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Mountain Home Magazine

EMMF Rhapsodizes Over Rhapsodies

Jul 01, 2024 09:00AM ● By Lilace Mellin Guignard

The eighteenth season of the Endless Mountain Music Festival opens at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 19, at Steadman Theatre on the Mansfield campus of Commonwealth University with the Pennsylvania premiere of Rhapsody in Red, White, and Blue, composed by Peter Boyer and featuring Jeffrey Biegel on piano. Jeffrey requested this composition to honor the centennial of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and celebrate America through music.

Jürgen Thym, Professor Emeritus of Musicology at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, states that Peter Boyer “is a composer worth watching (or hearing). He is one of the most prolific composers in the United States nowadays, writing for the concert hall as well as for film and television. Quite a number of his works are on American themes: Ellis Island: The Dream of America (for which he received a Grammy in 2006 and which PBS featured nationwide in its Great Performances series in 2018), The Dream Lives On: Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers (2010), and Balance of Power (2020-21).”

Jeffrey will be playing with orchestras in all fifty states this year during his Rhapsody National Initiative and chose the EMMF orchestra for the Pennsylvania debut. He says, “The centennial of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue provided the inspiration to celebrate America through music, to show that music can unite us—by which I mean all of us in the US. So far, in each performance, the audiences cheer, cry, and stand together in solidarity.” Then at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 20, at Corning Museum of Glass, Jeffrey is featured again playing Rhapsody in Blue, by Gershwin, who composed it for solo piano and jazz band. It’s a mix of classical and jazz, and the piece helped define the Jazz Age.

EMMF Music Director and Conductor Stephen Gunzenhauser welcomes another great pianist this season: Sheng Cai, who played with EMMF in Pennsylvania several years ago, will come to Corning audiences at 7 p.m. on Saturday, August 3. He will be playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto #20 in D, which includes cadenzas that Mozart improvised and, sadly, were never written down. Beethoven, Hummel, Brahms, Clara Schumann, Busoni, and others fashioned their own when playing this piece. How will Sheng Cai approach the improvisatory sections? You have to be there to find out.

Stephen has once again put together an eclectic slate of programs to delight Twin Tiers audiences, many of whom are not avid classical music fans. “A lot of people say all we do is classical music,” Stephen explains, “and my response is we don’t. We do symphonic music.” Knowing that some people might need convincing, several free concerts are designed to entice first-time attendees as well as seasoned season ticket holders.

One free concert, Neil Diamond to Funk, is at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 21, at the Wellsboro High School Auditorium. Featuring the Endless Mountain Music Festival Orchestra playing a selection of popular favorites from “East St. Louis Blues” to “Sweet Caroline,” “What a Wonderful World,” and “YMCA.” Also featuring clarinetist Trina Gross in “Viktor’s Tale” by John Williams. In another free POPS concert, Anthony Nunziata—singer, songwriter, and BroadwayWorld award winner—is back for his third time. At 2:30 p.m. Sunday, August 4, at Corning Museum of Glass he’ll perform It’s Showtime, which includes new arrangements of his songs and classics, some funk, and motown.

Check the schedule on pages 22-23 or at, where you can also purchase tickets. Or call (570) 787-7800.

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