A note from the Artistic Director:

Benjamin Burgdorf

 

The Oskaloosa Music Festival's (OMF) goal has two simple components. First, bring professional musicians from across the country to Oskaloosa to put on high quality, high energy concerts in a variety of contexts so that there is something for everyone to enjoy and discover. Second, provide unique musical educational opportunities to local students.

This is achieved through two weeks of activities based in Oskaloosa. The first week, "Mahaska Masterworks," is filled with world-class performances by the OMF Chamber Players. These are professional performers and educators who come from across the country to share their talents on the town square, in children's concerts, at an informal jam at Smokey Row, and a formal recital at the First Presbyterian Church.

The second week, the "String Chamber Music Camp," offers a more in depth study of chamber music for interested middle and high school students in the Oskaloosa, Pella, and Ottumwa school districts. The 9am to 3pm day camp is led by a faculty ensemble of full-time string performers and educators. You can learn more about our performers and faculty on the "OMF Chamber Players" link.

 

OMF, originally known as the "Oskaloosa Chamber Music Festival," blossomed from a very simple idea I had in the Spring of 2010. I wanted to bring my college music friends back to my hometown to put on some concerts of this new music that I fell in love with upon moving to Minneapolis to study viola. That music was chamber music, primarily the string quartet, and I wanted to share it with the community that gave me my musical roots.

 

It took moving away from Oskaloosa to realize how unique and strong Oskaloosa's musical culture is. I learned that many of my music colleagues came from much larger, urban areas, yet they spoke of very small, struggling high school music programs. I had the benefit of learning from Oskaloosa school district's thriving orchestral, band, and choral program. The community also has its own wholly unique musical heritage which allowed me to grow up around a Municipal Band, Symphony Orchestra and Community Choir. It is from the appreciation of these two influential forces (music in the school and in the community) that the Oskaloosa Music Festival was born. I want to share my love of chamber music with the students of my high school alma mater, the teachers that fostered my, and many others', musical growth and the community that supports these students and programs that are so rare for a town of this size.

 

None of this would be possible if it were not for a handful of supportive individuals during the formative years. First, that initial group of then-college musicians that took a chance in 2010 when I asked them to come put on some concerts. They planted the seed that has since taken root. Second, my parents who have fed and allowed their home to be turned into a rehearsal space to dozens of artists over the years. Third, Bob Auld and the Oskaloosa Symphony Association for showing up to that first concert and giving their support to continue the festival beyond just year one. Next, Bruce McLellan and the Oskaloosa Music Department for coordinating educational activities for local students. And finally, you, the community of Oskaloosa, for filling the house year after year, supporting the festival with your attendance and dollars, showing us that yes, this is a part of what makes Oskaloosa a great place to live! It is all of these things that allows OMF to fulfill it's mission...

 

Mission:

To provide entertainment and education to the local students and public by means of exposure to some of the greatest, yet widely unknown, art music from the 18th to the 21st centuries. By exposing students to this repertoire, the Oskaloosa Music Festival hopes to inspire a life in the pursuit of music, not necessarily as a career path, but as a means to develop necessary skills such as work ethic, goal setting, group collaboration, and self-expression. And the most important part of the entire festival…having fun making music together!