Music on the Hill: 10 years of quality chamber music

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Gerard and Carol Pellegrino have looked forward to June every year for the past 10 years.

Along with an active volunteer Board of Directors, led by Executive Director Emily Atkinson, the Warwick couple has been deeply involved in the multitude of details involved in presenting the yearly chamber music festival, Music on the Hill.

What began as a small concert series at St. Luke’s Church in East Greenwich has grown to a two-week festival, with concerts scheduled this year in Cranston, Warwick and Westerly.

Artistic Director John M. Pellegrino returns to his native Rhode Island, along with many local musicians who have joined orchestras and chamber ensembles across the United States. And they bring many of their friends with them.

Family, friends, and music lovers across the state gather at a variety of churches and concert sites to hear Beethoven, Vivaldi, Bach and other great composers performed by accomplished artists.

We have been attending these concerts for the past ten years, watching the talents and growth of the musicians, including Jerry and Carol’s daughter, Dr. Kristen Pellegrino, a Tollgate High School grad who is now an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

There is a strong Rhode Island College influence in the 10th Anniversary Festival, including Rhode Island native, Lori Phillips, RIC grad, who has enjoyed a successful career in both concert and opera.

Music on the Hill’s adventurous programs combine highlights of the chamber music repertoire with less familiar works by Vivaldi, Bach, and Beethoven.

Rhode Island’s own Judith Stillman will perform her critically acclaimed “Phoenix From the Ashes,” with soprano Lori Phillips on June 13 at 7 p.m. at Cranston’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 237 Garden Hills Dr.

If you love Baroque, you won’t want to miss fifteen instrumentalists joining forces on “Four Seasons” and Brandenburg Concerto #6, also at Immaculate Conception on Tuesday, June 6 at 7 p.m.

The festival opens on June 1 at 7 at St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church, 360 Cowesset Rd., with a “Bohemian Bash,” featuring music composed by Josef Suk.

A lawn concert has been added to the festival this year, to be held on the lawn of the Clouds Hill Victorian House Mansion, 4157 Post Rd. in Warwick on Sunday, June 4 at 4 p.m.

Concerts continue on June 5 at SS Rose and Clement Catholic Church on June 5, Immaculate Conception on June 6, St. Gregory the Great on June 8, Immaculate Conception on June 13, and the Festival Finale, featuring pianist Joseph Kalichstein on June 14 at the Dunn’s Corners Community Church, 221 Post Rd., Westerly. All concerts at 7 p.m.

Churches make wonderful venues for chamber music, with venues that were constructed to bring out the finest sounds of the instruments and voices.

Tickets are available on line at www.musiconthehill.org, at BrownPaperTickets.com, or at the door, where they can be purchased for $25, which is one terrific bargain. Students with I.D. are admitted free of charge.

The Music on the Hill program is a collector’s item, with a complete listing of musicians and synopses of every selection. You can check it out in advance by going on the website.

One addition that I’ve always enjoyed is the notation of the time of the piece performed.

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