Conductor and violinist Martin Vaillancourt is shown working with the orchestra on a reading of the Beethoven Symphony No. 5’s fourth movement at the Monteux Music School & Festival in Hancock in 2019. MONTEUX MUSIC SCHOOL & FESTIVAL PHOTO

Monteux School to hold in-person concerts



HANCOCK — The seaside town once again will be alive with the sound of music this summer. In its 78th year, the Monteux School & Music Festival is preparing to stage in-person concerts as part of its educational program from June 20 through July 25.

After the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, the Monteux School was forced to shift to online classes, seminars and broadcasts of previous concerts. But Maine’s steady decline in COVID-19 cases and state officials’ easing of restrictions for musical events venues have enabled the school not only to resume its educational program, but also hold its customary series of concerts anticipated by the public. School staff and faculty are gearing up to welcome about 60 students (student recruitment still continues), 18 conductors and three guest conductors to perform in its concert hall nestled in a woodland setting at the head of Frenchman Bay. 

“It was different. It was better than nothing,” Executive Director Marc Thayer recalled of last year’s modified programming. “I’m really glad we can get back to the live experience.”

The program, located fittingly along Melody Lane off Route 1, was founded in 1943 by renowned conductor Pierre Monteux. 

Instrumental and conducting students are recruited to the intensive, summer program. According to the program’s website, “Students approach a challenging repertoire with discipline and rigor, learning from faculty, guest artists and each other in a mutually respectful and supportive environment.”

This environment includes an annual music festival and public concerts offered twice a week. 

“Wednesday orchestras are small groups, small ensembles of students,” Thayer explained. 

Sunday concerts feature conducting students and a live orchestra.

Thayer is still determining if the program’s typical family concerts, held on Thursday mornings, will happen this year.

The “festival [is] pretty much back to normal,” Thayer said. He added some tweaks have been made to comply with guidelines set by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, like limiting the audience attending indoors, and offering outside seating, 

Thayer said it has not yet been determined if this summer’s concerts will be recorded and streamed online due to the historic concert hall.

“It’s not easy,” Thayer said of recording. “Our hall is very rustic, so we’re not sure yet.”

This year’s guest conductors are all alumni of the Monteux program and include Ludovic Morlot, a former conductor with the Seattle Symphony, Neal Gittleman, the artistic director of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and David Rahbee, the orchestra director and professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. Tickets will be sold in advance and those interested can visit the school’s website at monteuxmusic.org for up-to-date ticket information. For more info, call 812-6260. 

Rebecca Alley

Rebecca Alley

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Rebecca is the Schoodic-area reporter and covers the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Lamoine, Sorrento, Sullivan, Waltham, Winter Harbor and Trenton. She lives in Ellsworth with her husband and baby boy who was joyously welcomed in June 2020. Feel free to send tips and story ideas to [email protected]

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