Like so many music festivals, iPalpiti was reduced to a slimmed-down, virtual version of itself last summer. But for its 24th season, which gets underway Thursday evening, the nonprofit sometimes called the “Musical Peace Corps” is returning to live performances — nine in all — which will take place at a variety of Southern California venues.
There will be some concessions to COVID-19: Audiences will be capped at 50-percent capacity, and seating will not be assigned in advance. But the 23 world-class, early-career musicians, who hail from 18 countries around the world, will again be performing in person under the leadership of Music Director Eduard Schmieder.
By returning to live performances ahead of many other music organizations, iPalpiti is “pioneering what we have preached from our founding in 1998,” said Festival Director Laura Schmieder.
Its mission, she said, is to “preserve traditions of great classical music, support exceptional talents,” encourage “unity and hope,” and promote the idea that “music is the spiritual factor which brings people together and unites them irrespective of religion and culture.”
Those lofty sentiments have run up against some harsher realities, as Laura Schmieder noted in a Facebook post. A number of the musicians have encountered problems entering the United States, she wrote, due to COVID-wary customs officials. (All the players are fully vaccinated.) In addition, several have reported being detained for hours because of suspicions they were transporting drugs in their instrument cases.
Fortunately, the music wins out in the end. The festival begins with three concerts at the Encinitas Library, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (July 15–17). The kickoff “Violin Extravaganza” will be followed on Friday by a recital featuring Korean violinist Jaewon Wee. A winner of The Juilliard School’s Concerto Competition, she will perform music by Schubert and Stravinsky with pianist Jacopo Giacopuzzi.
Giacopuzzi, a native of Italy and a Music Academy of the West alumnus who now lives in Santa Barbara, will also be featured in the July 17 program, which has solo piano music of Brahms, Rachmaninoff, and Gershwin, plus Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 1.
The full iPalpiti Orchestra, conducted by Eduard Schmieder, will perform two concerts: At 3 p.m. Sunday, July 18 at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center in La Jolla, and at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 24 in the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills. The program will include Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir d’un lieu cher (Memory of a dear place), with violin soloist Elvin Hoxha Ganiyev, and the West Coast premiere of Seascapes by composer Alexey Shor, a native of Kiev whose works have been performed at major venues in London, New York, Berlin, and Vienna.
Soloist for the Shor work will be violinist Samuel Nebyu, who was born in Hungary of Ethiopian-Jewish descent. The winner of major competitions in both Europe and the U.S., Nebyu has toured extensively with the soloist ensemble of the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation.
Additional concerts will take place in West Hollywood, Topanga, and Beverly Hills. The festival plans to return to Walt Disney Concert Hall for its 25th-anniversary season next summer.
Tickets, which are $36, are available at https://www.ipalpiti.org/ipalpiti-festival-2021/. For more information, call (301) 205-0511.