Select group studying with Manchester Music Festival

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MANCHESTER —Hundreds of applicants. Four continents and at least 14 countries' worth of performances. Thousands and thousands of hours of practice.

All for 17 slots.

Each year, seventeen young musicians, aged 18 to 26, are offered a spot at the Manchester Music Festival's Young Artists Program, where they receive daily instruction from world-famous musical masters for five weeks. Many had begun their musical careers by the age of 5 or 6; some have since been honing their craft for close to two decades. They have played all over the country and around the world, but all are excited at the prospect of learning from one another and from some of the best musicians in the world here in Manchester.

"I think that most musicians would agree that you can't ever reach a point where you feel you've stopped learning," said cellist Rajan Kapoor. "You learn all the time and in different ways, which is something I love about being a musician."

Kapoor, 24, began playing the violin at age 5 with his twin sister, but switched to the cello at age 8 "because it was big." Sixteen years later, he is co-founder and assistant director of an die Musik NYC, a non profit concert series that brings New Yorkers high-quality classical music at affordable rates, and wants to take his musical gift on the road to concert halls and universities.

Each musician has a different beginning to their story. Violinist Becca Kasdan, 22, wanted to be just like her mom; 24-year-old violinist Hee Yeon Kim grew up listening to her parents' classical music; and 22-year-old violist David Montreuil was just curious. But all have arrived at the same conclusion: like Kapoor, they want to dedicate their lives to learning, performing, and, eventually, teaching.

"I'd like to perform, I'd like to teach, and I'd like to inspire other people. Really I just want to share with people what I can do with music," Kim said. Though these artists are still young, events like the Manchester Music Festival allows them to start on the path towards a career in music. "Here you're a full time musician, it's all you do," Montreuil said. "You're living and playing with the same people all the time, so there's a different atmosphere. It's very intense; you learn so much more because you're so much more into it."

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"You get to have such a personal relationship with the other musicians," Kasdan agreed. "And unlike solo music where you're by yourself and orchestra where there's so many people you get lost, I feel like chamber [music] is such an intimate experience."

The young musicians are also unique in their passion for chamber music, performed only with small groups of pianists and string musicians.

"I love chamber music, and this is chamber music for four full weeks, so that's really exciting ... I like that it's really intensive. I'm already exhausted, but it's a lot of fun," said Kim, laughing. "I love the teamwork aspect. There's less pressure than if you're a soloist, and that helps me to be more creative and be more confident. You could view orchestras that way too, but you still get to have your own voice in chamber music ensembles. It's a good balance."

Kim's ability to express her musical voice is at the heart of her passion for music. "There are so many languages out there and words can describe a lot, but sometimes you can't really quite put a word to certain emotions that you feel, and I think music is probably the closest thing that you can get to describing those kinds of emotions and sharing them with others," she said.

Communication and expression were common themes in why each artist loves music. "[Music] is such a powerful mode of expression, and it's unlike anything you can ever experience. The amount of power and the way you're able to communicate with other people is unlike anything else," Kasdan said.

Kasdan, who has played in summer music festivals all over the East Coast and toured in Argentina, Austria, and Germany, is returning to the Manchester Music Festival for the second time this year. "I love working in community venues. Giving back to the community is a big focus for me," she said. "Also, the area is just so beautiful. It's a great place to spend the summer."

"Vermont is beautiful, the weather is nice, and it seems to be a stamping ground for the best musicians in America," said Kapoor, who was principal cellist for Burlington's Vermont Mozart Festival Orchestra last year. "It's really great to be back."

Lauren Adler is a summer resident of Manchester.


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