Welcome to the FP Classical Blog! In this special appendage of our site you will find rare interviews, reviews, and general op-ed pieces concerning music festivals and other live events. Remember that the people who contribute to this little ongoing "publication" of ours will be some of the most knowledgable music fans around.

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