Music festival returns for its 10th year

Twelve free concerts offered around town


For Oyster Bay residents who have missed the annual weeklong series of “pop-up” classical concerts by young musicians that have become a part of the cultural landscape in recent years, there’s good news: The Oyster Bay Musical Festival is back. From June 27 through July 6, it will celebrate its 10th anniversary with 12 free concerts.

The theme? Indispensable Music. The locations? Some of the most beautiful settings on the North Shore, including Planting Fields, Chelsea Mansion, Cedarmere Estate, Raynham Hall Education Center, the Nassau County Museum of Art, Congregation L’Dor V’Dor and the Western Waterfront.

OBMF started 10 years ago, intending to dot the town of Oyster Bay with classical music concerts, often two or three a day, for just over a week.

The first year’s concerts were informal affairs, according to festival Co-director Lauren Ausubel, a Huntington resident. “That first year, we had a flatbed truck with amplification, and small groups of musicians more or less materialized in unusual and intimate settings in the hamlet to perform,” Ausubel recalled. “We thought it would appeal to people in Oyster Bay to be able to experience classical music without going to the city.”

Since then, the festival has grown into a community institution, with new local venues requesting to be a stop on the concert tour each year.

“We’re over the moon that they’re back,” said Harriet Gerard Clark, executive director of Raynham Hall. “They always have such talented musicians, and now we can host them in our new performance space. In the past they had to perform in our Victorian Room — it was a bit of a pinch. We could only fit about 20 people in there, and with no A/C, it could get quite warm. Now we seat 60 with the French doors open, and with A/C it’s going to be much more inviting.”

Gerard Clark said she was particularly pleased with the theme of the music that will be performed at the hall. “In this case they’re playing July Fourth celebrations,” she said. “And as an organization that interprets Revolutionary War history, we’re all about that.”

The concerts feature gifted young musicians who study at Juilliard, Yale, the Eastman School of Music, the San Francisco Conservatory and Hofstra, among others. Audience favorites such as the Zandieh Trio, from Oyster Bay; pianist Maxim Lando, winner of the prestigious Young Concert Artists Competition; and award-winning flutist Matthew Ross will return this season. New guests include sitarist Rishab Sharma, the youngest and last disciple of Ravi Shankar, and soprano Emily Donato.

Charles Zandieh, a member of the Zandieh Trio, has performed extensively across the tristate area, including solo and chamber performances at venues such as Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Tilles Center and Steinway Hall. His press features include articles and highlights in The Daily News and News12 Long Island, and he was headlined on Ovation TV’s original series “Young Marvels.”

The Zandieh Trio comprises Charles, 20, a Julliard graduate, on cello, and his brothers, Cameron, 21, a graduate of the Mannes School of Music, on violin, and 16-year-old Christopher, a Syosset High School student, on piano. All three are Oyster Bay Cove residents and products of Syosset High.

The Zandiehs performed at the festival two years ago. “Last time around, it certainly was an exciting experience collaborating with other artists, sharing talent and creativity,” Charles said, “and we’re looking forward to it again.”

Like other festival participants, the trio is hard at work, preparing music that fits the themes of the concerts. “We feel there are a lot of pieces that will work with the various themes of the individual concerts,” Charles said. “When it comes to Music that Laughs, for example, there’s Mozart and Haydn, both of whom were like class clowns. It’s interesting to think about what’s in our repertoire that is in sync with those themes.”

Amid all the concertizing, however, the core of the festival experience for students is the intense learning opportunity it offers through its Performance Intensive, a “retreat” for young classical music students that includes master classes, coaching, seminars and repertoire study.

“The Performance Intensive is a great opportunity to share ideas on interpretation,” Zandieh said. “Yes, we’ll have some solo performances, and some with my brothers. But they like us to collaborate with each other. We’ll have enough players for some larger ensemble pieces.”

And for the general public? Ausubel and fellow festival director Pippa Borisy promise that “the performance talent and energy at each concert will not disappoint.”