The Chamber Music Festival of Lexington has not been an event for big splashy changes, but this year has seen and will see subtle shifts.
One is that for the second consecutive year, a guest violinist is sitting in for Akiko Tarumoto, the wife of Lexington native and festival artistic director Nathan Cole. Tarumoto had been part of the festival's core piano quintet its first four seasons until she had to miss last year due to other obligations.
This year, her absence comes in part from good news: She and Cole, both violinists in the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, are expecting their first child early next year.
That opened the door for violinist Jasmine Lin to join the ensemble.
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"We've all known each other for 15 years," Cole says of Lin, who attended Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music at the same time he and festival violist Burchard Tang were there. "I've gotten to play with her a lot and I knew she would be a great fit here."
After Tuesday's rehearsal, Lin said, "I'm very proud of Nathan for starting this festival and glad to be a part of it."
Lin is now based in Chicago and works primarily as a chamber musician.
"I think it's the highest form of art possible," Lin says of chamber music. "All the genres are beautiful in their own way. When you listen to a big symphony orchestra, it's exhilarating and you get kind of hit sometimes by the sheer magnitude of what's being done. And when you listen to one person play a solo, that has its appeal because it's one person's interpretation and it's very individual. But when you have chamber music, it covers the whole scope. There's a lot of richness and power, but there's also a lot of personality and a lot of teamwork in between."
The personality of the days leading up to the festival weekend also have changed.
The first two days traditionally had been focused on events involving the artistic process, such as master classes and an open rehearsal, but this year, the Wednesday and Thursday night events featured actual performances, albeit non-traditional ones.
Wednesday reunited Cole with the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, where he played growing up, with a master class with festival string players followed by a performance of Spring from Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons with Cole as the violin soloist. Thursday typically had been open rehearsals but became a preview concert at Portofino restaurant.
Regardless of format, Cole says he always looks forward to the festival.
"I love playing being around my friends and playing with them," Cole says. "It's the one time of year we get to."
And the Lexington audience gets to enjoy it.