WATERVILLE — More than 50 people gathered on Saturday afternoon in Colby College’s Lorimer Chapel for the first new-music concert of the Atlantic Music Festival.

The new-music program is a series of concerts at the festival that feature pieces from composers that have yet to be performed anywhere else. The practice has been a part of the festival since its founding 11 years ago. This year’s series will include the debut of 40 to 50 brand-new pieces of music.

According to Solbong Kim, the festival’s founder and director, the new-music program is akin to a laboratory of musical experimentation.

“The new-music concerts are a little less traditional. Normally in classical music concerts, people play pieces from dead composers, like Copland and Wagner, but here it’s all about premiering brand-new work,” Kim said. “It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but these concerts are a safe space for composers and musicians to focus on performing new music.”

The new works that are debuted throughout the series are performed by conservatory-trained musicians who are transitioning from school into the working world. Kim claims that the concert series is a great way to help them make that shift smoothly.

Kathy Lee, at the piano, and Kimberly Durflinger, on the violin, playing Thomas L. Wilson’s “Fighting the Mischievous Imp” on Saturday during the Atlantic Music Festival at Colby College in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by Molly Shelly

“These are young artists who need a platform to go from the conservatory into their careers as working musicians,” Kim said. “And it’s proven to be beneficial. In the first year we had two flutists go on to the Metropolitan Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.”

Saturday’s performance played from 1 to 3 p.m. and featured a string quartet, a clarinet duo and two six-person ensembles.

The composers of Saturday’s repertoire were seated in the audience along with composers whose work will debut later in the festival.

One of the composers was James Pecore, 19, a student at Columbia University who’s debuting two pieces during this year’s series.

Pecore, a choral composer who’s originally from Oregon, had never attended the Atlantic Music Festival before. After the first week of performances, he said he’s never experienced an event quite like it.

“This festival has people coming from all over the world to play music and collaborate,” Pecore said. “Every language from the music world is being spoken here. It’s so incredible.”

Pecore’s choral piece “Starlight” and instrumental piece “Seaside Swordsmen” will be performed during the third week of the concert series.

The Atlantic Music Festival, which is running from June 30 to July 28, has continued to grow and, according to Kim, will look and operate differently next year, thanks to the addition of more than 100 new musicians.

Some of the new features that Kim expects to come with the festival’s expansion are larger concert sizes as well as more concert locations, including some in downtown Waterville.

“Were expecting the scope of our festival to be bigger,” Kim said. “I have one attendee who’s told me the festival’s concerts are like watching live music in your living room. I think this will be the last year it will feel like that because of how much we’ve grown.”

Despite the expansion, Kim promises the festival itself will remain the same.

To find out more information and to view the festival’s full schedule go to http://www.atlanticmusicfestival.org.

Isidora Nojkovic, on cello, Celeste Markey, on clarinet, and Leo Sussman, on flute, play composer Hannah Boissonneault’s piece “Waiting for the Funnel” on Saturday during the Atlantic Music Festival at Colby College in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by Molly Shelly

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