Castleton Festival: A Musical Meeting of the Minds

Near the roaring Rappahannock River, the 2013 Castleton Festival, running through July 28, is making some noise of its own – in the form of beautiful, harmonious operas and orchestras.

“A place where future meets the present – the future stars of the opera and concert worlds are nurtured by its present stars,” the festival describes itself as a meeting place of musical minds and talent. Through the rehearsals and shows, aspiring musicians have the opportunity to meet, work with and learn from veteran virtuosos. Through their interactions, both generations of musicians can share past experiences, learn from each other, and hone their skills.

“Both of us care very much about young people, and feel that there is a kind of basic misunderstanding, especially in the United States, that young people don’t care about classical music or theater or opera or whatever,” said festival-founder and renowned conductor Maestro Lorin Maazel in an interview with PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown of his and his wife’s motivation to start the annual event.

This year, more than 180 young artists, students, and mentors are involved in the festival, presenting audiences with a kaleidoscope of musical performances. Renowned conductor and festival-founder Maestro Lorin Maazel, German actress Dietlinde Turban Maazel, Jewish opera singer Neil Shicoff and orchestra conductor Rafael Payare are among the musical gurus participating.

The festival features productions of “Otello,” “The Girl of the Golden West” and “La Voix Humaine” and concerts, including the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Mahler, Britten, Tchaikovsky and the festival’s own Young Composer’s Forum. In addition, the festival offers many song recitals and chamber music shows.

Located at Castleton Farms, the Maazels’ home, the natural setting coupled with the mellifluous music creates a one-of-a-kind experience. “You forget you are in a field on a farm because you are transported to another place – an exciting, thrilling, world-class performance worthy of the Met or Kennedy Center,” said festival spokeswoman Jenny Lawhorn.
“It is impossible to avoid the creativity and enthusiasm all around the place,” Lawhorn continued. She recommended the recitals performed in the small theater by students from the Castleton Artists Training Seminar because “they attract an insider audience of artists and singers who are electrifying company.”

“The Girl of the Golden West” is another highlight. “An opera about the American Wild West [and] California Gold Rush,” the performance “is so fabulous…like Gunsmoke but in Italian,” explained Lawhorn.

To round out the experience, the festival also offers fine dining. Dinners and brunches prepared by chef Claire Lamborne include gourmet options such as truffle scented lobster risotto, jumbo lump crab cake and parmesan-crusted cod, sweet potato biscuits and Virginia ham and orange cranberry scones.

On a full stomach and musical high, festivalgoers will gain an appreciation for “how interesting and modern and relatable” these art forms are, Lawhorn said.

Who could say “no” to this?

Information about performances, tickets, directions and fine dining can be found [here](

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