ECMA presents an annual festival


World-renowned classical pianist Alon Goldstein enjoys performing for audiences, often schoolchildren, away from the famous stages he usually frequents. Goldstein, founder and artistic director of the Emerald Coast Music Alliance, describes these moments as transformative and upsetting.

These are the moments that inspired him to offer “Carnegie Hall”, free of charge, to children and adults in the community who would not normally have access to such an experience. Over the past three years, Goldstein, working with members of ECMA, has brought world-class musicians to perform live in various venues in Northwest Florida.

In 2017, Goldstein and other distinguished musicians performed at five venues serving youth and adults for a week. The following year, the program expanded to a quartet with piano and strings, which performed in 15 venues.

Last year, Goldstein and ECMA invited Grammy-nominated cellist Amit Peled and the Peabody Cello Gang, a group of talented music students from the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, to perform 25 times at 17 different venues.

The ECMA festival, scheduled for January 12-18, will feature two winners of the International Concert Artist Guild Competition: JiJi, a Korean-born classical guitarist who has performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York; and CAG 2018 winner percussionist Mitya Nilov. The festival program will also feature Goldstein, four other pianists and a brass quintet.

With 12 musicians, this year’s program is expected to include more than 30 concerts in schools, retirement homes and other establishments in Northwest Florida, as well as two free concerts at the Sprint Theater at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center in Niceville January 14 and 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Goldstein has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphonies, San Francisco, Baltimore, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, Toronto and Vancouver as well as with the Israel Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic and Radio France. He is also artistic director of The Distinguished Artists concert and lecture series in Santa Cruz, California, and the Mount Angel Abbey Bach Festival in Oregon.

The Emerald Coast Music Alliance provides classical music exposure to populations who would otherwise not have access to it, including children, people with special needs, the elderly and infirm, and those in rural areas. ECMA’s goal is to increase appreciation for classical music and enrich life by bringing professional classical musicians to our region to perform for these populations for free in accessible community venues.

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