Over the next two weeks, musicians will be taking over Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden for the third annual GardenMusic Festival. During the day, visitors to the garden can listen in on artists’ outdoor rehearsals. Some of the musicians may even pop up from the bushes and give a surprise performance. In the evening, visitors can experience concerts under the stars.
“Musicians are there filling the entire space with music,” said Teddy Abrams, co-founder and co-director of the festival.
Fairchild’s GardenMusic Festival brings diverse and exciting chamber music to the garden. The festival features a variety of genres, from folk music to Latin jazz.
In 2011, Jennifer Stearns Buttrick, an attorney and member of Fairchild’s Board of Trustees, wanted to bring a winter concert series to Fairchild. She teamed up with Abrams, who is also a conductor, pianist and composer, and the result was GardenMusic.
“The festival provides visitors an experience that is beyond music — they’re visiting the gardens and experiencing musical collaborations,” Buttrick said.
Collaboration is what this music festival is all about.
Abrams, along with Harrison Hollingsworth and Johnny Teyssier, members of the Sixth Floor Trio, are the artistic directors of GardenMusic. They’ve gathered a group of diverse musicians and vocalists who work well together and aren’t afraid to experiment with music.
“The first thing we looked for in the artists was openness and willingness to see what the festival can become and what we can create together,” Abrams said. “The best thing about last year’s festival was that we had great energy and excitement with people pushing themselves and growing as musicians. That doesn’t happen so often.”
For Abrams and Buttrick, combining classical and experimental chamber music with the garden in winter made sense.
“The evenings have been beautiful and the settings are magical,” Buttrick said. “Fairchild is like a renaissance garden. Music and the garden seem to go together.”
Jeremy Kittel, a violinist and fiddler who is on an international tour with his group, the Jeremy Kittel Band, is performing at GardenMusic for the second time. He said he is excited to be working with the artists who will be performing at the festival and that the venue is perfect.
“It’s the best of both worlds. You have this wonderful, peaceful evening in this heavenly garden, and at the same time, the stage setup and sound amplification is so high-quality, you think you’re in a concert hall,” Kittel said. “It’s a high-caliber operation.”
Kittel looks forward to connecting with the audience and sharing a variety of music that he hopes will be impactful to them.
“Another cool thing is that the music will range from some of the great classical repertoire combined with songs by contemporary artists, and there’s a wonderful mixing of music from modern-day and the past,” Kittel said.
Some highlights from the event:
▪ Opening concert, Jan. 9: Showcases the talents of GardenMusic’s resident artists and will feature award-winning folk musicians Kittel and Aoife O’Donovan, a vocalist and songwriter.
▪ Jan. 11: Concert explores the sacred, profane and spiritual, from Jewish mysticism in Osvaldo Golijov’s The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind to devils and witches in Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz and Berlioz’s Symphony Fantastique.
▪ Jan. 17: An experimental concert that features old and new tunes and shows how music has been revitalized and expanded upon.
▪ Closing night, Jan. 18: Features a concert by Tiempo Libre, a Miami-based group of classically trained musicians who perform a mix of R&B, pop, jazz and Cuban songs.
▪ Children’s concerts will take place Jan. 10 and Jan. 17.
Other featured artists include Tiempo Libre, Lily Francis, a violinist and violist who has performed with several leading orchestras in Germany; Gabriel Globus-Hoenich, a jazz drummer and co-founder of Drumming for Social Change, a community engagement organization that develops percussion-based educational programming; and Sebastian Chang, a pianist and composer whose original compositions have been performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Tokyo Symphony.
“Music should be available to anyone,” Abrams said. “There should never be a barrier to entry.”
If you go
What: The third annual GardenMusic Festival
Where: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables
When: Concerts take place Jan. 9 through Jan. 18; Children’s concerts will take place Jan. 10 and 17 at 10:30 a.m. (gates open at 9:30 a.m.)
Cost: Ticket prices start at $5.
For more information: For a full list of concert dates and themes, performers and prices, visit Fairchild’s website at www.fairchildgarden.org/events-community-outreach/gardenmusic-festival.