Vivace Music Festival brings world-class classical music to Wilmington

Wilmington has a music festival – great music performed at the highest level.

The Vivace music festival debuted on July 22 and continues through August 9 with concerts at the Wilson Center at Cape Fear Community College, St. James Episcopal Church and First Presbyterian Church.

Vivace (pronounced Vee-VAH-chey) is the second classical music series to come to Wilmington this summer.

The Port City Music Festival gave its 13th concert season in June, marking its exit from the pandemic. There is room for both as the appetite for classical and contemporary concert music is here.

It’s worth noting that Vivace co-founders John Holloway and Ludovica Punzi set out to create a destination festival with star power. Vivace is also a training ground for young musicians, many of whom have the talent but cannot afford to attend the big established festivals in Idyllwild, Interlochen or Tanglewood.

Solo violinist Hye-Jin Kim performs on August 7 at the Wilson Center as part of "The four Seasons," a music program by Astor Piazzolla and Antonio Vivaldi performed by the Vivace Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra.

The power of the stars is considerable and includes violinist Ani Kavafian of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, violinist Hye-Jin Kim, artistic advisor of the Ara Gregorian festival and pianists Alexander Kobrin (winner of the 2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition ), Dmitri Vorobiev, Arthur Greene and the artistic directors of Vivace, Marina Lomazov and Joseph Rackers.

Holloway, speaking by phone from Vivace’s headquarters overlooking the Cape Fear River at the Ballast Hotel, said the origins of the festival lay in Punzi’s hometown of Milan, Italy.

“(The festival) was conceptualized to be in Italy, but because of the pandemic we just had to have something in the United States,” Holloway said. “Here we felt we could present something with more confidence in the early stages of planning.”

“We have always wanted to have a home in the United States, in addition to being active all over the world. And so, in the fall, my partner Ludovica Punzi came to the United States. We have traveled to a handful of cities, a lot of them in the South East – Charleston, Savannah. We were in Atlanta and envisioned Miami. “

But the question remained, why Wilmington?

“To be completely honest, on our initial list of cities to travel to, Wilmington was not on that list,” Holloway said. “But we were sort of walking past. I knew a bit about that. I knew some great arts organizations that already exist here. So we stopped and the second we pulled up, we knew it was. was the perfect choice. And it is the perfect choice for many reasons. “

Holloway went on to quote, first, the location. The Wilson Center for its size, allowing a necessary social distance, but even more for its remarkable acoustics. Second, Wilmingtonians have won their hearts and minds.

“We have found people who are very hungry for good music. And if you want to have a successful summer music festival in a city, you have to have a city of people who love good music,” he said.

Support came directly from a group forming the nucleus of Vivace’s advisory board in Wilmington: Shelly DiLoreto and Anne Stohl of Stephenson-Stohl Suzuki Studio, Liz Scanlon of the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra, Shane Fernando of the Wilson Center, Adrian Varnam of Ronald Sachs Violins, and Erin Wallace of the Ballast Hotel.

Building a destination festival needs the support of city government and arts organizations within and outside academia. Holloway was quick to congratulate Rhonda Bellamy of the Wilmington and New Hanover County Council for the Arts, WHQR Public Media and members of Wilmington City Council. Logistical support came from the University of East Carolina School of Music and Brent Trubia of Cape Fear Piano Shop.

Money is a challenge. For now, Vivace’s funding model relies on substantial private donations and tuition fees from students able to pay.

“This music is worth paying for and they know it,” Holloway said. “For students who are not able, there is, as I mentioned, a rigorous financial aid process. It gives the tools to apply and receive to those who need help to attend.”

Holloway said he welcomes the expansion of support, but admitted that classical music festivals are a tough sell to corporate sponsors. Ultimately, he said, establishing Vivace is about building relationships in the community.

“This year it was about Vivace coming to Wilmington and doing something big for the city,” he said. “In the future, it will be about this partnership between the city and Vivace that makes possible our ultimate plans, which is to continue to build and grow, to present more concerts, to reach more young students, to aspiring concert performers, and just to immerse the city in music. The music we all love. “

Coming to Vivace Music Festival

Cellist and movement artist Seth Parker Woods gives an audiovisual performance for the Vivace Music Festival on August 4 at CFCC The Wilson Center.

August 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the Wilson Center, 703 N. Third St.: Audiovisual performance by cellist and movement artist Seth Parker Woods. $ 21.38 – $ 34.60

August 6 2 pm at St. James Episcopal Church, 25 S. Third St.: Miriam Fried conducts a lecture on the music of JS Bach for solo violin. In the first part, Ms. Fried shares her knowledge of sonatas and partitas. In the second, the selected participants will perform in a masterclass. $ 28.

August 6 at 7:30 pm at St. James Episcopal, 25 S. Third St.: A full concert featuring participating students from Vivace. Program to be confirmed. Free.

August 7 at 1:00 pm at St. James Episcopal, 25 S. Third St.: A concert by some of the participating students of the festival. Program to be confirmed. Free

August 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Wilson Center, 703 N. Third St.: “The Four Seasons“, A music program by Astor Piazzolla and Antonio Vivaldi performed by the Vivace Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra with solo violins Jennifer Frautschi and Hye-Jin Kim. Tickets $ 21.38 – $ 34.60

August 9 at 1:00 p.m. at St. James Episcopal, 25 S. 3rd St.: The last free concert of the participating students of the festival. Program to be confirmed.

August 9 at 7:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 125 S. Third St.: “So Sublime” – Festival Vivace finale will include Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suite No. 6 and Quintet in C major for two violins, viola by Franz Schubert, and Two Cellos, D. 956, Op. 163.

Virtual participation is offered for all paid events. Details on

Contact StarNews Arts & Entertainment at 910-343-2343.

About Elaine Morales

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