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The 14th annual Southern Illinois Music Festival starts May 25 and continues through June 10, offering a smorgasbord of classical orchestral and chamber music, opera, jazz and programs for youth at multiple venues across the region.

Musicians from throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia will perform, including members of the New Chicago Chamber Orchestra. The festival, which has been recognized by publications like The Chicago Tribune and Symphony magazine, draws attendees from all over the Midwest.

This year’s festival is titled “Twos By Tews,” and features music in pairs, including two vocal works, Mozart’s “Magic Flute” and Rossini’s “Messa di Gloria,” and two major symphonies, Beethoven’s No. 7 and Brahms’ No. 4.

It also includes the world premiere of “Double Concerto for Violin and Cello” by former SIU School of Music faculty Jacob Tews, the namesake for the festival’s 2018 theme. This concert takes place on Saturday, June 2, at Carterville High School. There are more double concertos scheduled by Bach (violins), Mozart (pianos) and Mendelssohn (clarinets).

“Don’t miss our grand finale, Mozart’s opera, “The Magic Flute,” on June 8 and 10 at Shryock,” said Edward Benyas, the festival’s artistic director and founder. “It will be sung in English with a fabulous cast, including the former Miss Illinois as ‘Queen of the Night,’ and set inside a video game.”

On Friday, June 1, the Southern Illinois Music Festival Orchestra and Chorus will join five vocal soloists in a rare performance of “Messa di Gloria” at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Herrin. And they’ll do it again on June 3 at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Carbondale.

2018 Southern Illinois Music Festival complete schedule

“This Rossini masterpiece, only discovered in the mid-20th century, has all of Rossini’s characteristic vocal beauty and colorful orchestration, with a sacred Latin text, presented in one of Southern Illinois’ iconic Catholic churches,” Benyas said.

On Saturday, June 2, participants in the first Opera Young Artists Program at SIU will perform great opera scenes at the Old Baptist Foundation recital hall, under the direction of SIU Professor David Dillard. And on Saturday, June 9, they perform again in the Anna Arts Center.

On Saturday, June 9, the Southern Illinois Music Festival Orchestra is joined by Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster, David Taylor, as violin soloist in Mendelssohn’s popular violin concerto, at Carterville High School. The concert opens with a Rossini overture and concludes with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.

Regular programming includes two large orchestral concerts, a virtuoso organ recital, chamber music, the New Arts Jazztet, and Klassics for Kids and Jive with Jazz events at multiple venues.

“I hope many will join us for our 14th season of great music,” Benyas said.

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