In 1974, the bucolic, Southern Vermont town of Manchester welcomed an impressive newcomer: The Southern Vermont Arts Center Music Festival. Founders and long-time summer residents, violinist Carroll Glenn and pianist Eugene List, long imagined the strains of classical music echoing through the rolling hills. Drawing from their extensive network of colleagues, these illustrious musicians organized a six-week, summer chamber music festival. Their Young Concert Artists Program provided an opportunity for world-renowned musicians to teach and perform with Young Artists.
Glenn and List understood the importance of nurturing young talent. At the age of eleven, Glenn’s family moved to Manhattan, where she studied with Edouard DÈthier at Juilliard. Graduating four years later, she enrolled in their master’s program.
Her first brush with fame, however, was not through music. In January of 1943, her parents’ New York apartment caught fire. Luckily, Glen escaped with her violin. As she ran barefoot to safety, a neighbor lent her shoes. The next morning her picture appeared on the front page of the local paper with a caption describing the hysterical, young musician, running from the inferno. In truth, she was laughing because the borrowed shoes were so big they kept falling off.
But her real fame came from her virtuosity as a musician. By the age of 21, she had won four prestigious awards: Naumburg Violin Competition, Schubert Memorial, National Federation of Music Clubs, and Town Hall Young Artist Award. During her career, she played under the baton of such esteemed conductors as Eugene Ormandy, Dmitri Mitropoulos, and Pierre Monteux, performing with the world’s major orchestras. In 1943, she married pianist Eugene List. Just after the war, the two embarked on a U.S. State Department tour of Europe, concertizing together regularly over the years. By the age of 42, Glenn had appeared as a soloist with leading symphony orchestras over 90 times. In 1981, she traveled to the People’s Republic of China for her last concert tour. Two years later she succumbed to brain cancer.
Eugene List’s talent rivaled that of his wife. Deemed a prodigy by his teacher, Julius Seyler, at the age of 12, he appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. At the suggestion of conductor Artur Rodzinski, he began studying with Olga Samaroff at the Philadelphia Conservatory, later attending Juilliard. Winner of Philadelphiaís annual piano competition, sixteen-year-old List performed Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in c minor with the orchestra, learning the repertoire in six weeks. His stunning performance earned him the esteem of conductor Leopold Stokowski. The following year, he debuted with the New York Philharmonic.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, List joined the army. In 1945, he was shipped to a suburb of Paris, where he met violinist Stuart Canin. The two organized the Seventh Army Symphony, performing for President Truman, Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill at the Potsdam Conference. Dubbed the “Pianist of the Presidents,” List performed many times at the White House over the years.
After the war, his career took off. He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and in the film The Bachelor’s Daughter, performed in concerts with most of the major orchestras and conductors in the country, and held teaching positions at Eastman, New York University, and Carnegie Mellon. During a post-war European tour with Glenn, they founded the American Music Center in Berlin. But he is best known for his Monster Concerts in which ten or more pianos were played by two pianists each. In 1985, at the age of 66, he passed away, breaking his neck in a fall down the stairs of his N.Y. brownstone.
Upon his death, Michael Rudiakov took over the Manchester festival. List and Glenn had met the gifted cellist in China during the summer of 1981, when the three played a concerto with the Beijing and Shanghai Symphonies. In 1983, they asked him to manage the festival.
Paris-born Rudiakov grew up in Israel, where he studied with his father, pianist Eliahu Rudiakov. Winning a scholarship to Manhattan School of Music, he studied with Beaux Arts Trio cellist, Bernard Greenhouse. Six weeks after his arrival in New York, he appeared on The Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour, performing “The Bee.” Before he could finish, the audience broke into wild applause, wowed by his virtuosity.
In 1964, he accepted a position as principal cellist with the Indianapolis Symphony. Here he met his future wife, music teacher Judith Peck. Within a year, the two married and the following year they celebrated the birth of their son, Ariel. Michael’s next career move was back to Israel. Principal cellist of the Jerusalem Symphony, Rudiakov toured Europe, often performing with his father. But after a year, the trio returned to the U.S., where Michael taught cello and chamber music at Sarah Lawrence College, directing their chamber music series and performing with the Grammy-nominated Composers’ String Quartet.
As Artistic Director of the festival, he expanded the program. In 1983, the Rudiakovs purchased a large home on Seminary Avenue, which served as their residence, Young Artists’ dormitory and festival headquarters. Ari, now in college at SUNY Purchase, assisted his father in the operation of the festival and Lisa, 16, baked brownies for the Young Artists’ concerts. Soon, the organization outgrew the Rudiakov House, moving their headquarters to the second floor of the Healy House on Center Hill and later to The Village School House on Dillingham.
As the festival grew, so did the Rudiakov family. After graduate school at Yale and then the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana, Ari continued performing, conducting, and administering the festival. The summer of 1998, the charismatic, young violist greeted a new crop of Young Artists. Among them was a Bulgarian violinist, Joana Genova, who attended the Conservatory of Amsterdam, performed with the Sinfonietta, and studied with Professor Samuel Thaviu in Chicago. Before long, she joined the faculty and then the family, marrying Ari in 2001. Sadly, Michael Rudiakov was not there to see the couple wed. On November 17, 2000, he succumbed to a heart attack.
Like his father, Ari’s primary love was chamber music. As a member of the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana’s Alea String Quartet, young Rudiakov toured and competed frequently. His other passion, conducting, was realized when became Music Director and Conductor of the Danbury Symphony Orchestra.
Under Ari’s leadership, the festival flourished. He and Joana continued to play with the Brooklyn Philharmonic. Ari taught at the Manhattan School of Music, managed the festival, and conducted on weekends. Joana accepted a position as Artistic Associate at Williams College, took on the responsibility of MMF Education Director, and continued to perform. Soon the two purchased a home in Manchester, where they could raise their family ñ son, Michael, and daughter, Liliana. At the festival, rising stars in the music world took the place of illustrious musicians from the early days. The passing of pianist Shoshana Rudiakov and violinists Eudice Shapiro and Felix Galimir ushered in a new rÈgime. Violinist Jaime Laredo; pianists Adam Neiman, Vassily Primakov, and Michael Brown; and cellists Sharon Robinson and Yehuda Hanani set the stage on fire and inspired the Young Artists, just as their predecessors had.
In 2017, renowned pianist, Grammy award nominee, and faculty member at Roosevelt University, Adam Neiman assumed leadership of the festival, ushering in a new era. The best is yet to come!