VC INTERVIEW | VC Artist Rolston String Quartet Gives Their Expert Advice for Young Ensembles

The Violin Channel had the chance to catch up with VC Artist Rolston String Quartet, to get their perspective on what it takes to be a successful string quartet.

This summer, after concerts at Canada’s Elora Festival, they will perform a riveting program at An Appalachian Summer Festival on July 26. Tickets can be found here.

What are your most significant words of wisdom for up-and-coming chamber groups hoping to build a thriving career?
-Agree upon a vision for the future of the ensemble.
Being a musician/artist means constantly searching for what can be done better. Make sure you are all on the same page about your commitment to that search and the philosophies that drive it.

-Build a social media presence as soon as possible.

-When you hit a few bumps in the road, figure out how to navigate them in a constructive way. Rather than get discouraged, look at the challenges as a springboard for the group’s development. Keep a clear head and see everything as an opportunity.

What are your favorite parts of traveling together? Any tips for groups that are embarking on their first tour?
Exploring different food scenes is a fun perk for us! When you first start to travel in a group, it’s easy to choose rehearsing over exploring a new place. Of course, it’s important to sound good, always. But what’s also important is creating memories other than rehearsals and concerts. The amazing meal you had together or the beautiful gallery you all saw will be the things that stick in your head. Creating experiences makes the tour feel a little more alive.

How important do you think winning competitions is in regards to a quartet’s success?
We think it’s very important. Regardless of the success, you grow as a group. Entering a competition forces you to craft an identity as a group, one that is so crystal clear. You want a jury or audience member to walk away and say, “I understand what that quartet was about. I understand their unique take on music.” You also get exposed to audiences and presenters, and it’s always good to just put yourself out there.

When you’re preparing for a competition, you’re super “in shape” musically. Your ears are at an all-time high, as you come in contact with many other groups who have also pushed themselves to the brink. It forces you to constantly evaluate yourselves.

Although it’s not a natural situation of any sort, it’s beautiful to hear all these different people playing things they’ve prepared. They’ve gone through a similar scenario and it forces everyone to go through a state of hypergrowth.

Would you say it is a similar situation at a summer festival?
It’s a similar place where you can get a lot of work done. At a summer festival, you spend quite a lot of time together and really hone what you’re about. Competitions and festivals are similar in that they are goal driven, but with festivals, there is a little less pressure and competitive spirit. You can set goals and enjoy yourself at the same time.

This will be your first time at An Appalachian Summer Festival. How do you go about choosing a program for a summer festival such as this one?
Firstly, we pick music we like. We are currently working through all of Hayden’s Op. 33 String Quartets. At this concert on the 26th, we chose to play No. 2 and 4. From there, we tried to pick music that fits with those two works.

Often we’ll choose pieces that are structurally similar. All of the pieces on the Appalachian program seem to sprout from a seed. Each piece has a central, unifying motif that the entire piece sprouts out of. The A. R. Thomas and Beethoven employ a really crafted, structural approach to compositions, almost architectural. We think great composers populate their music with a lot of details and a sense of realism, but they’re all in the same framework of physics. There is a sense of verisimilitude. When we work on pieces like these, it makes our rehearsal process really joyous.

You’ve included a piece by living female composer Augusta Read Thomas. Can you tell us about that piece and how you found it?
August Read Thomas is a good friend of ours! She composed this piece for our quartet a few years ago. It is a musical depiction of the mosaics by award-winning mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. It’s a really good distillation of what we like to do as a quartet, which is very crafted phrasing. She creates these cells and, just like a mosaic, puts them together like puzzle pieces between the different voices of the quartet. It starts out super fragmented, but by the time you get to the second movement, it becomes somewhat like a fanfare.

It was being written during the pandemic, so when we did collaborate with her on the piece, it was over Zoom. She made some adjustments based on our playing, but for the most part, her first draft didn’t need many changes.

When we talked with her about her compositional process, she said that she used other art forms. She dances to her music, paints it, etc.

How important do you think it is for a younger quartet to be working with living composers?
We think it’s really vital. There are so many different ways that music can sound and composers really have such a wide range of possibilities right now in terms of like the type of music that they’re writing. So when you work with a lot of composers, you learn a lot of the different ways that music can exist.

Also, you learn the certain musical language of the composer and each one teaches you something different about your instrument, or about the way phases can put together, notes combined, intervals used, etc.

Then, you can apply this new knowledge to your readings of Beethoven or Brahms or Haydn. You can use what you’re learning from the contemporary composers to better understand the older ones. As a musician, it can be a meaningful interaction to go between these eras, yet understanding that the music is crafted from the same basic tools.

Additionally, it is keeping the tradition alive of working with composers. Composers like Beethoven and Brahms would work with the violinists and musicians of their time. By interacting with composers of our day, we are creating the artistic language of the time we live in.

It’s the same as any great art form. The composers that are alive today are part of a tradition of composition that takes place over centuries. We’re lucky to be living in a time where we can look at very, very old and then very new music, and then find commonalities/differences.

You recently released your debut album “Souvenirs.” Any “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for up-and-coming ensembles getting ready to record their first album?
-Find a good recording engineer!

-Sometimes, you can get bogged down during a session, so find ways to keep things fresh.

-Listen back to the recording that you just made while you’re still in the studio so you have time to make changes if you want. For example, if you hate how the mics are set up, it’s better to know and change it right then, rather than have the CD come out and realize it later.

-Be very involved with the editing process. In a lot of recording studio situations, you can get self-conscious and nervous about doing everything right. But don’t worry too much, because lots can be edited.

-Once again, it comes down to having a shared vision with your quartet-mates. Recording music that means a lot to you as a group is important. Just have fun with it!

What is your social media strategy? It seems like you try to balance the serious things with more fun posts!
One of us runs the social media accounts, but it is definitely a collaborative process. Anybody can post whatever as long as everyone else is okay with it. And usually, we know what the others will and won’t be okay with posting.

In general, social media is a great way to engage with people even if they’re far away. We try to mix up the content for our followers and post stuff that we’d enjoy seeing on our own feeds.

What’s one of your best memories together?
Our recent tour to Germany was a lot of fun. It was seven concerts in about ten days. After not traveling as much due to COVID-19, it meant a lot to us to be able to spend a substantial amount of time on the road. Also, it was right after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and we were meeting some Ukrainian refugees that had made their way to Germany. We included a Ukrainian hymn in the program and it made the whole experience a lot more personal and real. Some of the refugees we met were actually living in the same hotel that we were briefly staying at.

Being able to play music amidst the atrocity of the current situation made us realize the power of music and the distillation of what music is capable of. For the refugees attending the concerts, we hope they got something positive out of it.

To check out the Rolston String Quartet’s upcoming engagements, click here.

Broadway Star and Tony Award Winner Renée Elise Goldsberry to Perform in Boone

The Mountain Times
by Derek Halsey

BOONE — By all measures, due to hard work, perseverance and an opportunity that popped up at just the right time, actress and singer Renée Elise Goldsberry has made it in the worlds of stage and screen.

For many entertainers, especially on Broadway, you are lucky if you are associated with one hit show during your career, as that well-earned notoriety can carry you throughout your performing life. In the case of Goldsberry, however, she has virtually run the table in recent years with appearances in multiple hit shows.

Goldsberry performed in the original Broadway run of “The Color Purple,” she inhabited the role of Nala in the hit Disney production of “The Lion King,” and she portrayed the character Mimi in the very popular show called “Rent,” which ran on Broadway for over a decade.

Goldsberry is perhaps best known, however, for her original cast role as Angelica Schuyler in the enormous Broadway success known as “Hamilton.”

While the shows “The Color Purple, “The Lion King” and “Rent” all have their passionate followers “Hamilton” became a modern-day theater phenomenon. Goldsberry’s performance in the musical resulted in a Tony Award, a Grammy Award for the soundtrack, a Drama Desk award and the Lucille Lortel Award.

On Saturday, July 16, Goldsberry is following up on all of that success by presenting her own show at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m. A presentation by the App Summer Series, tickets range from $50 for adults to $25 for students. More information can be found at

There are thousands of actors and actresses who seek out a career in the theater after attending a school for the creative arts, after building up a reputation in Summer Stock productions or after graduating with a degree in Theatre Studies at a university. That makes the theater world and the movie, TV and music industries very competitive.

As for Goldsberry, she first headed to California to make her mark in the entertainment business yet almost gave up on her dreams as time went on.

“I grew up in Houston, Texas, and I love the South,” said Goldsberry. “I have been auditioning for musicals since I was eight years old and I just really fell in love with it as a child. Later on, when I was older, I was living in Los Angeles where I had a lot of singing and acting jobs. I did pretty much anything that I thought could move me forward and that felt honest and was something I could tell my parents about. I did a show called Ally McBeal on television and I was in a movie called “All About You” in 2001. I also had a band and I sang and wrote songs. So, I did the same things that I do now, just at a different level. On “Ally McBeal,” I sang backup on that show so I was in close proximity to a lot of very talented people who were blowing up with stardom, and it was wonderful to watch them navigate through the world of entertainment, and it was very helpful when it came to my own career, even now.”

Goldsberry’s shot at fame almost didn’t happen, however, until fate stepped in. A phone call changed everything and soon she was traveling 2,700 miles from LA to New York City.

“The folks with ‘The Lion King’ had auditioned me a few times in Los Angeles and as soon as I got engaged and was ready to pack it up and be a wife, I got a call asking me to star on Broadway in New York City,” said Goldsberry. “That is what brought me here almost 20 years ago, and I’m still here. Right before that call happened, I was able to cobble together enough money to pay my rent just by singing and acting in LA. It was a bit of a challenge at times, but I was able to do it by the grace of God. I did gigs in clubs and did small parts in TV shows. I also sang backup for other artists and I would record music for the Disney theme parks. I did an assortment of things.”

Goldsberry is a firm believer in being prepared and perfecting your craft at all times so you will be ready in case that big opportunity knocks on your door.

Once Goldsberry was performing in “The Lion King” her talent showed through. “Rent’ and “The Color Purple” followed and she was on her way. When the musical “Hamilton” blew up, however, the response was overwhelming as the show changed Broadway in a lot of ways.

“People talk about those other plays all of the time, but ‘Hamilton’ definitely got the most attention,” said Goldsberry. “But, for sure, ‘The Lion King’ isn’t going anywhere because you have to bring your kids to see ‘The Lion King.’ It is timeless and it’s universal and there is always going to be new kids and they are always going to want to go see it. What happened with ‘Hamilton’ is that new generations of people will also embrace it in the same way people do today. When you tell people what ‘Hamilton’ is, as in a show about Alexander Hamilton who is a person that a lot of people have never heard of who don’t know their history, and that the story is going to be told by this assortment of people with a lot of different kinds of music with the main one being rap music; I don’t think anybody was thinking it was going to work. The beauty is that it shocked us all.”

Work it did as “Hamilton” created by Lin-Manel Miranda, is still as popular as ever. At the outset, while Goldsberry was a bit unsure about “Hamilton,” she remembered seeing Miranda’s previous play In “The Heights” and realized how brilliant both the play and Miranda would be and jumped onboard with this new, unique and counter-intuitive musical.

The cool thing about winning multiple awards and being in multiple hit musicals as Goldsberry has done is being able to do what she is about to do in the Schaefer Center in Boone on Saturday, and that is create a show based on her own creativity.

“Being in ‘Hamilton’ has given me the opportunity to travel the country with the best band I have ever had in my life,” said Goldsberry. “It is daunting to venture into this space as just myself when I have played so many characters that have been larger than life. But when you come to see my show, my goal is to bond with the audience as myself and it has been a joy to do. The first half of the show will be songs that you know and love that has nothing to do with my career. I do a lot of soulful music and inspirational music, pop and classic songs that people love and that feel really good. We do the best of the best of many genres of music, and then in the second half, we find ourselves right at home in the end with music from ‘The Lion King,’ ‘Rent’ and ‘Hamilton,’ singing the songs that people came to hear. By the time we’re done, we will all feel like family.”

Jazz great Esperanza Spalding brings Grammy Award-Winning musical explorations to Boone
By Derek Halsey

BOONE — Esperanza Spalding is an acclaimed musician who tries to incorporate the world around her, and the experiences that surround all of us on this small planet, into her music.


Known as a jazz artist — an important genre that explores the possibility of music in some of its highest forms yet amazingly ranks the lowest when it comes to popularity these days — Spalding began as a classical musician in her home of Portland, Oregon.


Motivated by seeing the great cellist Yo Yo Ma perform and converse on the infamous children’s TV show “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood” as a kid, Spalding knew what her path would be at an early age. As a teenager, her obvious talent and growing abilities would lead to scholarships at schools such as The Northwest Academy and the Berklee College of Music located across the country in Boston. Mentored and encouraged by jazz legends and Berklee instructors Pat Metheny and Gary Burton, Spalding also cultivated her impressive multi-octave singing voice while expanding her bass playing style.


When Spalding graduated from Berklee in 2005, she was asked to be an instructor at the school. By 2011, with three albums under belt, she won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist, an honor usually reserved for pop artists.


As time went by, Spalding’s artistic curve showed no signs of veering into stereotypical repetitiveness. Even now, boxing her talent into the confines of the jazz genre does not tell the full story. She continues to combine other kinds of music into her compositions, singing and playing as well as the sounds of the earth mixed with a spiritual essence that keeps her unique grooves fresh and flowing.


Spalding’s latest album is called the ‘Songwrights Apothecary Lab,’ which is officially described as, “Half songwrighting workshop, and half guided-research practice, the Songwrights’ Apothecary Lab seeks to develop a structure for the collaborative development of new compositions designed to offer enhanced salutary benefit to listeners.”


Recorded in three locations and divided into 13 compositions each known as a “Formwela” with the added numbers 1 through 13 attached to the constant title; each song on the album is accompanied by a highly-creative video, which you can view on Youtube here —


Spalding’s ““Songwrights Apothecary Lab”” album won the Grammy Award several months ago for Best Jazz Vocals.


Esperanza Spalding will perform at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts this Saturday, July 9, as a part of Appalachian State University’s Summer Series. The concert begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are $45 for adults and $25 for students. The Schaefer Center is located at 733 Rivers Street in Boone.


Joining Spalding onstage will be Matthew Stevens on guitar, Morgan Guerin on sax, keyboards and bass, and Eric Doob on drums along with Sasha Ishmel-Muhammad on vocals and Vuyolwethu Sotashe on vocals.


Along with the musicians, Spalding has incorporated dance into her live show that will feature choreographer/dancer Antonia Brown along with dancers Kaylin Horgan, Christiana Hunte and Tashae Udo. All of the performers will be working with wardrobe designer Marion Talan De La Rosa, lighting designer Kate McGee and sound engineer Fernando Lodeiro.


The previously-mentioned idea of Spalding bringing the essence of her natural surroundings into her music is something that purposely appears on her new ““Songwrights Apothecary Lab”” project.


The first three cuts were composed and expounded upon while Spalding and fellow artists spent time in Wasco County, Oregon, which is west of Portland and south of the Yakama Indian Reservation. Spalding and collaborator Corey King combined to create music in Portland, Oregon, and for the final six cuts, she went east to Lower Manhattan and New York City where she combined her creative forces with those of Leonardo Genovese, Francisco Mela, Matthew Stevens, Aaron Burnett, Grant Jones, Nivi Ravi, Ganavya Doraiswamy, Britton Howard, Marisol Norris, Héloïse Darcq, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and The Clemente Soto.


“I’m sure (outside natural influences) are always happening, whether or not we intend for them to, because the place that we are in informs the way that we play and what we hear and compose,” said Spalding. “When we were in each location of the “Songwrights Apothecary Lab”, we were very much incorporating the sensation of being in each locale into the song. It was one of the guiding principles of the Apothecary quilt; that we really want the place, the people in the place and the atmosphere of the place to inform the music and to be legible through the music. We clarify where each piece was created (in the liner notes found at partially to augment the connection with the place and partially hoping that people can tune into the atmosphere of that place and hear how that is resonating in the music that we created there.”


At this point, Spalding’s recordings all seem to be what some refer to as “concept albums,” in that the musical pieces enclosed are cohesive, connected, and more than just a collection of individual, stand-alone songs grouped together to form an album.


“I’ve never used the phrase ‘concept album’ before, but I guess to me every album is a concept album because it has a title and it does have an intention, even if the album is based on snippets that we wrote over the last however-long period of time,” said Spalding. “In my case, and in our case, these albums are a record of what we are interested in at the time. But, you have to organize the information in some kind of way, so the shape they take is of an album. Albums, however, are a very arbitrary format, with 12 songs on it. It is just what we have at the moment. If there was another format available to offer a portrait of what we are working on, I would use it. I wish there was another format that was funded or supported or distributed the way that albums are, but there isn’t one yet. So, albums are the format that I have to use. It will be cool when another, maybe more-multi-sensory format becomes available.”


Spalding, with her appreciation of nature always in the mix, is thrilled when told that these western North Carolina Mountains are the highest east of the Rocky Mountains. While she has been to Asheville before, Spalding has never been to Boone. Thankfully, Spalding will get to spend more than one day here in the High Country as along with her concert at the Schaefer Center on Saturday, she will also be spending some time with the students in the Hayes School of Music at our own Appalachian State University. Whether her spare time enables a visit to Linville Gorge or the top of Elk Knob Mountain is unknown.


“Oh cool. I didn’t know that,” said Spalding, when told of the uniqueness of these Blue Ridge Mountains. “I’ve been to Asheville, of course, but I haven’t been to that region before. I love the mountains. I love that I am coming to those mountains. And, this concert in Boone will be the first performance for this particular exploratory project, so that is really special. We are also actually going to be there for a few days with the university, so I am excited about it.”


More information can be found at and

An Appalachian Summer Festival Announces 2022 Season

Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, Renée Elise Goldsberry, esperanza spalding, Postmodern Jukebox, Boz Scaggs, and more! 

BOONE, NC— Appalachian State University’s annual summer arts event, An Appalachian Summer Festival (AASF), proudly celebrates its 38th season July 1-30, 2022. This monthlong whirlwind features the best in music, dance, theatre, visual arts, and film programming and is one of the nation’s leading regional arts festivals, attracting an audience of 28,000, including thousands of visitors to the High Country each summer. Tickets go on sale Monday, May 2 at 10am. To purchase tickets or for more information, including videos and images, visit or call the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts box office at 828-262-4046.

An Appalachian Summer Festival 2022 Schedule 


Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives (July 3, State Farm Road Concert Lot, 7:30pm)
Outdoor concert and fireworks, in collaboration with the Town of Boone

With legends like George Jones, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard all passed on, country music purists often echo the question Jones himself asked: “Who’s going to fill their shoes?” The answer, in part, is Marty Stuart. The Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and musician is living, breathing country-music history. He’s played alongside the masters, from Cash to Lester Flatt, and continues to record and release keenly relevant music that honors country’s rich legacy while advancing it into the future.

3-7pm — family-friendly music, games, inflatables, food, and more at The Boone Greenway
6pm — concert gates open to the general public (bring your own chairs)
(Approx. 9:15pm) — Fireworks to immediately follow the concert

 esperanza spalding in Concert (July 9, Schaefer Center, 8pm)
Join five-time Grammy winner esperanza spalding — American jazz bassist, singer, songwriter, and composer — for an unforgettable night of musical exploration. spalding took home her fifth career Grammy at this year’s 64th Annual Grammy Awards on April 3, 2022, winning Best Jazz Vocal Album for her eighth studio album, Songwrights Apothecary Lab.

Renée Elise Goldsberry (July 16, Schaefer Center, 8pm)
Stage and screen star Renée Elise Goldsberry is perhaps best known for her role as Angelica Schuyler in the Broadway musical phenomenon Hamilton, which earned her Tony, Grammy, Drama Desk, and Lucille Lortel awards. In July 2021, she was nominated for an Emmy Award for the Disney+ film adaptation. Renée also starred on Broadway in The Color Purple, The Lion King (Nala), and RENT (Mimi), was a regular in the popular soap opera One Life to Live (she won two Daytime Emmys), and is currently on Tina Fey’s Peacock network hit musical comedy, Girls5eva. Renée’s set will cover music from Hamilton, RENT, The Lion King, The Color Purple, other Broadway numbers, and a tribute to the great Aretha Franklin.

Postmodern Jukebox: The Grand Reopening Tour (July 23, Schaefer Center, 8pm)
Pop-jazz collective Postmodern Jukebox — the time-twisting musical collective known for putting “pop music in a time machine” — returns to Boone with The Grand Reopening Tour, which promises audiences “the most sensational ’20s party this side of The Great Gatsby.” Performing some of modern music’s biggest hits in the classic styles of bygone eras, the tour features an ensemble of multi-talented singers and musicians who bring creator Scott Bradlee’s generation-spanning arrangements alive night after night. The core ensemble is often joined by surprise guests to make each concert unique and unpredictable – making for one of the most thrilling live music experiences of this and any other time period.

Boz Scaggs: Out of the Blues Tour 2022 (July 27, Schaefer Center, 8pm)
For five decades, Boz Scaggs has mined a personalized mix of rock, blues and R&B influences, along with a signature style of ballads on such influential ’70s albums as Moments, Boz Scaggs & Band, My Time, Slow Dancer, and 1976’s Silk Degrees, the latter of which spawned three Top 40 hit singles: “It’s Over,” “Lido Shuffle,” and the Grammy-winning “Lowdown.” Silk Degrees was followed by the albums Down Two then Left and Middle Man, introducing such hit singles as “Breakdown Dead Ahead,” “Jo Jo,” and “Look What You’ve Done to Me.” Scaggs’ appearance marks his first return to the festival since 2013.


Maeve Gilchrist featuring Aizuri Quartet & Kyle Sanna: The Harpweaver (July 5, Rosen Concert Hall, 7pm)
Described as “a phenomenal harp player who can make her instrument ring with unparalleled purity,” Maeve Gilchrist (harpist, singer, composer, and producer) has taken the Celtic (lever) harp to new levels of performance and visibility. The Aizuri Quartet infuses all of their music-making with infectious energy, joy and warmth. Gilchrist and the quartet, with guitarist Kyle Sanna, perform Gilchrist’s The Harpweaver, a piece that illuminates her roots as a traditional folk musician through the prism of luscious string parts, electronic manipulation, and an archived recitation of poet Edna St Vincent Millay’s “The Ballad of the Harpweaver.”

Eastern Music Festival Orchestra, featuring guest artist Santiago Rodriguez, piano (July 10, Schaefer Center, 7pm)
Under the direction of Maestro Gerard Schwarz, the Eastern Festival Orchestra returns to the festival for an evening of symphonic music by Coleman and Tchaikovsky, with guest artist Santiago Rodriguez, in a program that also features Grieg’s beloved Piano Concerto in a minor.

Hayes School of Music Faculty Chamber Players (July 12, Rosen Concert Hall, 7pm)
Conducted by Dr. Régulo Stabilito, the chamber orchestra — featuring faculty from Appalachian State University’s Hayes School of Music — performs a concert of diverse works from Martinů, Castellanos and Copland.

Imani Winds (July 19, Rosen Concert Hall, 7pm)
The twice Grammy-nominated Imani Winds has led both a revolution and the evolution of the wind quintet through their dynamic playing, adventurous programming, imaginative collaborations and outreach endeavors. The ensemble’s playlist embraces traditional chamber music repertoire, but as a 21st century group, Imani Winds is committed to expanding the wind quintet repertoire by commissioning music from new voices that reflect historical events and the times in which we currently live. The evening’s program is titled “The Beauty of Strife,” illuminating how world events yield significant art.

Rosen-Schaffel Competition for Young and Emerging Artists (July 24, Rosen Concert Hall, 2pm)
In partnership with the Hayes School of Music, the festival presents the 11th annual Rosen-Schaffel Competition for Young & Emerging Artists, known for the pivotal role it has played in launching the careers of some of our region’s most promising young artists. During this final live round, three distinguished conductors will choose a First, Second, and Third Place winner. The competition’s audience will also select an Audience Choice Award winner. In addition to a cash prize, the First Place winner will be awarded the opportunity to perform during the 2023 season of An Appalachian Summer Festival.

Rolston String Quartet (July 26, Rosen Concert Hall, 7pm)
With their debut album Souvenirs, an all-Tchaikovsky release that was named Recording of the Year by BBC Music Magazine, the Rolston String Quartet continues to receive acclaim and recognition for their musical excellence. The quartet, which will perform a program of Haydn, Thomas and Beethoven, was awarded First Prize at the 12th Banff International String Quartet Competition, and was the recipient in 2018 of Chamber Music America’s prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award. 


MOMIX: Alice (July 30, Schaefer Center, 7pm)
MOMIX’s internationally acclaimed dancer-illusionists conjure the magical world of the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Hearts in this stunning reimagining of Lewis Carroll’s novel. Journey down the rabbit hole with MOMIX and the visionary choreography of Artistic Director Moses Pendleton. Filled with visual splendor and startling creative movement, Alice reveals that nothing in MOMIX’s world is as it seems!


Broadway’s Next Hit Musical (July 7, Valborg Theatre, 8pm)
Whose Line Is It Anyway? meets The Tony Awards. Every song is fresh. Every scene is new. Every night is different. It is all improvised and it’s all funny. Broadway’s Next Hit Musical is the only unscripted theatrical awards show. Audience members write down made-up song titles and master improvisers gather the suggestions and present them as “nominated songs” for the coveted PHONY Award, creating spontaneous scenes and songs filled with great dancing, catchy melodies, and tons of laughter. The audience votes for their favorite song and watches as the cast turns that song into a full-blown improvised musical — complete with memorable characters, witty dialogue, and plot twists galore.


Known for his distinguished career with the School of Filmmaking at UNC’s School of the Arts, as well as his role as a nominator for the Academy Awards, the festival’s 2022 film curator, Dale Pollock, continues the festival’s reputation for presenting memorable and celebrated films from around the world. This season’s Weicholz Global Film Series (Schaefer Center, 7pm) features films that are told from a child’s point of view:
Playground (Un monde) (July 8)
Belfast (July 13)
When Pomegranates Howl (July 20)
On the Water (Vee peal) (July 28)


Summer Exhibition Celebration (July 1, Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, 5-9pm)
Celebrate summer at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts and engage, discover and connect through the arts! The Summer Exhibition Celebration is an opportunity for art lovers to meet the artists, enjoy live music and refreshments, and spend time with fellow arts patrons while exploring one of the most exciting venues in town: a collection of six galleries filled with a diverse mix of contemporary art by local, regional, and international artists.

36th Annual Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Walk (July 9, Schaefer Center, 10am)
To celebrate the 36th anniversary of this annual national juried competition, join competition juror Elizabeth Brim for an educational outdoor tour of the 10 sculptures from this year’s competition. The tour concludes at the Schaefer Center with an awards reception. Made possible by the continued support and generosity of the Rosen Family.

Lunch & Learn Series (Turchin Center, Noon)
The Turchin Center’s Faculty Biennial Exhibition (July 7)
Meet the Film Curator, featuring Dale Pollock (July 14)
Boone 150: A Celebration of Boone’s History (July 21)
A Central Visual Heritage of the Holocaust: The Wehrmacht and Anti-Jewish Propaganda (July 28)

Tickets for An Appalachian Summer Festival:
With ticket prices ranging from $20-$50, as well as several free events, the festival offers unique opportunities for residents and visitors to create arts experiences suited to their individual artistic tastes and budgets. To purchase tickets, call or visit the Schaefer Center box office at 800-841-2787 or 828-262-4046. Tickets can also be purchased online at

Ticket Packages
Value packages are available to purchase for the Popular Music Series* and Broyhill Chamber Series* (*some exclusions apply). Special Artist VIP Packages are being offered for Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives and Boz Scaggs: Out of the Blues Tour 2022. Visit for complete details.

Popular Series Package: $160 (SAVE $20!)*. 4 concerts (esperanza, Renee, PMJ, and Boz) *Marty Stuart and Boz Scaggs VIP Packages not included; applies to adult tickets only (offer expires July 9)
Broyhill Chamber Series Package: $100 (SAVE $20!)*. 4 concerts (Maeve Gilchrist/Aizuri Quartet, HSOM Faculty Chamber Players, Imani Winds, Rolston String Quartet) *applies to adult tickets only (offer expires July 5)

About An Appalachian Summer Festival:
Presented by Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts & Cultural Programs, this annual celebration of the performing and visual arts is held every July in venues across the university campus, and features an eclectic, diverse mix of music, dance, theatre, visual arts and film programming. An Appalachian Summer Festival began in 1984 as a chamber music series, and retains strong roots in classical music, combined with a variety of other programming geared to almost every artistic taste and preference. With an audience of 28,000, the festival has been named one of the “Top Twenty Events in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society in recent years.

Corporate Sponsors:
Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer, McDonald’s of Boone, Mast General Store, Goodnight Brothers, Boone Area Visitors Bureau, SkyBest Communications, Appalachian Home Care LLC, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Vincent Properties, PEAK Insurance, PNC Bank, Appalachian State University Bookstore, Peabody’s Wine & Beer Merchants, Creekside Electronics, Courtyard by Marriott, Chetola Resort, Hampton Inn & Suites, Holiday Inn Express-Boone, and The Horton Hotel.

Media Sponsors:
WBTV, WCYB, PBS North Carolina, Our State Magazine, Creative Loafing Charlotte, Yes! Weekly, Winston-Salem Journal, Greensboro News & Record, WNC Magazine, The Mountain Times, Watauga Democrat, High Country Radio, WHKY 1290AM and 102.3FM, WDAV 89.9FM, WFDD 88.5FM, WASU 90.5FM, and WKSK The Farm.

An Appalachian Summer Festival Nears Endowment Goal

Festival donor Christine Petti gives the endowment challenge effort a significant boost.

BOONE, NC— As An Appalachian Summer Festival prepares to celebrate its 38th season July 1-30, the festival’s dream of building a $5 million endowment is closer to reality. In July of 2019, festival patrons Nancy and Neil Schaffel announced a $1 million dollar gift to the fund, framing the commitment as a challenge to other festival supporters by requiring that their gift be “matched” dollar-for-dollar by other donors, over the course of a five-year period.

The festival is currently nearing the $1 million target for the Schaffels’ gift, with approximately $88,000 to go. If the target is reached, a total of $2 million will be added to the fund, bringing it to the $4 million level. The effort received a significant boost in October 2020, when festival donor Christine Petti stepped forward with a multiyear pledge of $500,000 to be applied toward the challenge target. The gift from Petti, combined with other generous gifts from festival supporters, has allowed the festival to approach the finish line. Festival organizers hope to reach the challenge goal this summer.

An Appalachian Summer Festival, an annual celebration of the performing and visual arts presented by Appalachian State University every summer, is acclaimed for presenting the “best of both worlds”: world-class music, dance, theatre, film and visual arts programming typically found in larger metropolitan areas, but at affordable prices. The festival is set in the beautiful High Country of North Carolina, on and around the campus of App State.

“Donors such as Nancy, Neil and Chris are passionate about ensuring access to quality arts programming for all,” notes Denise Ringler, Director of Arts Engagement and Cultural Resources at Appalachian State. “Their commitment will make it possible the festival to continue in perpetuity, enriching lives of residents across our region for generations to come.”

The 2022 festival features Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, Boz Scaggs: Out of the Blues Tour 2022, Tony winner Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton), Postmodern Jukebox: The Grand Reopening Tour, esperanza spalding in Concert, MOMIX: Alice, and the Eastern Festival Orchestra, as well as chamber music, theatre, lectures, international films, a young artist competition, outdoor sculpture walk and a variety of visual arts exhibitions.

About An Appalachian Summer Festival
Presented by Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts & Cultural Programs, this annual celebration of the performing and visual arts is held every July in venues across the university campus, and features an eclectic, diverse mix of music, dance, theatre, visual arts and film programming. An Appalachian Summer Festival began in 1984 as a chamber music series, and retains strong roots in classical music, combined with a variety of other programming geared to almost every artistic taste and preference. Attracting an audience of 28,000 to the High Country each year, the festival has been named one of the “Top Twenty Events in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society in recent years. For tickets and festival details, visit or call the box office at 828-262-4046.

Fave regional fest is back with Paula Poundstone, visual art, music, more

Fave regional fest is back with Paula Poundstone, visual art, music, more

by Lynn Felder

Now that real summer is upon us, it’s time to escape the Piedmont’s soaring temperatures at An Appalachian Summer Festival at Appalachian State University in Boone.

This year, you can attend in person or watch from home as An App Summ Fest presents a month-long whirlwind of music, dance, theatre, visual arts, and film programming July 2-31.

Visual arts and comedy take center stage on opening weekend to welcome the return of audiences (in socially distanced seating configurations) with a celebration of new Turchin Center exhibitions and a performance by comedian Paula Poundstone.

You can see the entire lineup, which includes appearances by Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jason Isbell, and Winston-Salem’s own North Carolina Black Repertory Co. here .

Exceptional visual art and music by The Mercury Dames will open An Appalachian Summer Festival on Friday.

The opening day event – 6-9 p.m. Friday, July 2, will be a Summer Exhibition Celebration at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, 423 W. King St., Boone.

You can experience diverse artwork by nationally and internationally renowned artists and listen to music by The Mercury Dames.

The event is free, but registration is required here . Covid-19 protocols and procedures will be in place.

Comedian Paula Poundstone will perform live and online Saturday.

Then on Saturday, July 3, at 5 and 8 p.m., you can laugh your elbow off with humorist, author, and comedian Paula Poundstone at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts733 Rivers St., Boone, and online.

Poundstone is known for her clever, observational humor and spontaneous wit. Poundstone continues as a panelist on NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!,” and is recognized in innumerable lists, documentaries, and literary compendiums noting influential stand-up comedians of our time.

She can be heard weekly as the host of the comedy podcast “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone.” She has voiced several animated characters, including “Forgetter Paula” in the Academy Award-winning feature film “Inside Out,” has appeared on numerous TV shows, including The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and has filed commentaries for CBS Sunday Morning.

Poundstone’s July 3 performance marks the first live and in-person App Summ Fest event since the Punch Brothers took the Schaefer Center stage on Aug. 1, 2019. And she is looking forward to sloughing off the existential Zoom-induced pains that have tormented citizens of the world since March of 2020.

When Artzenstuff caught up with Poundstone by phone at her home in Santa Monica, California, she was surrounded, as usual, by cats.

“They come over to get petted more when I sit on the floor,” she said. “I have 10. I just got two more kittens.” So it was no joke when Time magazine listed her HBO special, “Cats, Cops and Stuff,” as one of The 5 Funniest Stand-Up Specials Ever.

Poundstone said that she learned to adapt to new ways of delivering comedy during the pandemic.

“I wasn’t able to make ends meet, but I’ve been able to get them closer together,” she said. “Normally, I work in theaters on weekends,”

When that kind of work came to a screeching halt, she still felt grateful.

“In the darkest days, I remained one of the most fortunately people in the country,” she said. “Before the pandemic, I didn’t notice the price of cat food or gas, but that changed.

“The good news is I had a podcast in place – podcasting is like panning for gold; it can take a long time to even get in the black – and we did reach that point during the pandemic,” she said. “For a number of months, I did a mini-podcast – ‘The French Trump Presidential Press Conference.’ I had friends who played reporters. It was part of my healing process. It was painful to have to watch him. I had a four-year stomach ache.”

Now, she said, barring the COVID variants knocking us off our horses, “I’m trying to go back out. I’ll continue my podcast, ‘Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone.’ It’s the funniest, most healing show that I can possibly do. I do believe that laughter is part of that healing that we have to do.

“I had a woman on to talk about vermiculture. So I started a worm bin, and I’m planning on selling the castings. After all these years of taking care of emptying litter boxes of animal wastes, I finally have some that will profit me.”

Poundstone said that while growing up she went through phases of wanting to be this and that, and that her comedy influences included Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, Lucille Ball, and women on “Saturday Night Live” like Gilda Radner, and, of course, Lily Tomlin, who performed at App Summ Fest in 2019.

“I’m nothing like any of them except that I like the response of laughter,” she said.

Being funny has taken Poundstone both to the depths of people’s hearts and to the heights of society.

“For many years, I’d do meet-and-greets after a show – hug, handshake, photo – and on many occasions – people will say things like ‘My son died a year ago, and this is the first time I have left the house, and I laughed for hours.'”

The heights include validation from her comic heroes.

“I did fundraiser and a tribute to Lily Tomlin,” she said. “At some point, I was on stage at a mic, and Lily was sitting on a stool behind me. I was tributing her – in jokes of course, and Lily was roaring with laughter.”

Poundstone was the first person to do backstage coverage at the Emmys.

“The idea came from my manager. … It was just joyous. I didn’t do anything scripted. I went to a rehearsal – but it was really to figure out where to stand – I can’t tell time on stage so they had a stagehand who would crawl across the stage and tug on my pant leg.”

That night, she said, everybody was having so much fun that they called off the stagehand, and the producer said, “Let her go!”

“Every night something fun happens,” she said.

And she’s better informed that one might think from listening to her hilariously baffled performances on “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!

“I’ve been watching the news hour every night for 40 years,” she said.

She has some advice for artists, too.

“Do what’s in your heart. It’s the key to the whole thing. There’s more than one reason to do any kind of art. You feel so great when you hit that right note. You feel it through your whole body,” she said. “In negative times, you’ve got to split the difference, but I believe if you do what in your heart, it will take you a long way.”

Tickets for Poundstone – $40 in person and $15 livestream (8 p.m. only) – are at 800-841-2787, 828-262-4046, or .

All events this season, with the exception of Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, will be performed without an intermission. Concessions will not be offered at events taking place at the Schaefer Center, but will be for sale at other venues. The Cardinal, Village Inn Pizza, and Farmer’s Wife Fried Pies food trucks will be at all State Farm Road Concert Lot events, as well as beverage tents (beer, wine, soda and water), and apparel and merchandise tents (for both App Summer and the performing artists).

With ticket prices ranging from $5-$100, as well as several free events, the festival offers unique opportunities for residents and visitors to create arts experiences suited to their individual artistic tastes and budgets. To buy tickets or to register for virtual events, visit or call the Schaefer Center box office at 800-841-2787 or 828-262-4046, or . Registration is required for all streamed events except the chamber music concerts supported by The Violin Channel.