Tom Hatch introduced today’s guest speaker, Ricardo Sepulveda, Director of the Kent Blossom Music Festival.+
Kent Blossom is in its 53rd year. It was started as a collaboration between the Cleveland Orchestra and Kent State University at the time Blossom Music Center was created. Early supporters of the project and founding members of the advisory committee included world-renowned classical musicians such as Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copeland, James Gingold, Pierre Boulez, George Szell. The original idea, to provide a truly professional experience for young musicians, still guides the program today. Students receive instruction from KSU Faculty and Cleveland Orchestra members. They also perform at Blossom Music Center, rehearse at Severance Hall, and play a side-by-side concert with the Cleveland Orchestra.
Graduates of the program include many of the leading classical musicians of our day. These include Jerry Grossman, who founded the Emerson String Quartet, winner of nine Emmy awards. Amy Lee, Associate Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra and KSU faculty and her husband, Frank Rosenwein, first oboe of the Cleveland Orchestra and head of the oboe department at Cleveland Institute of Music are both graduates, as is our speaker, Ricardo Sepulveda. Ricardo is from Columbia and first came to the US as a foreign exchange student in Boise, Idaho. After graduating from college in Columbia, he returned to the US and has received two degrees from Kent State in violin performance.
During the five-week summer program, which focusses on chamber music, the students and faculty present a series of concerts and perform more than 50 different works. Kevin Hines, a pianist who was a student in 2017 and 2018 recalled his intense and overwhelming experience at KBM when he was assigned the Quarter for the End of Time by the French composer Olivier Messiaen. Kevin also thanked his host family, Nelson and Suzanne Burns, for enriching his Kent experience. Many Kent Rotarians are supporters of the program and several serve as host families for selected students.
In this year of Covid-19, KBM collaborated with the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY on a “capstone internship” for Eva Zhang. She helped produce some concerts of recorded performances from past years presented virtually, which replaced the live concerts. Ricardo noted that he is preparing various scenarios for next year’s program. Plans are flexible and will depend on the situation we face with the pandemic at the time.
Nelson Burns provided the response for the club.