Marlboro’s annual seven-week season takes place from late June through mid-August on the campus of Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vermont. Marlboro is not a typical school or festival. There is no faculty, no formal curriculum in the usual sense, no regular orchestra or soloists, and no private lessons. Instead, the focus is on advanced artistic development and the intensive, collaborative exploration of chamber music. The Marlboro program is led by Artistic Directors Mitsuko Uchida and Jonathan Biss in consultation with a committee of resident senior artists.
Marlboro participants are emerging professional concert artists, symphony orchestra members, chamber music artists, and, in rare instances, exceptionally gifted conservatory or university students. The musicians are expected to be in residence for the full seven-week season and to be available to rehearse any day of the week—studying and rehearsing works in great depth from the vast chamber music repertoire with primary concern for the music itself. The program includes informal musical gatherings, workshops and seminars, and other social gatherings. After three weeks of rehearsals, five weekends of public concerts are held as an outgrowth of the ongoing study program. The concerts include just a small portion of the many works that are explored each week, and no participant is assured of performing.
Generally, there are 75 to 80 musicians in residence each season. Most of the instrumentalists are emerging professionals in their 20s; vocal participants are sometimes slightly older. Applicants younger than 18 years of age are not usually accepted.
Marlboro provides considerable fellowship support to help cover room, board, and other costs. However, participants are expected to contribute some amount toward these expenses; exact amounts are determined on the basis of individual financial need. Participants are not paid to perform.
The works rehearsed at Marlboro are selected from requests submitted by the participating musicians. They encompass a wide chamber music repertoire including new music by resident composers. Only a limited number of the works studied can be performed at the weekend or at informal concerts. Therefore, while each participant has an active rehearsal schedule, no one is assured of performing. Participants should attend for the purpose of intensive learning and artistic development.
Only Marlboro participants perform in the concerts—no outside artists are engaged. Typically, concert programs are not planned or announced before the summer but are instead selected a week or so in advance from the many works studied and prepared throughout the season. Marlboro artists are not paid to perform, and all ticket revenue (which comprises less than 15% of the annual budget) helps to support the educational program.
Marlboro participants live in dormitories on campus and are provided with all meals, which are held in a common dining room and allow for further interactions and a greater sharing of ideas. Due to limited space, overnight guests on campus are not permitted (except for spouses and partners with advance permission). There is also a restriction against having pets on campus. Permission is necessary prior to any participant’s making arrangements to live off-campus, or to have guests at meals. All Marlboro musicians, family, and staff assist at meals and with community functions.
Each summer, the Festival forms a closely-knit community of exceptionally talented musicians, spouses, and staff who come together in an environment that is highly conducive to intensive learning. Free from the limitations of typical professional concert life, musicians at Marlboro have extensive time—under the guidance of outstanding master artists—to rehearse in great depth, to share ideas and experiences, to explore a rich diversity of chamber music works, and to participate in special workshops on musical and other cultural topics. Marlboro is a non-profit institution that relies on annual grants and contributions to balance its budget.