About Eastern Music Festival
For six decades, Eastern Music Festival (EMF), a nationally recognized classical music festival and summer educational program, is produced each summer on the campus of Guilford College, UNCG, and other venues in the Greensboro, North Carolina, area. EMF is distinguished by its accomplished faculty, exhilarating repertoire, and world-renowned visiting artists under the artistic direction of Gerard Schwarz. A powerful teaching institution, EMF provides encouragement and guidance to over 265 young musicians from across the country and around the globe as they take their first steps towards careers in the performing arts. During EMF’s five-week 60th anniversary season (June 26 – July 31, 2021), the Festival will present more than 65 ticketed concerts and 30+ outreach performances throughout the region.
When Sheldon Morgenstern established The Guilford Musical Arts Center, now Eastern Music Festival, in 1961 on the campus of Guilford College, he had one goal: to start a summer music camp where the study would be oriented towards the student, something he had not experienced at other such summer camps. With the assistance of Dr. Clyde Milner, then-president of Guilford College, and a group of equally passionate friends and family, Morgenstern was able to raise enough money and support to hold the first camp during the summer of 1962. Seventy-two students and fourteen professional faculty members participated in the first year. Since that time the number of students has grown to include over 200 young artists and 75+ professional faculty musicians from across the country and abroad.
Founder Sheldon Morgenstern (1930 – 2007) moved to Greensboro as a young child. He attended Greensboro Senior High School (now Grimsley) where he played French horn in the orchestra, then continued his studies in French horn and conducting at Northwestern University. His passion for teaching music led him back to Greensboro and to the campus of Guilford College. From 1961 until 1997, he remained the music director and primary conductor for Eastern Music Festival. His passion continues to live on in the hearts of our faculty and staff, young artists, and supporters.
Throughout its 60-year history, EMF has maintained and realized its quest for excellence – in performance, education, programming, and execution. Faculty members participate in the students’ curriculum in a variety of ways, including teaching private lessons, coaching chamber music, teaching theory, or leading master classes. Many of the Festival’s guest artists also assist in the education of our students through performances and participation in a master class. Every EMF orchestral student rehearses six times a week and presents a full-length concert of standard orchestral repertoire. The two Young Artists Orchestras are of equal ability; seating assignments change weekly, and students generally perform with both orchestras during the course of the Festival. They are held to the same professional standards as our faculty regarding performance, attendance, and punctuality. In addition, our students experience performing with faculty soloists and visiting artists.
A hallmark of EMF’s decades of musical excellence is its expansion of summer educational programs. What started as an orchestral program has grown to include a five-week piano program (ages 14 to 23), a pre-professional conducting institute (for ages 18 and older), orchestral fellowships for strings, trombone, and percussion (ages 23 to 33), a two-week classical guitar program, and new for 2019, a two-week euphonium tuba institute. The Festival season of concerts and events occur on the campus of Guilford College and now at partner venues across the Triad and Boone, NC.
Eastern Music Festival’s nearly 10,000 alumni include many who have continued in professional careers in music, as well as a variety of careers in the performing arts, business, health care, higher education, and law. Many members of the Eastern Festival Orchestra are also EMF alumni, including concertmaster Jeffrey Multer, assistant principal viola Chauncey Patterson, and Distinguished Teaching Artist Victoria Chiang. EMF also has an impressive roster of guest artists that perform and teach, including Midori, violin; Sarah Chang, violin; Yo-Yo Ma, cello; Leonard Rose, cello; Dame Evelyn Glennie, percussion; Sir James Galway, flute; Lynn Harrell, cello; and André Watts, piano, among others.
Eastern Music Festival’s mission is to promote musical enrichment, excellence, professional collaboration, innovation and diversity through a nationally recognized teaching program, music festival, concerts and other programs which will enhance the quality of life, health and vitality of our region.