Classical music takes center stage at Hot Springs Music Festival


The Hot Springs Music Festival, which runs from June 4-17 this year, brings together over 100 international musicians each June to Hot Springs. For two weeks these musicians present over 20 concerts and 250 open rehearsals at various venues in town for music lovers to enjoy. The festival, which has been taking place in town for over 20 years, pairs mentor musicians from major orchestras, chamber ensembles and conservatories with pre-professional apprentices, all of whom receive full instructional scholarships. The two groups play side by side in orchestral, chamber, solo recital, vocal, choral, and chamber opera repertoire.

“We hope that guests and visitors will explore our daily rehearsals which are free and open to the public and support these outstanding musicians by attending the nightly concerts for a very modest fee,” said Lynn Payette, Chorus and Executive Director of the Hot Springs Music Festival. “All of our mentors and our talented young apprentices, who come from all over the world, are eager to engage with audience members and they become a vibrant part of the Hot Springs community during the two weeks they are here. While much of the music performed is classical, we also present a wide variety of musical style and time periods. There is something for everyone.”

“Many apprentices return for several years because they enjoy the community and the appreciative audiences,” Payette added. “It is significant that so many talented young musicians from around the world seek out the opportunity to be a part of this festival. The quality of our mentors and our musical programs have put Hot Springs on the artistic map nationally and internationally.  The other factor to remember is while it is primarily classical music, it is presented within an informal atmosphere, which puts audiences at ease immediately.”

According to Payette, the festival begins on Sunday, June 4, with a Brass and Percussion Fanfare on the terrace of the Arlington Hotel.  It is followed by a Mentor Showcase at 7:30 p.m. in the Crystal Ballroom of the Arlington.

She said an event on Monday, June 5 stands out. “It is our Inside Looking Out presentation, where audience members are seated within the orchestra while our Music Director and Principal Conductor Peter Bay guides them through an early reading of one of the major orchestral works,” she said. “It is an opportunity to witness first hand how an already very good performance becomes a great performance.” The event is set to take place at 7:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church Family Life Center.

Payette also mentioned that the Hot Springs Music Festival Chorus, joined by The Village Chorale, will present the Howard Hanson Song of Democracy on Thursday, June 8 at 7: 30 p.m. at Oaklawn Magnet School. “This is a thrilling work, based on poems of Walt Whitman,” she said. “These beautiful words are especially meaningful today.”

She added that most regular festival goers also look forward to their two Potpourri Concerts on Friday, June 9 and 16 at 7:30 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church, where the apprentices perform music they select and rehearse.

The final orchestra concert on Saturday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Oaklawn Magnet School will feature the Tchaikovsky Symphony No 6. “This is a majestic work, sometimes reminiscent of the film music of John Williams, the great marches from Star Wars or Indiana Jones.  I suspect Tchaikovsky was an inspiration to John Williams with portions of this amazing work.”

Information about the Hot Springs Music Festival can be found on their website at Festival passes can be purchased online and tickets at the door are available after festival pass holders have been seated.