"A Jewel in the Crown of Texas": The beauty and drama of Festival Concert Hall, hand-crafted by Texas artisans to acoustic perfection. 2020 heralds the coming of Festival Hill's 50th season.
Where the music happens: the iconic Festival Concert Hall at Round Top Festival Institute. The world-acclaimed music institute, located along Jaster Road off Highway 237 in Round Top, is also the biggest employer in the area. For its "The Golden Age of Music" campaign, the treasured Texas performing arts landmark seeks nearly $13 million to ensure the future of its next 50 years.
The maestro who founded Round Top Festival Institute, pianist James Dick, serves as its artistic director. Dick's path to renown began when he was a major prize winner in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. He then went on to found the institute in 1971.
The vision behind Round Top Festival Institute: founder and artistic director, James Dick. The internationally acclaimed concert pianist's honors include a 2009 Texas Medal of Arts, a 2009 National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpieces touring artist award, and being named a 2009 Distinguished Alumnus from his alma mater, the University of Texas.
At Round Top Festival institute, a Beethoven Celebration program features the composer's Choral Fantasy, performed during the Summer 2016 Music Festival.
A program from Summer 2017's Round Top Festival Institute's Music Festival. The institute celebrates its 50th season from June 2020 through May 2021, ceremoniously titled "The Golden Age of Music."
Young musicians perform at a recent Round Top Festival Institute Music Festival. The program's alums, who each receive a $6,000 donated scholarship for the six-week intensive summer program, go on to take places in celebrated orchestras world-wide and are currently performing the classical repertoire throughout six continents.
Christian Arming is among the distinguished conductors who have graced the stage of Festival Hill Concert Hall.
Round Top Festival Institute's James Dick tickles the ivories in the field.
The Edythe Bates Old Chapel, dating from 1883, and moved to Festival Hill in 1994, is one of three historic buildings that are part of the life of the music institute. $450,000 is needed for facilities repair for this beautiful chapel used for concerts, as well as two other late Victorian-era structures, the Menke House of 1902, and the William Lockhart Clayton House, dating around 1885.
James Dick with (left to right) patrons Ima Hogg and Faith Bybee, Henkel Square, Round Top, 1973. Both women made a tremendous impact in the cultural life of the Round Top area, as well as the trajectory of the young pianist, James Dick, who founded the Round Top Music Institute and its Music Festival, first staged in June 1971.
On the institute's Festival Hill campus, the charming late-Victorian Menke House serves as communal dining hall.
Festival Hill in spring time; the 210-acre campus is active year-round, with 50-some performances held in its breathtaking Festival Concert Hall, bordered by beautiful gardens.
The acclaimed McAshan Herb Gardens at Festival Hill. The golden anniversary capital campaign seeks $175,000 to restore the gardens to their splendor after recent cycles of drought and post Harvey's flooding.
This article is part of a promoted series and not produced by the editorial staff.
The first in a series unveils plans for a fabled anniversary season at the internationally acclaimed Round Top Festival Institute.
Watch for coming updates — including exclusive behind-the-scenes stories of the Tchaikovsky Competition-winning pianist who began Festival Hill, how his grand dream came to be heard round the world, the young musicians and their teachers who make Festival Hill a destination for 10,000 music lovers every summer, upcoming Golden Anniversary programming highlights, the remarkable gardens and historic homes and church preserved by Festival Hill, and how you can make a difference in supporting the premier music festival in Texas.
Just in: A Texas cultural treasure — which has its own Texas Senate proclamation to prove it — has unveiled plans for its upcoming 50th year. The golden anniversary of Round Top Festival Institute, christened “The Golden Age of Music,” includes not only a series of concerts staged in the summer of 2020, but a bold, nearly $13 million capital campaign for impressive initiatives that extend into 2021.
These grand fundraising plans benefit scholarships, historic preservation including the William Lockhart Clayton House, landscape architecture including Festival Hill’s fabled gardens, a generous endowment, a book to document its first half century, and perhaps its most urgent and greatest immediate need — the completion of a $1.6 million Ensemble Center ensuring practice rooms for young musicians.
After all, this is the festival where an 18-year old Yo-Yo Ma stepped on stage in 1977, as one of Festival Hill’s first scholarship recipients.
Promisingly, the Herzstein Foundation has already stepped up with a lead grant towards the Ensemble Center. When completed, the new center will be multi-functional, including use as a conference center, generating rental revenue for decades to come. Festival Hill is now inviting individuals to donate so its brilliant young musicians have the facilities they need to prepare for concert performances.
Music acolytes in Texas, nationally, and internationally know of the Round Top Festival Institute, founded in the summer of 1971 by James Dick, a protégé of Ima Hogg and University of Texas Distinguished Alumnus, who was a major prize winner in the piano competition to end all, the International Tchaikovsky. (Texas’ other celebrated Tchaikovsky winner was Van Cliburn.)
While James Dick’s vision for Festival Hill has flourished to blossom into its present incantation — a 210-acre campus valued at $23 million, drawing 40,000 visitors annually, and a prime role as the biggest employer in the Round Top area — there’s an entire new generation of classical music lovers who have never yet experienced the breathtaking beauty of Festival Hill and its rich musical programming.
One of the most striking venues in the U.S., Festival Concert Hall features hand-hewn timbers arrayed in arresting geometric patterns testifying to the skill of this rural area’s traditional woodworkers. With 1,000-seats, the hall is intimate as well as warm and dramatic. It evokes the 19th century, yet possesses acoustics and sight lines that are modern and exemplary.
But it is what happens on stage that is most extraordinary, with diverse, world-class programming — marimba to Mozart — and as of the last 20 years, a season that features 50 performances throughout the year.
Its juried young musicians, some 100 in number annually, each receive $6,000 donated scholarships to Festival Hill’s intensive six-week summer performance sessions. The gifted players are in turn taught by 50 illustrious, visiting faculty gleaned from universities, conservatories, and orchestras worldwide.
Festival Hill alum, who represent a United Nations of musicians, receive performance experience, training, and mentorship comparable to two years of university-level instruction — all within the bucolic setting of Round Top, Texas, where they are comfortably housed at the music institute’s campus, sharing meals at a cozy communal dining hall within the 1902-era Menke House.
The greatest measure of Festival Hill’s success, besides its loyal audience, are these notable alums. The program’s graduates currently may be heard on six continents, gracing the stages and performing with orchestras from the New York Philharmonic to the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., and the Guildhall School of London.
To give to Festival Hill’s Golden Age of Music Campaign, contribute to one of Texas’ most extraordinary cultural treasures, and ensure that tomorrow’s classical talents rehearse in a state-of-the-art Ensemble Center, donate here. Be one of the Texans who makes it happen, and be part of the next 50 years for Festival Hill.