2014-07-17 / Front Page

Newport Music Festival – Magical and Timeless

By Pat Blakeley


Daniel del Pino appears at the Newport Music Festival for the 13th consecutive year. The Spanish pianist will perform in concerts at The Breakers, the Newport Art Museum, and St. John the Evangelist Church. The festival runs through July 27 and offers three to five concerts daily at venues across the island. Daniel del Pino appears at the Newport Music Festival for the 13th consecutive year. The Spanish pianist will perform in concerts at The Breakers, the Newport Art Museum, and St. John the Evangelist Church. The festival runs through July 27 and offers three to five concerts daily at venues across the island. Summer in Newport conjures up many images – visions of sailing, mansions, and beautiful nights come to mind – but nothing embraces all that is Newport quite like its vivid summer music scene, famous the world over.

Now in its 46th season, the Newport Music Festival boasts classical music at its finest, from Bach to Beethoven to Bernstein, with a bit of jazz and ragtime thrown in for good measure. With 67 concerts in 17 days featuring musicians from across the globe, “This is the biggest festival we’ve ever produced,” exclaims General Manager Mark Malkovich IV. The blockbuster event opened July 11 and runs through July 27. Up to five concerts are performed daily in spectacular settings ranging from the Newport Mansions to the Redwood Library to the St. John the Evangelist Church.


Dr. Elmer Booze celebrates his 42nd year with the Newport Music Festival. Dr. Elmer Booze celebrates his 42nd year with the Newport Music Festival. At the center of the festival’s success is a tightly knit family of artists, many of whom return year after year, as well as a longterm cadre of patrons who flock to the performances nightly and sometimes to multiple concerts in a day. Generations of loyal fans have their favorites and many a youngster has been introduced to classical music in the timeless setting of the Newport Music Festival. Once enchanted – by the music, by the ambiance, and by the magic – they become fans for life.

Malkovich selects all the music performed. “It’s a joy to work with the artists. I have a good sense of what works – and doesn’t – in Newport.” As well he should; the festival has been headed by the Malkovich family for 40 years. Dr. Mark P. Malkovich III stepped in to lead the festival in 1975 and served as artistic director until his death in 2010. Malkovich had worked with his father since he was a teenager, learning at his side, and has inherited his father’s instincts for creating a robust program. Both well-known classics and more obscure works will be featured, showcasing the musicianship and artistry of the performers as well as the literature itself.


Italian violinist Grazia Raimondi made her American recital debut at the festival in 2012 and returns this season. Italian violinist Grazia Raimondi made her American recital debut at the festival in 2012 and returns this season. Whatever the genre, the performers are world-class. “I am humbled by the sheer quality of their musicianship, one after the other,” notes Malkovich. The work at all levels is demanding. “It is not magic; it is a lot of hard work, long hard work.”

There are surprises every year but a stunner this season was the early sellout of the July 18 Sunrise Concert at the Chinese Tea House. Malkovich had toyed with the idea of a sunrise event for years, and added the piano and flute concert as a lark, never dreaming that greeting the dawn with music at the Tea House overlooking the water would attract so many. A new tradition may have been born.

“Sea Pictures,” an homage to Newport’s 375th anniversary, is on the schedule for July 20 at the Elms Tent. While looking through old programs, Malkovich realized that his father had done a tribute for the city’s 350th. “I couldn’t not do one for the 375th,” he enthused. Works will reflect the city’s strong nautical ties and end with Vivaldi’s “Storm at Sea.”

The rich programming offered for instrumental and vocal music aficionados attracts a wide audience. Opera and chamber music both have broad bases and each has its fanatics, Malkovich observes. The opera performances do not include fully-staged productions, and the highlighted scene and song selections make the concerts a big draw every year.

A record 30 artists will make their Newport debuts this season alongside 37 veterans, some of whom have appeared for decades. “We are a family,” reports Malkovich, and that family is expanding, he adds, noting that although they are together for just three weeks annually, the work takes place all year long. Their commitment, enthusiasm, and love for the festival is palpable.

Eighty-two year old page turner Dr. Elmer Booze, whose tenure at the Newport Music Festival predates even the Malkovich family’s, has been coming for 42 consecutive seasons. His early involvement was researching music at the Library of Congress, but for decades now he has been in demand as a page turner. Sought after internationally, Booze has flown to Europe to turn pages for numerous artists, but would not miss a festival. “He is our national treasure,” declares Malkovich.

The youngest member of the family of artists will be presented by Spanish pianist Daniel del Pino, performing for the 13th year, who will introduce his six-month-old son to the extended clan.

Keeping the price point of tickets low so that the concerts are available to everybody is a festival priority – many are priced at $20 and most are under $45. Ticket sales generate only 40 percent of the $750,000 budget and fundraising takes place year-round. A gala is scheduled at Rosecliff on July 18, but generating monies for the festival is an ongoing effort.

The quality of the concerts is the payoff for Malkovich. “What the audience sees is the magic, which is as it should be. Life should be about beauty, too, not just the struggle. We are thankful that we can play a little part in that.”

Ticket sales are brisk, reports Malkovich, and several concerts are sold out already. People are advised to call the box office at 401-849- 0100 to avoid disappointment. For scheduling information, visit newportmusic.org.

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