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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: August 5, 2016

Salt Bay Chamberfest ‘rejuvenates the art form’

Written by: Bob Keyes
Wilhelmina Smith, founder of Salt Bay Chamber fest Photo by Joe Zizzo, courtesy of Wilhelmina Smith

Wilhelmina Smith, founder of Salt Bay Chamber fest
Photo by Joe Zizzo, courtesy of Wilhelmina Smith

Music lovers on the midcoast can hear an all-strings concert at the Salt Bay Chamberfest on Friday, featuring music by Brahms and Haydn and a world premiere by contemporary composer Marc Neikrug, a colleague of festival founder Wilhelmina Smith.

Smith commissioned Neikrug to write the one-movement “Ruminations” for a string trio to affirm the festival’s long-standing commitment to new music.

“When I started this festival, new music and old music were much more segregated, if you will,” Smith said. “I am a deep lover of all music, and I am just as much an advocate of Brahms and Haydn as I am of Marc. It is my desire to find a way that audiences could come to love new music as much as they love new works of art or new movies or any other art form.”

Salt Bay is in its 22nd season. The concerts are held in Darrows Barn, a converted cow barn near the edge of the water at Round Top Farm. The 19th-century barn helps people relax, Smith said.

“It turns out to have perfect acoustics for chamber music,” he said. “There’s an informality and intimacy that are huge parts of our success.”

Audiences mingle with the musicians beforehand and share cookies with them afterward.

The festival begins this week and continues through Aug. 19.

Smith lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, but has Maine roots. Her grandparents were from Damariscotta, and her mother is a Portland native living in Walpole. Her father is from Vermont.

“Maine has always been my spiritual home,” she said. “The landscape and the area play such an important part of nurturing the soul of any artist. That’s why you find so many visual artists in Maine. Most musicians live in cities, because that’s where the work is. Coming up to this beautiful, beautiful area is a chance to rejuvenate ourselves and our art form.”

Salt Bay Chamberfest

WHEN: Through Aug. 19, with concerts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tuesday and Aug. 19
WHERE: Darrows Barn, Round Top Farm, Damariscotta
TICKETS & INFO: $30, $5 students;

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