From March 29 through April 14, 2018, venues throughout Savannah’s Historic District will be filled with the extensive concerts, recitals, dance parties, film, theatrical and multi-disciplinary productions that make up the 29th edition of the Savannah Music Festival (SMF). Operating in multiple venues for the first 16 days of the 2018 festival, the organization presents its most ambitious classical music programming to date, extensive world music offerings and a hard-hitting week of jazz and acclaimed Americana and folk music artists, in addition to theatrical productions and films. On April 14, the final day of SMF 2018, an all-day multi-stage event is scheduled for the newly-renovated event spaces at Trustees’ Garden. Tickets to the 2018 festival are available online at savannahmusicfestival.org, by phone at 912.525.5050 and in person at 216 E. Broughton Street.
Savannah Music Festival Finale at Trustees’ Garden: April 14, 2018
SMF’s all-day festival finale at Trustees’ Garden is a multi-stage continuous presentation of live music featuring Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gillian Welch, Marc Broussard, Brent Cobb, Brett Dennen, Septeto Santiaguero, Mipso, Sammy Miller & the Congregation, Betsayda Machado y Parranda El Clavo, Velvet Caravan with special guest Jessica Ann Best and the Acoustic Music Seminar finale, Stringband Spectacular. The 8.5-acre campus will also host a vendor marketplace containing local and regional food and refreshments. General Admission tickets for SMF at Trustees’ Garden are currently at Block II price of $119.50. When Block II allotments are gone, prices will go up to Block III levels. VIP tickets to the finale are sold-out.
Chamber, symphonic, vocal music and recitals
Entering his 15th season as SMF Associate Artistic Director, violinist Daniel Hope welcomes his friends from across North America and Europe for SMF’s annual chamber music series, including a three-concert residency for the Zurich Chamber Orchestra at the start of the festival with soloists Hope, Sebastian Knauer, Kristian Bezuidenhout, Benny Kim, Daria Zappa Matesic, Simos Papanas and SMF Associate Artistic Director Marcus Roberts and his trio. Internationally-renowned violinist Pinchas Zukerman, a musical hero of Hope’s, will perform with his Zukerman Trio alone and in a concert including Hope (their first time playing together). Also for the chamber music series, Daniel Hope & Friends play Alan Fletcher’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, which was co-commissioned by SMF, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra and the New Century Chamber Orchestra. Recitalists include luminary pianists Murray Perahia and Marc-André Hamelin, 2017 Van Cliburn Gold winner Yekwon Sunwoo and fortepiano virtuoso Kristian Bezuidenhout. Renaissance polyphony devotees Stile Antico return following their stunning SMF 2011 concert, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra makes their 13th consecutive appearance featuring Georgia native violinist Robert McDuffie and maestro Robert Spano. The renowned brass ensemble the American Brass Quintet plays two concerts at the Charles H. Morris Center. Classics from the American Songbook and musical theater are featured in the return performance of diva Audra McDonald, and in the Savannah VOICE Festival co-production Classical Broadway.
Jazz, blues and R&B
SMF celebrates the 50th anniversary of Savannah’s Benedetto Guitars with a one-time-only concert featuring Pat Martino, Howard Alden, Chico Pinheiro, Romero Lubambo and “King” Solomon Hicks. Up-and-coming jazz pianists Sullivan Fortner and Chris Pattishall perform in a variety of projects, including the original production entitled Trumpet Masters: Celebrating Louis Armstrong & Lee Morgan with Alphonso Horne and Terell Stafford. Jazz organist Dr. Lonnie Smith makes his SMF debut. Other original jazz productions include the premiere of a commissioned work by Trinidadian trumpet player Etienne Charles for his septet in Gullah Roots, a co-bill with Charleston’s Ranky Tanky. The annual Swing Central Jazz workshop and competition culminates in an all-star concert called Stomping the Blues and the annual Late Night Jazz Jam. Guitarists Bill Frisell and Julian Lage share a bill with their respective trios, and the Maria Schneider Orchestra makes its SMF debut. Lee Fields & The Expressions return to SMF for a special co-bill of throwback soul and R&B with The James Hunter Six.
American and global roots music
Bluegrass divas Rhonda Vincent & The Rage and Claire Lynch Band share the stage on opening night, followed the next day by the Mission Temple Fireworks Revival with Paul Thorn Band and the Blind Boys of Alabama. Songwriter-guitarist Margaret Glaspy performs on a double bill with Jenny Scheinman’s Mischief & Mayhem feat. Nels Cline, Todd Sickafoose and Jim Black, and Tulsa’s John Moreland shares an alt-country bill with Nashville songwriter-guitarist Aaron Lee Tasjan. New acoustic music projects include the SMF debut of Kittel & Co., and Hawktail sharing a bill with The Barr Brothers; guitarist Tommy Emmanuel plays on a co-bill with Jayme Stone’s Folklife and the original production The Voice is a Traveler features Moira Smiley and Anna & Elizabeth. Rosanne Cash & John Leventhal return to the Lucas stage as a duo and Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives play Ships of the Sea, as do the North Mississippi Allstars. Rhiannon Giddens plays her first theater show at SMF, and Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn return with music from their new project, Echo in the Valley. The music of Mali is well-represented with Trio Da Kali sharing a bill with South African guitarist Derek Gripper (a kora music practitioner) and his African String Project. Mandolinist and Associate Artistic Director Mike Marshall and pianist Jovino Santos Neto perform Brazilian music in A World of Strings on a co-bill with oud master Simon Shaheen and kanun player Firas Zreik. Iberian sounds include the great flamenco singer Diego El Cigala and Portuguese fado singer António Zambujo; cellist Mike Block performs with fellow Silkroad Ensemble musician Sandeep Das on tabla; and this season’s Latin Dance Party features the incomparable Cuban son ensemble, Septeto Santiaguero. Festival favorites Lúnasa and Tim O’Brien team up for a concert of Irish and Appalachian-influenced music, and Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas play on a double bill with an exciting new all-female acoustic music quartet called The Goodbye Girls.
Theatrical and film presentations
Performance collective Manual Cinema performs their original work, Lula del Ray, a mythic reinvention of a classic coming-of-age story, and PIAF! The Show features Anne Carrere as Edith Piaf in a production directed by Nice-based theater maverick Gil Marsalla. Films at SMF 2018 include BiRDMAN LiVE, a screening of the Academy Award-winning “Birdman or (the Unxpected Virtue of Ignorance)” with live score by drummer Antonio Sanchez, the US premiere of “Daniel Hope: the Sound of Life” and “Terezín: Refuge in Music.”