Arts and Entertainment

Penn's Woods Music Festival returns to its roots for the summer

Performances relocated to Eisenhower Auditorium while new recital hall is under construction

The Penn's Woods Music Festival kicks off June 13 with the free "Music in the Gardens" concert at the Arboretum at Penn State, with the festival orchestra and chamber music concerts taking place June 23–30 in Eisenhower Auditorium. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn’s Woods Music Festival orchestra and chamber music performances will be relocated to their original home of Eisenhower Auditorium this summer while the Penn State School of Music’s new recital hall is under construction. The festival kicks off June 13 with the free Music in the Gardens concert at the Arboretum at Penn State, with the festival orchestra and chamber music concerts taking place June 23–30.

The festival was previously held in Eisenhower during the 1990s. When it was reinstated in 2008, Esber Recital Hall became the festival’s home. This year’s repertoire, selected by Maestro Gerardo Edelstein, includes pieces that the festival played more than a decade ago as a tribute to its early days.

Highlighting the orchestral programs on June 23 and 30 are “Symphony No. 7” by Beethoven and “New World Symphony” by Antonin Dvorak, respectively. Concert-goers will not only be treated to two symphonies but also will enjoy popular works like Debussy’s “Afternoon of a Faun,” and Shostakovich’s “Second Piano Concerto” with the British-born, award-winning pianist Philip Edward Fisher. The program also celebrates the centennial anniversary of Leonard Bernstein and American composer Aaron Copland.

The festival’s Wednesday night concerts on June 20 and 27 will feature more robust works to appropriately fit in Eisenhower. Mozart’s “Don Giovanni for Winds” tells the famous opera’s story in an abbreviated form using the opera’s familiar melodies. The beloved Brahms “Piano Trio No. 2” will feature festival favorites James Lyon, violin; Elizabeth Lyon, cello; and Timothy Shafer, piano. Penn State faculty members Max Zorin, violin, and Christopher Guzman, piano, will perform “Carmen Fantasy for Violin and Piano” by Sarasate, which combines all the popular themes from Bizet’s opera “Carmen.”

The Music in the Gardens concert will feature the Billtown Brass of the Williamsport Symphony on the main lawn. The brass band, with a little percussion, too, will perform music by Gershwin and Sousa. This ensemble regularly performs throughout the Northeast and is conducted by Rick Coulter.

For complete festival information, including how to purchase tickets, please visit the website at Penn’s Woods Music Festival is presented by the Penn State School of Music, College of Arts and Architecture, The Arboretum at Penn State, Central Pennsylvania Visitors and Convention Bureau, and supported by generous funding from festival donors.

Free parking in Eisenhower Deck for patrons is provided by realtor Beth Richards.


Music in the Gardens — Wednesday, June 13, 6:30 p.m. to dusk (rain date June 14)

  • Penn’s Woods musicians and the Billtown Brass perform in The Arboretum at Penn State (free admission)

Festival Musicians — Wednesday, June 20, 7:30 p.m., Eisenhower Auditorium

  • BRUCH - Eight Pieces for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano, Op. 83
  • MOZART - Don Giovanni for Winds
  • BRAHMS - Trio No. 2 in C Major for Violin, Cello, and Piano, Op. 87

Festival Orchestra Concert (pre-concert talk at 6:30 p.m.) — Saturday, June 23, 7:30 p.m., Eisenhower Auditorium

  • DEBUSSY - Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
  • SHOSTAKOVICH - Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op. 102
  • Philip Edward Fisher, pianist
  • BEETHOVEN - Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

Festival Musicians — Wednesday, June 27, 7:30 p.m., Eisenhower Auditorium

  • HEINICHEN - Sonata in B-Flat Major, S. 257
  • SHOSTAKOVICH - Five Pieces for Two Violins and Piano
  • SARASATE - Carmen Fantasie for Violin and Piano, Op. 25
  • HUMMEL - Septet No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 74

Festival Orchestra Concert (pre-concert talk at 6:30 p.m.) — Saturday, June 30, 7:30 p.m., Eisenhower Auditorium

  • BERNSTEIN - Three Dance Episodes from “On the Town” (1945)
  • COPLAND - Appalachian Spring Suite
  • DVORÁK - Symphony No. 9 in E minor, "From the New World"
Last Updated May 23, 2018