Monday, June 25, 2012

Washington College Riverfront Concert Series Features the Pam Ortiz Band and Sombarkin' July 5

Singer and songwriter Pam Ortiz and her band perform July 5.
CHESTERTOWN, MD – The Pam Ortiz Band and the √† cappella vocal trio Sombarkin' will present a powerful evening of folk, gospel and other quintessentially American music on the Chester River waterfront July 5, the second performance in this summer’s popular Washington College Riverfront Concert Series.

Each of this year's events will include a special birthday tribute to American folk icon Woody Guthrie, who was born 100 years ago, on July 14, 1912.

A singer-songwriter who performed for a decade in packed Baltimore and Washington coffeehouses and recorded three albums with the group Terra Nova, Pam Cardullo Ortiz has most recently joined forces with her husband, Bob Ortiz (musician, actor and Chestertown furniture maker par excellence) on percussion, Ford Schumann on guitar and Nevin Dawson on fiddle. With an album of all-new songs in the works, Ortiz describes her compositions as "songs that speak of who we are, what we’ve won and lost, how we love and live."

Based in Worton, Md., Sombarkin' is known for its vocal instrumentation and beautiful harmonies. Together, Karen Somerville, Lester Barrett, Jr., and Jerome McKinney deliver an explosive performance of black spirituals, folk, gospel, jazz and contemporary selections, whose uplifting and haunting melodies tell powerful stories of sorrow, hope, freedom and joy.

Hosted by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, the free concerts all begin at 6:30 p.m. on the lawn of the Custom House at High and Water streets. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets, lawn chairs and picnic dinners. Lemonade and cookies will be provided free of charge. In case of inclement weather, the concerts will take place in The Egg, a performance space in Hodson Hall Commons on the main Washington College campus.

Sombarkin’s trio: Lester Barrett, Jr., Karen Somerville, Jerome McKinney. 
The series will end July 19 with a performance by the internationally acclaimed Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, which has its roots in traditional American dance and music (from Southern Appalachian clogging to the African-American body percussion art of hamboning).

Launched by the Starr Center in 2010, the Riverfront Concert Series builds on the Center's longstanding interest in the musical traditions of the Chesapeake Bay and its rich heritage of storytelling. The series host is the Starr Center’s program manager, Michael Buckley, whose weekly radio program on Annapolis-based WRNR, 103.1 FM (Sundays, 7 to 10 a.m.) includes the acclaimed interview series "Voices of the Chesapeake Bay." Special assistance for the Concert Series is provided by Yerkes Construction and Washington College’s Dance Program and Student Events Board (SEB), with additional support from the Maryland State Arts Council.

For more information about the Pam Ortiz Band, visit her web site at  For information about the concert series and other Starr Center programs, visit or call 410-810-7161.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Construction Begins on Fitness Center Expansion, Fundraising Well Underway to Reach $2 Million

A rendering shows the glass-walled addition to the JFC.

CHESTERTOWN, MD, June 14, 2012—Construction begins this week to expand and update the Benjamin A. Johnson Fitness Center at Washington College. The $2 million project will include both a 3,200 square-foot gallery addition and reconstruction of the existing fitness space.
            During construction, which is expected to last through December, the Fitness Center facilities will remain open as usual to students, faculty, staff, and members of the College’s 1782 Society. A temporary wall will separate the construction areas from the areas still in use.
            The Johnson Fitness Center Renovation Committee, which is led by Board of Visitors and Governors chair Edward Nordberg ’82 and John Moag, Jr. ’77, is well on its way to raising the $2 million needed to fully complete the renovations. More than $1.4 million had been donated by June 1. Barbara Heck, senior associate vice president for College Advancement, says donors of $1,500 or more will be recognized by name in the new space. (To learn more about how to help or to make a pledge, call the Advancement office at 410-778-7805.)
            At a ceremonial groundbreaking held outside the Fitness Center in April, Nordberg unveiled a plaque dedicated to William B. Johnson, the alumnus who made both the original building and the current renovations possible. Bill Johnson and his family, which includes current Board member Ben Johnson, made a lead gift of $500,000 for the renovation, continuing a tradition of involvement and support that dates back a century.
            Bill Johnson’s father, Benjamin Alvin Johnson, graduated from Washington College in 1911 and became a well-respected Maryland jurist. Bill Johnson, himself, graduated maxima cum laude from Washington College in 1940, taking home six senior class awards. He earned a law degree and then launched a stellar career in business, starting off in the railroad industry and eventually becoming CEO of the multi-billion conglomerate Illinois Central Industries.
            More than 20 years ago, Bill Johnson made the lead gift on the original fitness center building in honor of his father. Now his family’s half-million dollar gift is making the necessary upgrades possible.
            Athletics Director Bryan Matthews ’75 says the College community has simply outgrown the current facility. It was built for a student body of 900 undergraduates. In recent years, both student population and participation in fitness training have grown exponentially. The student body now numbers closer to 1,400, athletes are increasing their weight and cardiovascular training in order to improve their skills and overall stamina, and more non-athletes are turning to fitness as a means of stress and weight management. Faculty and staff, too, frequent the JFC in order to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle.    
            Under the new design, the space devoted to cardiovascular and weight training will more than double. A glass-enclosed gallery with a curving 18-foot wall of windows will house cardiovascular equipment such as treadmills, stair steppers and ellipticals. The addition will also have a designated space for circuit training and floor work. The existing fitness space will be used only for strength training, with universal weight machines and free weights.
            Matthews says the improved JFC will help the College stay competitive in admissions and athlete recruitment.  “Many schools in the Centennial Conference have recently invested a lot of money in their athletic facilities,” he explains, “and prospective students and their families expect excellent athletic facilities to go hand-in-hand with excellent academic programming.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

TEDxChesterRiver Brings Thought-Provoking TED Talks Concept to the College Campus June 30

"The Tolkien Professor" Corey Olsen will speak at TEDxChesterRiver.

CHESTERTOWN, MD—A local version of the popular TED talks will bring a dozen speakers to the Washington College campus Saturday afternoon, June 30. Organized by Chestertown resident Elise Kolaja, the half-day event, TEDxChesterRiver, is scheduled for 1 to 6 p.m. in the Gibson Center for the Arts, and will host a range of notables, from former Congressman Wayne Gilchrest and guitar maker Paul Reed Smith to human-animal bonding expert Meg Daley Olmert—all to address the broad theme of “Where We Belong.
College Athletic Director Bryan Matthews will talk about how parents
can best help their children successfully navigate college life.
Also included on the roster are two experts from Washington College—Athletic Director Bryan Matthews and English professor Corey Olsen. Matthews will draw from both personal and professional experience for his talk, “College as a Family Affair: Navigating the Maze.” He and his wife, professional singer Sue Matthews, have sent two sons off to higher education, and he’s helped guide thousands of other students through college over the course of his career. “I contend that there needs to be a serious reframing of the relationship between colleges, students and parents,” he says. “Particularly, parents need to change their approach to the college project. They don’t need to cut the cord, just stretch it.”
Professor Olsen, a noted Tolkien expert, will explore the connection between academia and technology. His starting point will be his own successful experiences as the online “Tolkien Professor,” podcasting about the fantasy author’s works. Olsen’s book, Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” will be published this fall by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Organizer Kolaja says the theme of the 12 brief talks in this inaugural TEDxChesterRiver is “Where We Belong.” Each talk attempts to chart in some way where we fit in “among the species and in nature, in our culture, in history and prehistory, and even in the universe,” she says. A complete schedule and list of speakers is on the event web site:
Founded in 1984 by architect and graphic designer Richard Saul Wurman, TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a series of global conferences founded to disseminate “ideas worth spreading.” TED talks have been given by thoughtful notables ranging from poet Billy Collins to software billionaire Bill Gates and singer-activist Bono. The series has grown in scope and popularity over the years and has distributed its talks on the Internet since 2006. To accommodate the increasing demand for intellectual stimulation and discussion, TED founded TEDx, which allows independent organizers like Kolaja to use the TED license and format in their community with locally selected lecturers.
Tickets for the Chestertown event can be purchased on the TEDxChesterRiver website ( at $30 per seat. Registration will close end of day Thursday, June 28.  Admission includes a beverage break and a happy hour reception. For more information about TED or footage of past TED talks visit

Art History Professor Aileen Tsui Gives Invited Lectures on Whistler's Art in Tokyo and Beijing

Whistler's "Caprice in Purple and Gold: The Golden Screen," from
 the Freer Gallery of Art, was among the works Professor Tsui explored
 in her lecture at Sophia University.

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Professor Aileen Tsui was recently a guest lecturer at two prestigious universities in Asia, sharing her expertise on the works of American artist James McNeill Whistler.

Tsui, an associate professor of art history at Washington College, delivered a lecture at Sophia University in Tokyo titled “Whistler’s Golds: Classicism, Japanism and Modernist Authority.” Her lecture explored Whistler’s fascination with the color, material and metaphorical resonance of gold. From there she examined the artist’s participation in modernist challenges to traditional Western standards for judging the quality and value of art. She also addressed the broader issue of how Whistler’s paintings were affected by his fascination with, and admiration for, Japanese and Chinese art. 

At Peking University’s School of Art in Beijing, China, her lecture was titled “Chinese Porcelain and Modern Painting in Nineteenth-Century Britain: The Case of James McNeill Whistler's Art."

Tsui joined the Washington College faculty in 2004. A graduate of Yale University who earned her Ph.D. from Harvard University and was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University, she focuses much of her research and teaching in the areas of British, French and American art of the 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition to delving into Whistler’s career, her specialties include exoticism in visual culture, modernist painting, feminist theories in the visual arts, and the relationship between image and text.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Centreville's Nina Sharp Receives Mary Martin Drama Scholarship at Washington College

Nina Sharp as Philia in a 2010 production
of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way
 to the Forum at Washington College.
CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Washington College Department of Drama has named Nina Sharp, a rising senior from Centreville, Md., as the recipient of the 2012 Mary Martin Drama Scholarship. Established in 1992 by Matthew Weir ’90 in honor of his grandmother, the great actress Mary Martin, the scholarship is awarded each year to a student majoring in Drama who demonstrates great dedication to any area of the theater arts. The 2012 scholarship award is expected to be approximately $16,000.

Sharp, a drama major with a minor in English, has been a self-described “theater geek” since she took on her first roles at Centreville Middle School, roles that included the same character, Peter Pan, that Mary Martin played to great acclaim. Sharp has since played the title role of Anne in The Diary of Anne Frank, Abigail Williams in The Crucible,  Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and, most recently, Jill in a production of Equus at Church Hill Theatre.  

Aside from acting, Nina also has a passion for the technical side of theater, and has excelled in directing, stage-managing, costuming, set constructing, and much more. She has spent countless hours rehearsing, working, learning and playing in Washington College's cutting-edge Gibson Center for the Arts, and will be directing her thesis there in November of 2012.

Nina has worked as a part-time stagehand at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center, and this summer she is interning at Church Hill Theatre as an assistant director for the Green Room Gang Theatre Group. She has worked for five years at Chestertown Natural Foods and served as a dormitory Resident Assistant on campus her junior year. She has earned a spot on the Dean’s List each semester of her college career.

“Nina is one of those students that we all love to work with, both in and out of the classroom,” says Dr. Michele Volansky, an associate professor of drama and chair of the Drama Department.  “She is a stand-out citizen of the department as well as a natural leader who sets the bar high for her peers.”

Mary Martin with grandson Matt Weir '90
Volansky says Sharp shares with the famous Mary Martin the ability to take a part and make it her own. For theater people, the mention of Martin’s name brings to mind a particularly vivid set of images: Ensign Nellie Forbush washing that man right outa her hair, Dolly Winslow—whose heart belongs to Daddy—shedding her furs, and Peter Pan teaching the Darling children to fly and to crow. Working on stage, screen and radio, Martin brought to life a formidable range of other characters, including Maria in The Sound of Music, for which she won the Tony Award in 1960. Martin also garnered Tony Awards for her work as Peter Pan (1955) and as Annie Oakley in the touring company of Annie Get Your Gun (1948).  She toured the United States and the world as Dolly Levi in the international touring company of Hello, Dolly!, which included engagements in Okinawa, Korea, Japan, South Vietnam, and London.

For more information on the Drama Department and the Mary Martin Scholarship, please visit:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Jehanne Dubrow Named Director of Rose O'Neill Literary House at Washington College

Jehanne Dubrow with Argos. Photo by Jeremy Schaub. 

No longer just an interim position for the
 acclaimed poet and professor. 

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Award-winning poet Jehanne Dubrow, originally appointed to a two-year interim term as director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College, has officially been named director in full.

In making the announcement, English Department Chair Kathryn Moncrief described Dubrow as “an unusually prolific and well-published poet who is a rising star in the literary world.  Jehanne’s national reputation as a writer, her scholarly and creative energy, her teaching ability, and her administrative skills combine to make her an ideal choice as Director of the Literary House,” she added.   

Dubrow, who teaches creative writing and literature at the College, has produced four full-length volumes of poetry. Her newest collection, Red Army Red, is due out from Northwestern University Press in October of this year.  Her 2010 collection, Stateside, is based on her experiences as a military wife, or “milspouse” (her husband, Jeremy, is an officer in the U.S. Navy). Earlier work includes two poetry collections, From the Fever World and The Hardship Post, and a chapbook titled The Promised Bride. Excerpts of From from the Fever World were recently set to music in a song cycle by Polish composer Joanna Bruzdowicz.

She has been a recipient of the 2012 Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America, the 2012 Towson University Prize for Literature, an Individual Artist’s Award from the Maryland State Arts Council, a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship and Howard Nemerov Poetry Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and a Sosland Foundation Fellowship from the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

The daughter of U.S. diplomats, Dubrow was born in Italy and grew up in posts around the globe, including Poland, Austria and Zaire. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John’s College, then completed a master’s in creative writing at the University of Maryland and a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Dubrow’s poems, creative nonfiction and book reviews have appeared in journals such as The New Republic, Poetry, Ploughshares, The Hudson Review, The New England Review, Barrow Street, Gulf Coast, Blackbird, Shenandoah and Prairie Schooner. She also blogs about the writing life at “Notes from the Gefilte Review.”

In accepting the interim post last year, Dubrow said she wanted students to view the Lit House as both a fun gathering place and a space where they  can practice and develop the skills, behaviors and strategies of professional writers. She also aims to bring to campus, more emerging artists, “writers who have already built impressive careers but who are also young enough to connect with and inspire our undergraduates.”

The Literary House was founded in 1970. It moved to its present location at 407 Washington Avenue in the mid-1980s after a generous gift from Mrs. Betty Brown Casey ’47 and her husband Eugene B. Casey helped the College purchase and renovate the building. The House is named in honor of Eugene Casey’s mother, Rose O’Neill Casey.

Professor Bob Day directed the Lit House until his retirement in 1997. Since then, it has been led by Professor Robert Mooney (1997-2005), novelist Benjamin Anastas (interim, 2005-06), historian Joshua Wolf Shenk (2006-2009) and documentary poet Mark Nowak (2009-2011). For more on the Literary House:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chester River Runoff Kicks off 3rd Annual Washington College Riverfront Concerts June 21

The musicians of Chester River Runoff: from left, Marc Dykeman M’07,
 Ben Armiger, Sam Guthridge ’04 and Nate Grower. Photo courtesy of Loblolly Productions.

CHESTERTOWN, MD— The popular Washington College Riverfront Concert Series, hosted by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, returns for a third year of free Thursday evening performances on the Custom House lawn. This year’s lineup includes three beloved local ensembles — Chester River Runoff on June 21 and the Pam Ortiz Band along with the vocal trio Sombarkin on July 5.

Then, to cap off the series, the internationally acclaimed Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, with its roots in traditional American dance and music (from Southern Appalachian clogging to the African-American body percussion art of hamboning), will perform on July 19.

Each event will include a special happy birthday salute to American folk icon Woody Guthrie, who was born 100 years ago, on July 14, 1912.

“People have told me that this is their favorite Starr Center program and that they’ve begun to look forward to it every summer,” says Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the Starr Center. “So much of the ‘American experience’ resonates through our country’s great musical traditions. And there’s nothing like enjoying a great band and a picnic by the banks of the Chester River on a beautiful summer evening.”

Launched by the Starr Center in 2010, the Riverfront Concert Series builds on the Center’s longstanding interest in the musical traditions of the Chesapeake Bay and its rich heritage of storytelling. The series host is the Starr Center’s program manager, Michael Buckley, whose weekly radio program on Annapolis-based WRNR, 103.1 FM (Sundays, 7 to 10 a.m.) includes the acclaimed interview series “Voices of the Chesapeake Bay.” Special assistance for the Concert Series is provided by Yerkes Construction and Washington College’s Dance Program and Student Events Board (SEB), with additional support from the Maryland State Arts Council.

The opening concert on June 21 will feature the Eastern Shore’s own Chester River Runoff. Since 2004, the band has been wowing crowds at festivals and in clubs from Maine to Nashville with its honest, unaffected sound. Rooted in traditional bluegrass, their music is sometimes described as “newgrass,” or “a combination of bluegrass, alt-country and acoustic Hillbilly jazz.”

“For harmonies, runaway instrumentals and sheer delight, no one does bluegrass like Chester River Runoff,” the Chesapeake Maritime News says of the band, which features Ben Armiger (guitar, vocals), Marc Dykeman M’07 (bass, vocals), Nate Grower (fiddle, vocals) and Sam Guthridge ’04 (banjo, vocals). “Their repertoire goes well beyond the bluegrass standards to embrace homegrown material that reflects their Eastern Shore roots: call it eelgrass, call it bluecrabgrass, call it an incredible mix of fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass and vocals.”
The free public concerts all begin at 6:30 p.m. behind the Custom House, corner of High and Water streets in downtown Chestertown. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets, lawn chairs and picnic dinners. Lemonade and cookies will be provided free of charge. In case of inclement weather, the concerts will take place in The Egg, a performance space in Hodson Hall Commons on the main Washington College campus.

For more information about Chester River Runoff, visit their web site at For information about the concert series and other Starr Center programs, visit or call 410-810-7161.
                                                            *   *   *

Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences located in colonial Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The college’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is dedicated to fostering innovative approaches to the American past and present. Through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach, and a special focus on written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between the academic world and the public at large.

Monday, June 4, 2012

"Liberty's Exiles" Author Maya Jasanoff Named Winner of $50,000 George Washington Book Prize

Jasanoff with the Prize medal at Mt. Vernon
MOUNT VERNON, VA.— One of the nation’s largest literary awards, the annual George Washington Book Prize, has been awarded to Maya Jasanoff for Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (Knopf, 2011).  Jasanoff, a professor of history at Harvard University, received the $50,000 prize on Monday evening, June 4, at a black-tie dinner at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum and Gardens.
While it has long been said that history is written by the victors, Jasanoff vigorously challenges that idea in her powerful account of the lives of those who fought against the American Revolution. Liberty’s Exiles is a riveting story of the losers in America’s struggle for independence, loyalists who found themselves in a world turned upside down. Yet Jasanoff also describes how these exiles – who fled their lost colonies for the distant corners of the globe, from Nova Scotia to West Africa to India – helped shape the future of the British Empire.
The Washington Prize, honoring the year’s best book about America’s founding era, is sponsored by a partnership of three institutions devoted to furthering historical scholarship: Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and George Washington's Mount Vernon. It particularly recognizes well-written books that speak to general audiences and contribute to a broad public understanding of the American past.
“Maya Jasanoff vividly tells the stories of individual people swept up in the treacherous – and sometimes fatal – currents of history,” says Adam Goodheart, director of Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the prize. “She brings the past to life by putting readers in the shoes of these characters, from wealthy merchants to African-American slaves.”
“Told through the eyes of American loyalists, Liberty’s Exiles is a masterful combination of archival research and narrative storytelling,” adds James G. Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, which funds the award. “Jasanoff delivers brilliant insight into the lives and motives of the 60,000 loyalists who sought refuge around the world after independence, depicting the global impact of that mass exodus and providing a fresh and engaging perspective on the American Revolution.”
Liberty’s Exiles has received many accolades since its publication, including the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction. It was shortlisted for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize in Nonfiction.
Jasanoff was educated at Harvard, Cambridge and Yale, and is currently Professor of History at Harvard University. Her first book, Edge of Empire: Lives, Culture, and Conquest in the East, 1750-1850, was awarded the 2005 Duff Cooper Prize and was a book-of-the-year selection in numerous publications, including The Economist, The Observer and The Sunday Times. She has contributed essays to The London Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books and other publications.
From left, Washington College president Mitchell B. Reiss, winner
 Maya Jasanoff and Mount Vernon regent Ann Bookout.
In praising Liberty’s Exiles, the Washington Prize jury applauded the book’s “impressive archival research, its sweeping conceptualization, perspectives and aims, its enviable prose style and the penetrating insights it yields into its characters’ lives.”
The Mount Vernon event also celebrated the works of the two other finalists for this year’s prize: John Fea’s Was America Founded As A Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction (Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), and Benjamin H. Irvin’s Clothed in Robes of Sovereignty: The Continental Congress and the People Out of Doors (Oxford University Press, 2011).
 Finalists were selected by a three-person jury of distinguished American historians: Richard Beeman, the John Welsh Centennial Professor of History emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania and the 2010 winner of the George Washington Book Prize, who served as chair; Thomas Fleming, distinguished historian and author; and Marla R. Miller, author and professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  Jasanoff's book was named the ultimate winner by a panel of representatives from each of the three institutions that sponsor the prize, plus historian Barbara Oberg of Princeton University.
For more information about the George Washington Book Prize, please go to And for more photos from Mount Vernon, visit the Event Gallery on the Washington College website.
The three Book Prize finalists pose during the reception on the
 lawn at Mount Vernon: Benjamin Irvin, Maya Jasanoff, and John Fea.

# # #

About the Sponsors of the George Washington Book Prize:

            Founded in 1782, Washington College was the first institution of higher learning established in the new republic. George Washington was not only a principal donor to the College, but also a member of its original governing board. He received an honorary degree from the College in June 1789, two months after assuming the presidency. The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, founded at the College in 2000, is an innovative center for the study of history, culture and politics, and fosters excellence in the art of written history through fellowships, prizes and student programs.
Founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit organization devoted to the improvement of history education. The Institute has developed an array of programs for schools, teachers and students that now operate in all 50 states, including a website that features the more than 60,000 unique historical documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection, Each year the Institute offers support and resources to tens of thousands of teachers, and through them enhances the education of more than a million students. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians.      
Since 1860, more than 80 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens the most popular historic home in America.  Through thought-provoking tours, entertaining events and stimulating educational programs on the Estate and in classrooms across the nation, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.”  Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, America’s oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853.  Mount Vernon is located just 16 miles from the nation’s capital, at the southern end of the scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway.

Washington College Welcomes the National Music Festival to Campus for Concerts and Rehearsals

Conductor Richard Rosenberg is Artistic
Director of the National Music Festival.

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Washington College campus is alive with classical music as the National Music Festival, co-founded and directed by WC alumna Caitlin Patton ’05, begins its two-week run in Chestertown, June 3-16. In venues throughout Kent County, including the Gibson Center for the Arts, the Festival is offering some 30 classical music concerts and a constant schedule of rehearsals open to the public.

Founded two years ago by Patton and her husband, conductor and composer Richard Rosenberg, the National Music Festival (NMF) mentors gifted musicians who are just starting their professional careers by providing them with performance experience and master classes with seasoned musicians.  Last year, the inaugural NMF was held in Floyd, Va., and drew 90 apprentice musicians and 23 mentors. This year’s festival expects some 110 apprentices and 25 mentors.

 Caitlin Patton '05 is NMF's
executive director.
Patton grew up in Chestertown and hopes to make Kent County a permanent home for the festival, which she serves as executive director. Musicians are being housed in local homes, and the performance venues range from the College’s Decker Theatre to area churches. While most of the concerts are ticketed events, a series of free concerts will include two performances during the Saturday morning Farmers’ Markets in Fountain Park, June 9 and 16, and several events at Emmanuel Church.

The eight performances being hosted by Washington College include a June 4 Master Class in Hotchkiss Recital Hall, beginning at 7:30 p.m, where horn mentor Lowell Greer will lead apprentices and the full festival orchestra in Mozart’s Concerto for Horn No. 4 in E-flat.  The Festival Chamber players will perform in Tawes Theater on Thursday, June 7, at 7:30 p.m., and in Hotchkiss Recital Hall Friday, June 8.

The Chester River Chorale will join the Festival Symphony Orchestra in Decker Theatre on Saturday, June 9, at 7:30 p.m. for a program that includes The Star Spangled Banner Suite, and compositions by Glass and Brahms.

Another special offering: On Monday, June 11, former NPR journalist and host Liane Hansen, who hosted Weekend Edition Sunday until her retirement last spring, will narrate Ogden Nash’s verses to Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals as part of Piano-Mania! That event will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Decker Theatre and will be led by piano mentor Uriel Tsachor.

Many performances require tickets, which are available for suggested donations of $10 (for chamber concerts) and $15 (for full orchestra performances). A $160 Festival Pass provides entry to all performances and includes some special receptions and guaranteed seating. Tickets and passes are available through the website or by phone at 410-778-2064.
Click here for a full schedule of all concerts and open rehearsals, or visit the festival website at