Photo by Justin Briggs

Contact: Jean Shirk or 510-332-4195           

Southern Oregon’s Britt Classical Festival, led by Teddy Abrams, pairs contemporary and new music with core classical repertoire in 2015 summer season July 31-August 15

Highlights include performances of John Adams’ Absolute Jest; Mason Bates’ Mothership; the world premiere of new folk song cycle written by Abrams, Aoife O'Donovan and Jeremy Kittel, and performed by O’Donovan and Kittel; a Teddy Abrams world premiere; performances of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, Suite No. 2, and Orff’s Carmina Burana; and recent work by Samuel Adams

Guest artists Aoife O’Donovan and Jeremy Kittel, Mason Bates, The Dover Quartet, James Ehnes, Morgan James, Sixth Floor Trio featuring Teddy Abrams, Celena Shafer, Javier Abreu, Hugh Russell, Southern Oregon Repertory Singers, Rogue Valley Chorale and San Francisco Girls Chorus perform at the Festival


(left to right) Teddy Abrams, Aoife O’Donovan, James Ehnes)

JACKSONVILLE, OR (May 26, 2015) — The Britt Classical Festival, led by Music Director and Conductor Teddy Abrams, has announced a wide-ranging, adventurous series of concerts of contemporary and new music paired with core classical repertoire for its three-week 2015 season, beginning July 31. The highlights include the world premiere of a folk song cycle, Bull Frogs Croon, written by Abrams, vocalist and songwriter Aoife O’Donovan and fiddler Jeremy Kittel, set to poetry by Oregon poet laureate Peter Sears, and performed by O'Donovan and Kittel with the Britt Orchestra. Teddy Abrams has also written a new work, Questions, which will be given its world premiere, and the orchestra performs Kentucky Royal Fanfare, which Abrams wrote for Prince Charles' visit to Louisville earlier this year. Also on the festival program: performances of John Adams’ Absolute Jest string quartet showcase with the Dover Quartet and Samuel Adams’ recent work Radial Play; the West Coast premiere of Kittel's Big Fiddle; O'Donovan's Red & White & Blue & Gold; orchestral showpieces including Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring; Abrams performing on piano and clarinet with his own Sixth Floor Trio, playing music from a variety of genres in a program alongside music by Samuel Barber and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique; and composer Mason Bates on electronica in his popular work Mothership with the Britt Orchestra, on a program that features James Ehnes in Barber’s Violin Concerto. The festival takes place in the Britt Pavilion, an intimate, beautiful outdoor 2,200-capacity amphitheater in the historic Gold Rush town of Jacksonville, Oregon, 17 miles from Ashland. This is Teddy Abrams’ second season as the Britt Classical Festival’s music director.

Other highlights of the three-week festival include:

  • Carmina Burana, with soprano Celena Shafer, tenor Javier Abreu, and baritone Hugh Russell, and members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus, the Southern Oregon Repertory Singers, and the Rogue Valley Chorale;
  • An evening of music by Leonard Bernstein, sung by Broadway vocalist Morgan James with the Britt Orchestra, including songs from West Side Story, Wonderful Town, On the Town, and others;
  • An all-French orchestral showcase for The Britt Orchestra, with Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe, Suite 2; Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; Debussy’s Jeux, and Guillaume Connesson’s Cosmic Trilogy, Part 1: Aleph;
  • A 30-voice ensemble drawn from the San Francisco Girls Chorus sings in the charming Performance Garden;
  • Two free morning concerts for children, one with percussionist and educator Gabriel Globus-Hoenich.

Abrams, 27, a native of San Francisco now beginning his second year as the festival’s music director, is a pianist and clarinetist as well as a conductor. Abrams is music director of the Louisville Orchestra, and a former conducting fellow at New World Symphony in Miami Beach. He was a member of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra for seven years and a graduate of San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Since he began at the Louisville Orchestra, Abrams has been a tireless evangelist in that community for the power of music: without categories, without labels. He is a common sight in town, riding his bicycle around, stopping in cafes to hand out concert tickets, playing jazz, klezmer music, or standards on his keyboard in the street, and inviting people, one by one, to come and experience the orchestra’s music making. The Louisville Orchestra’s original YouTube video web series, “Music Makes a City Now,” is as much a document of Teddy’s life as it is the transformative approach he is taking to reinvigorate the city’s relationship with its resident “band,” the Louisville Orchestra. Abrams is bringing that same inspired approach to the Britt Festival, and the way he envisions and crafts the musical experience at its concerts.

Abrams’ choice of the work of several Bay Area composers this season is not a coincidence. He has had working relationships with John Adams, Samuel Adams, and Mason Bates, all with Bay Area ties, throughout his still-nascent career. “I’ve known John Adams since I was in the SF Symphony Youth Orchestra. He had me do several projects with him. Samuel Adams and Mason Bates both came to New World Symphony,” Abrams said. “To be able to program their work here at the Britt Festival, and to bring these other really incredible artists, is a unique opportunity. You’re not going to find this in Northern California, or anywhere else. There are only a few places in the country that could program these kinds of pieces. And the Britt Orchestra is performing at an incredibly high level.”

The complete concert schedule for the 2015 Britt Classical Festival follows. Tickets are on sale now at for all 2015 Britt Classical Festival concerts.

Friday, July 31 – 8 pm

Britt Pavilion, Jacksonville, Oregon
Teddy Abrams, conductor
Britt Orchestra
Celena Shafer, soprano
Javier Abreu, tenor
Hugh Russell, baritone
Southern Oregon Repertory Singers
Rogue Valley Chorale
San Francisco Girls Chorus - Chorissma

TEDDY ABRAMS: Kentucky Royal Fanfare
SCRIABIN: Poem of Ecstasy
ORFF: Carmina Burana

Trio Terra Nova performs in the Performance Garden from 6 to 6:45 pm, in the Table Rock City series. Jefferson Public Radio personalities host a pre-concert conversation at 7 pm in the Performance Garden.

The Friday, July 31 performance is preceded by a gala dinner at 6 pm. Tickets are sold separately. For gala dinner ticket information, visit

Saturday, August 1 – 8 p.m.
Britt Pavilion, Jacksonville, Oregon
Teddy Abrams, conductor
Britt Orchestra
The Dover Quartet 

JOHN ADAMS: Absolute Jest
STRAVINSKY: The Rite of Spring 

Siskiyou Violins performs in the Performance Garden from 6 to 6:45 pm, in the Table Rock City series. Jefferson Public Radio personalities host a pre-concert conversation at 7 pm in the Performance Garden.

Sunday, August 2 – 8 p.m.
Britt Festival Performance Garden, Jacksonville, Oregon
Members of San Francisco Girls Chorus 

Program: A 30-voice ensemble of the San Francisco Girls Chorus performs.
Tickets: $5 general admission 

Tuesday, August 4 – 10:30 a.m.
Britt Festival Performance Garden, Jacksonville, Oregon
Britt Orchestra Oboe Section, Principal Oboe Joseph Salvalaggio 

Children’s Concert: When Giant Babies Attack!
Program: “When Giant Babies Attack” is the story of a family that lives in a town called Beetville where there is nothing to eat except for beets. Clementine and Susanna (represented by two familiar children’s tunes) feed their beets to their baby brother Danny and he grows to giant proportions, inadvertently unleashing havoc on their quiet town. The dramatic conclusion recalls the King Kong story, with Danny swatting at helicopters atop Beetville's tallest building to Ride of the Valkyries. Everything ends well as their mom comes to the rescue in the nick of time. 

Tickets: This event is free; no tickets required. Suitable for ages 4-9. Concert is approximately 30-40 minutes.

Friday, August 7 – 8 p.m.
Britt Pavilion, Jacksonville, Oregon
Teddy Abrams, conductor
Britt Orchestra
Aoife O’Donovan, vocalist and guitar
Jeremy Kittel, fiddle/violin 

IVES: Putnam's Camp from Three Places in New England
AOIFE O'DONOVAN: Red & White & Blue & Gold
JEREMY KITTEL: Big Fiddle (West Coast Premiere)
AOIFE O'DONOVAN/ JEREMY KITTEL/TEDDY ABRAMS: (poems by Peter Sears, music by Aoife O'Donovan, Jeremy Kittel, and Teddy Abrams): Bull Frogs Croon (World Premiere)
I. Night Fishing
II. The Darkness
III. Valentine
ANTHEIL: A Jazz Symphony
IVES: Ragtime Dance No. 3
COPLAND: Suite from Billy The Kid

Mazama Saxophone Quartet performs in the Performance Garden from 6 to 6:45 pm, in the Table Rock City series. Jefferson Public Radio personalities host a pre-concert conversation at 7 pm in the Performance Garden. 

Saturday, August 8 – 8 p.m.
Britt Pavilion, Jacksonville, Oregon
Teddy Abrams, conductor
Britt Orchestra
Sixth Floor Trio 

BARBER: Second Essay
Set featuring Sixth Floor Trio (with Teddy Abrams)
BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique 

Southern Oregon University Faculty Brass Quintet performs in the Performance Garden from 6 to 6:45 pm, in the Table Rock City series. Jefferson Public Radio personalities host a pre-concert conversation at 7 pm in the Performance Garden.

Sunday, August 9 – 7:30 p.m.
Britt Pavilion, Jacksonville, Oregon
Teddy Abrams, conductor
Morgan James, vocalist
Britt Orchestra 

Program: The Symphony Pops night returns with an all-Bernstein program, featuring vocalist and Broadway star Morgan James. The program includes songs from West Side Story, On the Town, Wonderful Town and more.

Tickets: $15 reserved/$5 lawn

Tuesday, August 11 – 10:30 a.m.

Britt Festival Performance Garden, Jacksonville, Oregon
Children’s Concert featuring Gabriel Globus-Hoenich 

Program: Percussionist and educator Gabriel Globus-Hoenich will be in residence at Britt Music & Arts Festival for the 2015 season. Gabriel is one of the founders of Drumming for Social Change, an organization dedicated to researching and developing percussion based educational programming.

Tickets: This concert is free; no tickets required. Suitable for ages 4-9. Concert is approximately 30-40 minutes.

Friday, August 14 – 8 p.m.
Britt Pavilion, Jacksonville, Oregon
Teddy Abrams, conductor
Britt Orchestra
James Ehnes, violin
Mason Bates, electronica 

MASON BATES: Mothership
BARBER: Violin Concerto
BRAHMS: Symphony No. 2

Harris-Fitch Trio performs in the Performance Garden from 6 to 6:45 pm, in the Table Rock City series. Jefferson Public Radio personalities host a pre-concert conversation at 7 pm in the Performance Garden.

Saturday, August 15 – 8 p.m.
Britt Pavilion, Jacksonville, Oregon
Teddy Abrams, conductor
Britt Orchestra 

GUILLAUME CONNESSON: Cosmic Trilogy, Part 1: Aleph
DUKAS: The Sorcerer's Apprentice
RAVEL: Daphnis et Chloé, Suite No. 2 

Heavenly Harp & Flute Duo performs in the Performance Garden from 6 to 6:45 pm, in the Table Rock City series. Jefferson Public Radio personalities host a pre-concert conversation at 7 pm in the Performance Garden.

TICKETS: Unless noted above, tickets for the orchestra concerts are $45 reserved, $32 adult lawn, $10 child/student lawn. Classical Festival tickets can be purchased at In addition to tickets for single concerts, the popular Classical Lawn Pass, a flexible package of three lawn tickets, is available, along with a special package price for students. Call the box office at 1-800-882-7488 or 773-6077 or visit Full program and guest artist information for all concerts is also available at


Teddy Abrams
An unusually versatile musician, Teddy Abrams, 27, is a widely acclaimed conductor, as well as an established pianist, clarinetist, and composer. He was appointed Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra beginning with its 2014-15 season, becoming the youngest music director of a major US orchestra, and recently concluded his successful first season there. Appointed in September 2014 as Music Director and Conductor of the Britt Classical Festival, 2015 marks Abrams’ second season in that role. He was the Assistant Conductor of the Detroit Symphony through the 2013-14 season.

Teddy is the focus of the Louisville Orchestra’s original web video series Music Makes a City Now. The series illustrates the passionate and creative ways Abrams is reinvigorating the Louisville Orchestra and the musicians’ relationship with the city. In the 2014 summer season at the Britt Festival, Teddy’s programs included vocalist Storm Large singing Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins with the Britt Orchestra, Bela Fleck performing his new banjo concerto, and a concert with Time for Three, alongside Mahler’s First Symphony and Dvoƙák’s “New World” Symphony. 

Active as a guest conductor, Abrams’ recent performances include his debuts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the New Mexico Philharmonic, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and the Sun Valley Summer Symphony. He returned to conduct the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony with Joshua Bell as soloist, The Florida Orchestra, the Jacksonville Symphony, and the San Francisco Symphony, where he conducted the orchestra's summer classical series in July 2013. From 2008 to 2011 Abrams was the Conducting Fellow and Assistant Conductor of the New World Symphony and conducted many performances, including subscription concerts and numerous other full and chamber orchestra events. Abrams has conducted the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Washington, D.C. and at Carnegie Hall, and has worked with many other orchestras around the country.

As a pianist and clarinetist, Abrams has appeared as a soloist with a number of orchestras, including playing and conducting the Ravel Piano Concerto with the Jacksonville Symphony in fall 2013. He has performed chamber music with the St. Petersburg String Quartet, Menahem Pressler, Gilbert Kalish, Time for Three, and John Adams, in addition to annual appearances at the Olympic Music Festival.  Dedicated to exploring new and engaging ways to communicate with a diverse range of audiences, Abrams co-founded the Sixth Floor Trio in 2008. The Trio has performed around the country, establishing residencies in communities in North Carolina, Philadelphia, New York and South Florida. Abrams and the Trio founded and direct GardenMusic, the music festival of the world-renowned Fairchild Tropical Garden in Miami.

Abrams studied conducting with Michael Tilson Thomas, Otto-Werner Mueller and Ford Lallerstedt at the Curtis Institute of Music, and with David Zinman at the Aspen Music Festival; he was the youngest conducting student ever accepted at both institutions. Abrams is also an award-winning composer and a passionate educator, and has taught at numerous schools throughout the United States. His 2009 education concerts with the New World Symphony (featuring the world premiere of one of Abrams’ own orchestral works) were webcast to hundreds of schools throughout South Florida.

Abrams performed as a keyboardist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, won the 2007 Aspen Composition Contest, and was the Assistant Conductor of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in 2009.  He has held residencies at the La Mortella music festival in Ischia, Italy and at the American Academy in Berlin. The native San Franciscan was a proud member of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra for seven seasons, and graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music, having studied piano with Paul Hersh.

The Britt Orchestra first performed in 1963. Since its grassroots beginnings more than 50 years ago, the non-profit organization has grown from a two-week chamber music festival to a summer-long series of concerts in a variety of genres, including a three-week Classical Festival, and year-round education and engagement programs. The 2015 Classical Festival orchestra is a high-caliber ensemble that draws 90 musicians from top orchestras across the country. Performances take place in an intimate and scenic outdoor hillside venue in Jacksonville, Oregon, five miles from Medford and 17 miles from Ashland, Oregon. For more information, visit


Mason Bates: Recently appointed the first composer-in-residence of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and named the second most-performed living composer, Mason Bates writes music that fuses innovative orchestral writing, imaginative narrative forms, the harmonies of jazz and the rhythms of techno. His symphonic music has been the first to receive widespread acceptance for its expanded palette of electronic sounds, and it is championed by leading conductors such as Riccardo Muti, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Leonard Slatkin. Bates’ activities as a DJ in San Francisco and Chicago have highly informed not only his compositional approach, but also his distinctive curating projects. He has become a visible advocate for bringing new music to new spaces, whether through institutional partnerships such as his residency with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, or through his club/classical project Mercury Soul, which has transformed spaces ranging from commercial clubs to Frank Gehry-designed concert halls into exciting, hybrid musical events drawing over a thousand people. In awarding Bates the Heinz Medal, Teresa Heinz said “his music has moved the orchestra into the digital age and dissolved the boundaries of classical music.” 

As part of the San Francisco Symphony’s recent Beethoven & Bates Festival, three of his largest works — Alternative Energy, Liquid Interface, and The B-Sides — were recorded for an upcoming CD focusing on his music. Another major work, his Violin Concerto, was recorded by Leonard Slatkin, the London Symphony, and violinist Anne Akiko Meyers. Bates’ work Mothership was premiered at the Sydney Opera House by the YouTube Symphony Orchestra and Bates to an online audience of 1.8 million. His symphonic music’s dramatic realization of narrative forms has recently attracted the attention of great artists outside classical music, such as director Gus Van Sant, whose upcoming film Sea of Trees starring Matthew McConaughey features a symphonic score by Bates. His diverse catalogue includes many purely acoustic works, in addition to chamber and vocal music. For more info, go to and

The Dover Quartet catapulted to international stardom following a stunning sweep of the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition, becoming one of the most in-demand ensembles in the world. The New Yorker recently dubbed them “the young American string quartet of the moment,” and The Strad wrote that the Quartet is “already pulling away from their peers with their exceptional interpretive maturity, tonal refinement and taut ensemble.” In 2013-14, the Quartet became the first ever Quartet-in-Residence for the Curtis Institute of Music. During the 2014-15 season, the Dover Quartet performed more than 100 concerts throughout the United States, Canada, South America, and Europe. Highlights included concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Schneider Concerts in New York City, and Wigmore Hall in London. The Quartet also performed with the pianists Andre Watts, Anne-Marie McDermott, and Jon Kimura Parker; the violists Roberto Díaz and Cynthia Phelps; and the Pacifica Quartet.

Violinist James Ehnes, known for his virtuosity and probing musicianship, has performed in over 30 countries on five continents, appearing regularly in the world’s great concert halls and with many of the most celebrated orchestras and conductors. Born in 1976, he began violin studies at age four, and at age nine became a protégé of the noted Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin. He studied with Sally Thomas at the Meadowmount School of Music and from 1993 to 1997 at The Juilliard School, winning the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music upon his graduation. Ehnes first gained national recognition in 1987 as winner of the Grand Prize in Strings at the Canadian Music Competition. The following year he won the First Prize in Strings at the Canadian Music Festival, the youngest musician ever to do so. At 13, he made his major orchestral solo debut with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. He has won numerous awards and prizes, including the first-ever Ivan Galamian Memorial Award, the Canada Council for the Arts’ Virginia Parker Prize, and a 2005 Avery Fisher Career Grant. James has been honored by Brandon University with a Doctor of Music degree (honoris causa) and in 2007 he became the youngest person ever elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada. In 2010 the Governor General of Canada appointed Ehnes a Member of the Order of Canada, and in 2013 he was named an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, limited to a select group of 300 living distinguished musicians.

Percussionist and educator Gabriel Globus-Hoenich will be in residence at Britt Music & Arts Festival for the 2015 season. Gabriel is one of the founders of Drumming for Social Change, an organization dedicated to researching and developing percussion based educational programming. Gabriel recently spent over five weeks studying Brazilian percussion in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil and researching how percussion and folkloric music can be used as conduit for social change. Gabriel also leads the 12 piece timba band GGH and The People of Earth for whom he composes, arranges, and plays percussion.

Morgan James discovered her passion for music early on and pursued it wholeheartedly at the Juilliard School. While in the midst of the institution’s rigorous academic program, she soon realized that her path would diverge from the classical world. After graduating, James spent the next few years facing the struggles of being a young artist in New York. Immersed in classic sixties and seventies soul records, she concurrently experienced a pivotal revelation. In 2008, James booked her first Broadway show, appearing in The Addams Family, followed by prominent and leading roles in Wonderland, Godspell, and Berry Gordy’s Motown: The Musical as Teena Marie. The latter set the stage for her to properly launch her solo recording career. Her debut album Morgan James Live, released in 2012, was a celebration of the legendary Nina Simone. Her first full-length studio album, Hunter, followed in 2014.

Jeremy Kittel has earned a reputation as one of the most exceptional violinists and fiddlers of his generation. With tremendous musicality, a rare mastery of styles as diverse as jazz, Scottish and Irish fiddle, bluegrass, classical music, and more, a unique compositional voice, and an “exhilarating stage presence” (Strings magazine), Kittel inspires listeners and fans worldwide through his solo work and collaborations. As a leader, he performs with his own Jeremy Kittel Band, as well as in intimate duo and trio formats, and also as a soloist with orchestras. In collaboration, he is frequently called upon by some of today’s most influential and vibrant artists in a variety of genres, including My Morning Jacket, Jars of Clay, Mark O’Connor, Abigail Washburn, Camera Obscura, Bela Fleck and many more. He also recently completed a five-year full time position in the Grammy-winning Turtle Island String Quartet.

Founded in 1978 and led by Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa, the San Francisco Girls Chorus has become a regional center for choral music education and performance for girls and young women ages 5-18. Four hundred singers from all nine Bay Area counties participate in this internationally recognized program, deemed “a model in the country for training girls’ voices” by the California Arts Council. The organization consists of a professional level performance, recording and touring ensemble; the four-level Chorus School training program; and a Preparatory Chorus for 5-7 year olds. The discipline, teamwork and concentration young girls learn in chorus rehearsals and performances instill in them the values necessary for high achievement in music and in life. For the August 2 performance, 30 members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus will perform.

Sixth Floor Trio features Britt’s own Teddy Abrams on piano and clarinet, Harrison Hollingsworth playing bassoon and violin, Johnny Teyssier on clarinet, and, for this performance, special guest Gabriel Globus-Hoenich on drums. The Sixth Floor Trio formed when the members were all at the Curtis Institute of Music, and they’re dedicated to music that connects different styles and artistic disciplines. The Trio received a substantial grant in 2011 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to present “Random Acts of Culture” across the United States. These “Random Acts” led the Trio to collaborate with organizations such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Stanford University, the Akron Public Library, Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History, Greyhound, and the Ferry Terminal Marketplace in San Francisco in addition to showcasing the Trio at numerous malls, markets, transit centers, and airports around the country. Sixth Floor Trio’s debut performance took place in August 2009, when the group opened for and collaborated with Marvin Hamlisch. Following this successful beginning, the Trio performed at venues such as the Kennedy Center, the Kravis Center (Palm Beach), World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, the Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival, the FUZE! Series at the Akron Art Museum, the Living Room in New York City, and numerous other locations.

Aoife O’Donovan (pronounced “ee-fah”) is known for her ethereal vocals and substantive songwriting. Her powerful performances continue to garner her praise in the folk and roots music worlds. After graduating from the New England Conservatory she spent the better part of a decade as the lead singer and principal songwriter of Crooked Still, which grew into one of the world’s most acclaimed progressive string groups. She has collaborated with many other artists, including a role as vocalist on the Grammy-winning Goat Rodeo Sessions alongside Chris Thile, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan. In 2013, she released her solo debut, Fossils, which received critical acclaim and was declared a “must listen” by Rolling Stone. She is currently performing on a U.S. tour as part of a trio with Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz.

Contact information
For more information, for interview requests, or for photos, please contact Jean Shirk at or 510-332-4195, or visit