Music festival brings harmony to Innsbrook

Posted 6/6/14

By Julie Conrey Record Staff Writer World-class pianist Carlos Avila, cellist Anne Richardson and violinist Xiaoxioa Qiang are within days of arriving in Warren County. They’ve been invited to a …

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Music festival brings harmony to Innsbrook

Record Staff Writer World-class pianist Carlos Avila, cellist Anne Richardson and violinist Xiaoxioa Qiang are within days of arriving in Warren County. They’ve been invited to a “working” holiday of sorts. The three are some of the teaching professionals at the Innsbrook Institute Summer Music Academy and Festival that takes place June 6 through June 14. The Innsbrook Institute incorporates professional musicians teaching students from around the country, and the musicians performing in music concerts during the evening that are open for everyone, said Innsbrook Institute Managing Director Linda Buschmann. The Innsbrook Institute has been around since 2001, said Buschmann. Bringing a music festival to Innsbrook was an idea kicked around in 2000 by Ed Boyce, founder of Innsbrook, his friend David Halen, concert master of the St. Louis Symphony and the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra, and former Innsbrook Corporation Marketing Director Ron James. Boyce had attended the Aspen Music Festival for years. He wanted talented music students from all over to come to a beautiful setting to learn from the best musicians and have the opportunity to perform. The three talked and dreamed. The following year the Innsbrook Institute took off. “It’s been going strong ever since,” Buschmann said. The Innsbrook Institute accommodates 25 students per year. It’s a competitive process to gain admission, Buschmann said. In March, students submit written applications, videos of performances and works they’re currently studying. Staff reviews the information and notifies students who have been chosen to attend the program by mid-April. Students pay $1,100 to attend the Innsbrook Institute, and scholarships are available, Buschmann said. Students typically range in age from 16 to 18 years old. This year a 12-year-old phenomen violin player is attending. “She’s been playing since she was 4,” Buschmann said. Although she couldn’t confirm it, Buschmann said she’s one of the youngest students to attend the institute. Nationally recognized musicians recruited by Halen teach and lecture students during the day. The musicians have dual jobs, Buschmann said. In addition to teaching they perform at night. Some of the musicians teaching and performing this year include Carlos Avila, Zlatomir Fung, Tzu-Yin Huang, Anne Richardson, Jeremy Berry and Jacob Braun. Jazz vocalist Brian Owens, from St. Louis, will perform with his band The Message twice on Friday, June 13, beginning at 7:30 p.m. “He does Marvin Gaye to Frank Sinatra to Nat King Cole,” Buschmann said. One of the unique features of the Innsbrook Institute is that students stay with host families, Buschmann said. The arrangement benefits both. “It allows students to experience Innsbrook in all of its beauty,” Buschmann said. They come from all over the country, and the host families pamper and love on them, plus cheer them on when it’s their turn to perform. Jim and Helga Douglass, Innsbrook residents who live on Alpine Lake, have hosted students since 2003. “It’s the highlight of our year. I could talk about it for hours,” Jim said. One of the more memorable moments the couple has had with students included a late night concert on the lake. “One of the students couldn’t get over all of the stars you could see at night,” Jim said. The Douglass family owns a boat, and took the young musicians in their care out on the lake. One decided to perform. The students find this setting unique, Jim said. “They’ve told us this is the only place in the country where they stay in someone’s home and are treated like family,” he added. With the exception of two years, Innsbrook residents Priscilla and John Welter have hosted students since they moved to the development in 2002. “We still had moving boxes around when one of the first students stayed here,” Priscilla said. “We both love all kinds of music but neither of us plays an instrument,” Priscilla said. “We learn much from the kids and we’re learning a lot more.” Host families fix breakfast for the students then transport them to their classes. Families and students don’t see each other again until the evening, Priscilla said. “This is a personal touch,” Jim said. “My wife makes them breakfast and has cookies waiting for them when they come back at night.” Interested in seeing a world-class musician perform up close? Ticket prices for the chamber music series, from June 6-14, range from $25 to $100 per concert. Guests 17 years old and younger are admitted free in general admission. No ticket is required. Seating is based on availability. Those wanting tickets should call 636-928-3366 ext. 218. Ticket sales have been brisk, Buschmann said. “One thing we’ve been trying to let people know is that the chamber concert series is for everyone. Patrons see these nationally recognized artists in their own backyard. This is a community event. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend,” Buschmann said. “I think it’s so important and a wonderful asset to Innsbrook,” Priscilla Welter said. “These kids are so talented and they love their music so much. It’s inspiring.” For complete information on the concert series, log on to

Pictured above are students who attended last year's Innsbrook Institute.