A Sonic Celebration: The sixth annual Port City Music Festival prioritizes accessibility

Jun 10 • ARTSY SMARTSY, FEATURE SIDEBAR, MusicNo Comments on A Sonic Celebration: The sixth annual Port City Music Festival prioritizes accessibility

Conductor and cellist Dr. Stephen Framil and Wilmington artist Christine Farley have assembled an incredible group of instrumentalists for the sixth annual Port City Music Festival (PCMF). The classical concert series is committed to generating a celebration of great music accessible to all. A nonprofit event held by music ensemble Camerata Philadelphia, Inc. (Camerata), for which Framil serves as music director, the festival will be held from June 8th through the 15th.


Dr. Stephen Framil, cellist and conductor, for the Port City Music Festival. Photo courtesy of Port City Music Festival

Camerata aims to transcend musical boundaries via peformances throughout the US. They also have reached out to perform in China. Later in the year, the program will return to Asia, as well as embark on a European tour. The organization holds a series in Philidelphia and performs with other presenters in the surrounding region. With the PCMF, Framil creates free performances in order to expose as many people as he can to the art form—only one performance will require admission.  

“[PCMF co-founder Farley] and I [met through] a few cello workshops in Virginia, Georgia and Pennsylvania,” Framil says. “This led to an invitation to perform a cello recital at the Kenan Chapel in Landfall, as well as [an opportunity to produce] a cello workshop in Wilminagton. [It] ultimately led to a pilot music festival in 2009.” 

Framil’s musical history has stretched across the globe. He has performed as a concert soloist, a chamber musician and a conductor. He distinguishes himself as the first American cellist to entertain in Hanoi since the Vietnam War. As well, Framil has played at legendary music halls such as Carnegie Hall in New York, Hong Kong City Hall in China and the Volgograd Philharmonic Orchestra in Russia, to name a few.

The act of planning the festival comes as quite a feat. Framil must consider artistic continuity to ensure the pieces flow together seamlessly. He must pay attention to piece duration, the amount of rehearsal time needed for mastery,  and the skill sets of the artists with whom he collaborates. The undertaking of such a process can be quite time-consuming, and each aspect must perfectly meld. “[It’s] kind of like planning out a gourmet meal,” Framil describes.  

The seven artists Framil selected to compose Camerata, include three violinists: Luigi Mazzocchi, Danijela Zezelj-Gualdi, and Abigail Albaugh Van Steenhuyse. He also found violist, Carrie Jackson; clarinetist, John Laughton; pianist, Daniel Lau; and Mezzo-Soprano vocalist, Kyle Enger.  

“I have played with most of these artists for several years, and a couple of them have been performing in the festival for four or five years,” Framil explains. “These are artists with whom I share a similar musical ethos and speak the same musical language.” 

While many are returning musicians, some new names are performing this year, bringing a fresh flair to the festivities. Nearly all of the participating musicians have played around the world. Thier innate love for their craft makes Framil’s job as director enjoyable rather than taxing. The set list for the upcoming series features works by various greats, such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. There also are a wide variety of other modern composers and songs included, too. 

“Every piece is performed to perfection!” Framil exclaims. “Every rehearsal [or] performance iteration is different.”

Framil’s efforts have been augmented by the contributions of community sponsors and supporters, such as Janet Burkholder, Virginia Hardy, Anne Leister and Alane Savod—all members of the festival’s steering committee.“Being the director of the festival…is extremely fulfilling!” Framil elaborates. “This is all enhanced even more by the perspective of co-creating the festival, fostering and developing it, letting it grow naturally and responsibly, and allowing it to flourish.”

The Port City Music Festival started in 2009 as a summer concert music series and continues locally across supporting venues. All events are free to the public, with the exception of the festival fundraiser held at Barry and Janet Burkholder’s residence. Spaces for the event are limited, and tickets can be bought by calling Christine Farley at 512-6251. 


Port City Music Festival

Cameron Art Museum, 3201 S 17th St
Thursday, June 12th, 7:30 p.m. • Free
Beckwith Recital Hall, UNCW Campus
Friday, June 13th, 7:30 p.m. • Free
Festival Fundraiser
Barry & Janet Burkholder Residence
Saturday, June 14th, 6:30 p.m. • $50
First Presbyterian Church
125 S. Third St.
Sunday, June 15th, 5 p.m. • Free

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