The show must go on — and it shall for the Castleton Festival

Castleton enters into partnership with Vanderbilt University

Ladies and gentlemen, the Castleton Festival is coming back to life.

The Festival and the innovative Blair School of Music at prestigious Vanderbilt University have entered into “an exploratory artistic and educational partnership.”

Festival fans can look forward to an initial stage of performances by Blair School faculty artists, along with anticipated interdisciplinary and holistic educational activities for young singers and instrumentalists under the guidance of some of the world’s leading artists.

The late Maestro Lorin Maazel founded the Castleton Festival in 2009. By C. Scott Willis via Castleton Festival

“In that regard, the Castleton Festival plans to enhance its engagement with Rappahannock and surrounding counties in performances and educational efforts for the youth in those communities,” says Ron Goodman, the newly appointed Chair of the Castleton Festival Board of Directors.

While the partnership had yet to be announced, the first concert under the new collaboration was held this month at the Theater House in Castleton.

“The concert was sensational and the response from the audience was heartwarming to the performers and thrilling for Castleton Festival supporters,” Goodman tells the Rappahannock News.

“Standing ovations at the Theatre House echoed the fresh energy that the Vanderbilt Chorale brought to Castleton,” praised Castleton Festival Co-Founder Dietlinde Turban Maazel.

“Vanderbilt engagements will celebrate Castleton’s 21st year of performances as the Festival will renew its mission to ‘nurture young talents, foster the arts and reclaim the human spirit,’” she tells this newspaper. “I am enthusiastically looking forward to rebuilding our educational programs and working with the community through this new partnership with Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music.”

It was during an interview with the News last summer that Turban Maazel, a celebrated German born actress who recently became an American citizen, acknowledged that she “needed a break” after losing her husband — famed maestro Lorin Maazel — more than three years ago.

“I didn’t have time for grieving,” she explained. “Sometimes you just have to take a step back, take a deep breath, press the reset button, and then start anew. And I think that’s happening.”

The reinvigorated Turban Maazel spoke that day of her strong desire to preserve the legacy of Castleton, founded in 1997 but struggling in the wake of Lorin’s death. For example, Castleton’s summer festival seasons of 2016 and 2017 were canceled for budgetary reasons.

“The challenge here, obviously, is if you lose the main sponsor, the big figure, and the founder all in one package, you can’t recover just like that,” Turban Maazel pointed out. “Even though a core of the board members are still very, very interested and wonderful people, they can’t lift it. . . . That means it needs a partner. It can’t be done in a rush. It has to be done right, with the right people and the right team.”

Now both the board and Turban Maazel, who lives in New York City and teaches acting at Rutgers University among other theatrical pursuits, are watching the Nashville-based Vanderbilt rise to the occasion. As the Castleton co-founder put it last summer, ‘The show must go on!”

According to its mission statement, the Blair School of Music serves as the focal point “for the study of music as a human endeavor and as a performing art. Music offers to all persons a medium for the expression of the human spirit. Accordingly, [Blair] addresses music through a broad array of academic, pedagogical, and performing activities.”

The school says “providing a forum for visiting artists, scholars, and composers of national stature” is one of its commitments.

In 2017, the Reuters news agency ranked Vanderbilt “the 10th most innovative university in the world.”

The Castleton Festival’s 2018 Board of Directors:

Dietlinde Maazel, Executive and Artistic Director

Ron Goodman, Chair

Paul Smith, Vice Chair

John Jacquemin, Treasurer

Alexia Morrison, Cheri Woodard, Co-Secretaries:

John R. Bourgeois

R. Augustus Edwards, III

Joyce El-Khoury

Leslie Maazel

Nina May

Jennifer Manly

Clifford Mumm

Anne Pallie

Hugh Smith

Barbara Wall

Christopher Wall

About John McCaslin 469 Articles
John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at