Castleton adds Marsalis-led jazz academy session

Dietlinde Turban Maazel is festival’s new artistic director

The Castleton Festival announced this week that it has extended its season next summer to accommodate a two-week Jazz at Lincoln Center Summer Jazz Academy — its high school participants led by Jazz at Lincoln Center’s artistic and managing director, famed trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis.

Lorin Maazel, left, and Wynton Marsalis talked about their collaboration in an interview in January.
Lorin Maazel, left, and Wynton Marsalis talked about their collaboration in an interview in January. Courtesy of Jazz at Lincoln Center

Next year’s classical music and opera festival — which will run June 26 to July 19, with the jazz academy offering its public performances and “rigorous training . . . for 42 of the most advanced and dedicated high school jazz students” from July 19 to Aug. 3 — will also be the first under the direction of new artistic director Dietlinde Turban Maazel, widow of festival founder Lorin Maazel, who died July 13 at 84.

Dietlinde Maazel has served as co-artistic director with her husband for the festival’s first six years at the couple’s 550-acre estate-turned-music-academy in Castleton.

Marsalis and the Maazels had been discussing the idea of collaborating — and of bringing together their two disciplines at Castleton — since well before Lorin Maazel’s death. In a short video on the Jazz at Lincoln Center website, the two talked about the initiative in an interview recorded in New York in January.

Photo by Michelle Crider
Photo by Michelle Crider

“Jazz is an essential part of our culture and when I heard that Wynton Marsalis was also trying to change the lives of young people I was thrilled that Wynton would want to collaborate with me and have a summer program in our facilities starting in 2015,” says Maazel, who first conducted the then-19-year-old classical trumpeter Marsalis during Maazel’s 12-year tenure leading the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

“A blessing,” Marsalis says in the video, after Maazel has described the environment at Castleton for aspiring musicians and singers,  “for a young person to be immersed in that environment — and in nature.”

“Our strategy is for young people to feel as if they’re not wasting their time,” Maazel adds. “To feel guided, and to become part of something.” Marsalis glances at Maazel and, with a playful grin, says to the interviewer: “We will not waste your time.” Both men laugh.

“It has long been our vision for Castleton to evolve for the shared joy and benefit of young performers and Virginia’s arts community, so it is a special honor to share the Castleton spirit with young people focused on jazz through the work of Wynton Marsalis, an artist whom my husband regarded with such an admiration and affection,” said Dietlinde Maazel. “When we heard he was looking for a location for his summer program, we knew it had to be at Castleton.”

Tuition for the Marsalis-led Summer Jazz Academy at Castleton is $3,500; the Jazz at Lincoln Center website says audio videos are due Oct. 6. Castleton likely won’t announce its 2015 program until close to the end of this year; in 2014, participants in its Castleton Artists Training Seminars (CATS) paid $3,000 in tuition.

The Castleton Festival Theatre, one of two venues at Castleton Farms.
The Castleton Festival Theatre, one of two venues at Castleton Farms. Logan Mock-Bunting

Dietlinde Maazel, an award-winning actor, takes the reins in 2015 of an organization collectively stunned and saddened by the loss of her husband a week before the 2014 festival’s final performance — but subsequently humbled, she said, by an “outpouring of generosity and determination demonstrated by the festival’s artists, staff and supporters.”

In the end, 2014 turned out to be the festival’s most successful season; ticket sales increased 38 percent over 2013, with 12 sold-out performances. The opening night performances of “Madama Butterfly” and “Don Giovanni” were also live-streamed to 5,700 viewers around the world — a pilot effort that will expand in 2015.

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