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Held on the grounds of Music Mountain, the oldest continuous chamber music festival in the country, the Next Festival of Emerging Artists is an immersion experience for talented string players on the cusp of great careers. Combining intense musical study and performance at the highest level, the festival brings together young artists, aged 20-30, from the best music schools and conservatories in the country to work in a highly individualized and inspirational atmosphere. Our 2016 season marked the introduction of our Composer Workshop, led by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis, connecting composers and performers in a unique collaboration, resulting in the creation of new works.

The Next Festival is deeply committed to helping the artists of tomorrow progress to the next step in their careers and to forge their own unique musical identities. Generous scholarships enable students to attend, regardless of financial circumstances.

Conductor/composer/educator Peter Askim (Conductor, Raleigh Civic Symphony and Chamber Orchestra; Former Music Director, Composer-in-Residence, Idyllwild Arts) works closely with the students to tailor a program focused on their individual goals, and a spirit of imagination and exploration is cultivated.

The Next Festival emphasizes Contemporary Music  and entrepreneurial thinking in imagining a career in today’s musical landscape, culminating in an orchestral performance of 20th-Century works and the music of our time. The 2015 season marked the Festival’s New York debut at the prestigious (le)poisson rouge, in a program of all living composers. The concert was recorded by WQXR/Q2 and featured on the program New York Now.

Each year the festival features Guest Artists who are making major contributions to the contemporary repertoire and who have fashioned their own unique approaches to their careers. The Guest Artists serve as examples of non-traditional career paths and perform alongside the Festival musicians. Past Guest Artists included Matt Haimovitz, ETHEL and Jeffrey Zeigler (former cellist, Kronos Quartet). The 2016 festival featured Peabody Award-winning violist Nadia Sirota (yMusic, host of Q2’s Meet the Composer) and guitar legend Richard Thompson.

Read what festival alumni have to say their experiences at the Festival.