Letter: ‘A star watches over us’

July 13, 2014: Rappahannock County and the world lost a great patron and benefactor.

We arrived at the Castleton Festival for a delightful afternoon of music and storytelling, and were stunned by the announcement of Maestro Lorin Maazel’s passing. Our breath was taken. The performance would be given in his honor, and the house reverberated with applause as the empty podium was illuminated.

Lorin and Dietlinde Maazel came to Rappahannock over 25 years ago. Driving up to their soon-to-be 19th century Rappahannock home, Lorin remarked, “Oh, look at this,” and a star settled over Rappahannock County. Soon their intimate performance and recording theatre became a reality.

Rappahannock residents were treated to a fabulous array of artistic talent: Mstislav Rostropovich, Yefim Bronfman, Claire Bloom, the Cashore Marionettes, Dietlinde Turban and yes, the Maestro himself graced the stage with his Stradivarius. There were so many more.

In recent years came the Castleton Festival, dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of the arts through mentoring of young musicians, singers and conductors. The Maazels offered and Rappahannock’s citizens followed by inviting students to live in their homes during weeks of rehearsals and a month of outstanding performances, a testament to the strength of this wonderful program and the cohesiveness of our community.

The music of the day was fitting, chosen months before by Maestro Maazel as a celebration of youth. “Peter and the Wolf” was followed by the Maazel’s 2014 Young Composer’s Forum winner Michael-Thomas Fourmai’s two-movement piece about creation of a new universe. Exhilaratingly conducted by Vlad Vizireanu, a young man with a great future, this work allowed every member of the symphony to shine, a truly fitting and exciting piece for promotion of youth in music.

The final pieces were written by Maazel to accompany readings of two children’s classics — “The Empty Pot” and “The Giving Tree,” with a finale of “Vapours and Capers” by Maazel, incorporating a clever Scottish tale featuring the delightful Sir James Galway on flute.

It was all a beautiful celebration of the life of Maestro Lorin Maazel and his dedication to youth through the Castleton Festival — a legacy we look forward to for many years to come, for a star watches over us.

Rick Kohler

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