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Savannah Music Festival 2009

In its seventh year, the Savannah Music Festival continues to sharpen its personality, intent on quality, diversity, education and cross-pollination. With drawing cards such as Chick Corea, Marc-André Hamelin, Béla Fleck and Beverly “Guitar” Watkins, SMF 2009 enticingly covered jazz, classical, folk and blues over a leisurely span of 18 days, beginning on the last afternoon of winter and lingering through the first Sunday in April. Rob Gibson, one of the founding fathers of Jazz @ Lincoln Center, is the executive and artistic director in Savannah, ensuring that jazz isn’t an afterthought when the azaleas bloom.

Daniel Hope and Marcus Roberts, associate SMF directors respectively for chamber music and jazz education, give the festival much of its special zing. Hope not only performed in all six of the “Sensations” chamber concerts that he curated, he guested at the “Maestros in Concert” event featuring tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain and santoor guru Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, a memorable East-West summit of classical improvisation. Roberts was no less audacious in his boundary crossings, playing the Gershwin Concerto in F at the festival finale concert with the Atlanta Symphony. On the previous weekend, Roberts shared top-billing with Sebastian Knauer, a German pianist currently making waves in classical circles.

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