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Myra Melford.jpg: Myra Melford with her quintet, Snowy Egret, showcases her daring compositions on closing night of The Deer Isle Jazz Festival, August 4th at the Stonington Opera House. Photo courtesy of Opera House Arts.


Stonington – Tickets are on sale and going quickly for the 18th Annual Deer Isle Jazz Festival. A staple of the island’s summer programming, the Deer Isle Jazz Festival has been breaking boundaries, enriching the state’s cultural life, and filling the summer air with beautiful music since 2001. World-class jazz musicians and fans from all over the New England region travel Down East to spend an evening together in our intimate and acoustically charmed Stonington Opera House.

This summer, the festival features two nights of performances at the Stonington Opera House, curated by award-winning music critic and journalist Larry Blumenfeld.

On Friday August 3rd, pianist David Virelles performs in duo with acclaimed master percussionist Román Díaz for a concert soaked in Afro-Cuban folkloric tradition as re-imagined for the 21st century. The influence of Cuban musicians on jazz in the U.S. is more powerful than ever, and it fosters thrilling new forms. Pianist David Virelles absorbed Afro-Cuban cultural traditions in his native Santiago, Cuba, attended the island’s storied classical conservatories, and then fell in love with jazz masters such as Bud Powell, and Thelonious Monk. Ever since, he’s mined the connections between these legacies. The legendary Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés calls Virelles “a genius,” and most critics in New York City, where Virelles now lives, agree. His frequent collaborator is Román Díaz, a master percussionist from Havana and mentor to many younger musicians (including Pedrito Martinez), Díaz, is one of Afro-Cuban music’s greatest innovators and a pillar of the New York City’s creative-music scene, a holder of potent knowledge and a musicians of rare skills.

Through chants, rhythms and brilliant pianism, come explore new musical territory grounded in jazz, chamber music and Afro-Cuban tradition.

“With piano and percussion, David Virelles and Román Díaz reveal how deep traditions get transmitted from one musician to another and across generations,” said founding festival curator Larry Blumenfeld. “And together, these two musicians forge new connections with jazz and modern improvisation, extending a long history of cross-cultural creation.”

In keeping with an important tradition of the Deer Isle Jazz Festival, the Friday night concert features an opening set by George Stevens Academy elite jazz combo, Quinn and the Tuplettes, directed by Steve Orlofsky, with musicians Erika Hipsky, Sophia Steinbarger, Elana Williamson, Nellie Haldane, Isla Brownlow, and Quinn Stabler.

Then, on Saturday August 4thMyra Melford’s Snowy Egret quintet takes the Opera House stage. For more than two decades, Myra Melford has been among jazz’s most accomplished and daring pianists and composers. Her career has been defined by a restless curiosity, an openness to collaboration, and a highly personal style that incorporates such wide-ranging influences as Chicago blues, Zen Buddhism and the “organic philosophy” of Frank Lloyd Wright. Her music for Snowy Egret is informed by vernacular American musical idioms—blues, jazz, Latin dance rhythms—to suggest the music of the Americas while creating new hybrid forms in the spirit of the American Experimentalists.

Join Melford and her quintet mates—guitarist Liberty Ellman, bassist Stomu Takeishi, trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and drummer Gerald Cleaver (all acclaimed leaders themselves)—for music The Wall Street Journal calls, “lean, lithe and unusually appealing.”

“Myra Melford is a singular musician,” Blumenfeld remarks. “Her music extends a long tradition in jazz of distinctive and personal music that builds its own community of players.”

The Saturday night concert will have special opening set with a fascinating backstory. Drummer Joseph Boulet is a graduate of the George Stevens Academy who last appeared on the Opera House stage in the 2015 Jazz Festival as part of the GSA opening act. At that concert, Boulet connected with acclaimed multi-insrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum, who was performing with Dafnis Prieto’s headlining act. The two have become close friends and collaborators. Now, three years later, they bring a special set to the stage in a collaboration born on this very Stonington Opera House stage.

“When world-class musicians come to our community and meet our local talent, this is exactly what you want to see happen,” says OHA’s Interim Artistic Director Peter Richards. “We have a wealth of gifted young artists in the area, and we’re incredibly proud to have them perform on our stage.”

When You Go

Tickets for the Deer Isle Jazz Festival are available for $25, $30 or $40, and can be purchased online, by phone, or in person at the Opera House Box Office, at the corner of Main and School Streets at the base of the commercial fish pier in downtown Stonington (Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.).

Programs sell out and advance ticket purchases are strongly recommended. To purchase tickets online, or for further information and a full schedule of events, including ticket prices and OHA’s “Island Students Free” policy, visit the Opera House online at

About Opera House Arts

Opera House Arts, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was originally established to restore the historic Stonington Opera House, on the National Register of Historic Places, to its original role as a center for performance and a community gathering space. Now in its 18th year, OHA produces live theatre, music and dance in both the Stonington Opera House, and on our second stage, the restored Burnt Cove Church Community Center.

Opera House Arts’ high quality, original, professional performance programs serve all of Hancock County’s winter and summer residents and visitors, of all ages, with special emphasis on the residents and students of Deer Isle and the Blue Hill Peninsula. We offer a full year-round schedule of professional theatre, film, educational programs, digital media, concerts, and community events.

OHA is an unique organization. Many of our audiences know us as a professional theatre presenting plays, concerts and family programming in the summer – and indeed we are that, but we are also so much more. As soon as the calendar turns the page from August to September, we dive back into the other half of our identity: as a civic gathering space rooted in the belief that access to and participation in the arts can change lives.










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