By Natasha Anderson
Brevard Music Center’s (BMC’s) 2023 Summer Festival Season is drawing to a close. In the lead-up to a grand finale weekend that takes place Friday, August 4, through Sunday, August 6, artistic director Keith Lockhart reflects on his past at BMC and in the classical music industry and the changes that affect today’s aspiring musicians. He first set foot on BMC’s campus in 1974 as a student, coming of age at a time he describes as “about the peak in quantity and quality on the American orchestral scene.” He has observed many changes over the ensuing 40 years.
“Today’s students, I believe, are much more dialed in to the complexities of the music industry,” he says.” They’re also really good. I’m not sure I would even have gotten in if I had been up against today’s level of competition.”
The new generation of musicians needs to be not only technically excellent but flexible and fluent across a wide variety of musical genres. They also need to have marketing, technological and business skill sets that no one would have asked them to obtain 25 years ago, according to Lockhart. As BMC’s current president and CEO, Mark Weinstein, retires at the end of 2023, his successor Jason Posnock will work alongside Lockhart to create new ways to educate the whole musician, and prepare them to compete in an increasingly competitive environment.
“I think we share a common vision of what Brevard is and what it should aspire to be,” says Lockhart, “and I look forward to working side by side with him to realize those goals.”
In the meantime, he and the BMC faculty, students and community will celebrate the end of the 2023 season with two major concerts, featuring music by Bedrich Smetana and Giuseppe Verdi. On August 4 at 7:30 p.m., BMC students perform a program featuring Kraig Alan Williams with the Brevard Symphonic Winds, and Keith Lockhart with the Brevard Concert Orchestra. Lockhart conducts two orchestral masterpieces including Smetana’s rolling depiction of the Vlatava River, and Prokofiev’s film music for the movie The Moldau.
“Vlatava is one of the most perfect miniature tone poems I can think of,” Lockhart says. “It describes a river beginning as tiny rivulets in the mountains, which weave together, eventually, to form a mighty river that passes by scenes of Czech life… carrying the hopes and dreams of the Czech people with it.”
On August 6 at 3 p.m., the season concludes with the glorious Verdi Requiem presented by the Brevard Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Lockhart. This enthralling large-scale work is scored for double choir, full symphony orchestra, and features four soloists. Verdi’s Requiem is one of the world’s most beloved choral works, bringing drama and grandeur to the concert stage with more than 200 performers, soloists and musicians.