June 19-July 2: 17th annual St. Augustine Music Festival at Cathedral Basilica

Each year, the Cathedral Basilica comes alive during the last two weeks in June with six FREE concerts of World Class Music in the beautiful and acoustically superior Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, Florida. Founded by Jorge A. Pena and Jin Kim-Pena in 2007, the St. Augustine Music Festival (SAMF) has grown over the years, recognized as a summer musical gem in St. Augustine and the largest FREE classical/chamber music festival in the USA.

For the third consecutive year, SAMF will offer also a seventh performance, the Juneteenth Recognition Concert on Monday, June 19, with the Ritz Chamber Players and featuring Ann Marie McPhail singing spirituals and music from composers of African descent.  Reviews quote the following: “While she excels in singing classical music, she is also supremely skillful in her heart-rending interpretations of the negro spiritual.”

The official 2023 Music Festival program begins on Friday, June 23. Featured artist Yukino Miyake, pianist, will perform on the Mastriani piano, a 1917 Steinway Grand piano donated to SAMF in 2022.  The Summer Night Music program will also feature singer Ann Marie McPhail

The Saturday, June 24 performance will introduce the “First of three B” composers – Johann Sebastian Bach during the Baroque Night concert.  In addition to Bach, the other composers featured during the evening include Samuel Coleridge Taylor, and Felix Mendelssohn.

Concluding the first weekend on Sunday, June 25, A Night of Romance theme will star the “Second of three B” composers – Johannes Brahms.  Other composers on the program include Richard Strauss and Ernő Dohnányi.

Dedicated to the Cathedral Basilica, An Organ and Brass Concert will fill the air on Friday, June 30.  A brass quintet will join organist Tim Tuller, Canon for Music at St. John’s Cathedral in Jacksonville, on the magnificent Casavant organ.  They will perform a variety of pieces and conclude with The Great Gate of Kiev from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. 

Musical Metamorphosis is the theme for the Saturday, July 1 concert featuring composers Osvaldo Golijov, Richard Strauss and John Adams.  The changes in musical structure will be observed with the three compositions presented.

A Night with Nigel, the final concert of the season on Sunday, July 2 will highlight the “Third of three B” composers – Ludwig van Beethoven and music from Joseph Haydn.  The featured Artist Nigel Armstrong, violinist, is a perennial favorite of the audience during our concerts.

Concerts performances begin at 7:30 PM at the Cathedral Basilica on the Plaza de la Constitución in downtown St. Augustine.  For more information on the programs and to reserve your FREE tickets, visit www.SAMFestival.org or call 904-342-5175.

Additional information about the St. Augustine Music Festival

Founded in 2007 by Jacksonville Symphony musicians and current Artistic Directors Jorge Pena, Viola, and Jin Kim-Pena, Cello, SAMF is celebrating its 17th season in 2023.  The annual concerts take place in the historic Cathedral Basilica during the last two weeks in June.  The Artistic Directors invite internationally accomplished performers and young rising stars to its series roster.  Musicians from the Jacksonville Symphony complement the visiting musicians in the Chamber Orchestra.


This year there will be several highlights.  On Friday, June 23, the 1917 Steinway-Mastriani Grand Piano will be introduced to the general public during a concert with pianist Yokino Miyake.  This piano was donated to SAMF during the fall of 2022 by the family of Paul Mastriani.  Though the family lived in Schenectady, New York, the piano resided in Treasure Island, where the family had a second residence.  Paul Mastriani was a jazz musician and composer, though worked professionally as a stenographer.  He was quoted as saying “It’s beyond liking, I loved it; it’s something I have to do.”

The piano is a 1917 Model A Steinway Grand piano.  It is in excellent condition with all original parts having been rebuilt and restored in 2007, the same year SAMF was founded. The piano was moved to the Waterworks Building, home of the St. Johns Cultural Council, where it will remain and become available for other county arts organizations to share at this location.

An Organ and Brass Concert

Along with a brass quintet, the concert on June 30 with feature the Casavant organ, while celebrating the outstanding acoustical qualities, beauty, and historical architecture of the Cathedral Basilica.  This concert is dedicated to the Cathedral Basilica, honoring their partnership as we begin our 17th season of St. Augustine Music Festival Concerts in this beautiful and sacred space.  And it is to thank the clergy and parishioners for their generous hospitality over the years.   The guest organist, Tom Tiller, is the Canon for Music at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Jacksonville.

A Night with Nigel

Nigel Armstrong, Violin, will be featured during the final concert on Sunday, July 2.   Nigel has appeared numerous seasons with the St. Augustine Music Festival and is a perennial favorite of the audience.  He is concertmaster and First Violin with the Santa Cruz Symphony.

Nigel Armstrong is emerging as a dynamic and creative artist both within and beyond the realm of classical music. From his musical beginnings as a member of “The Little Fiddlers” in Sonoma, CA to collaborations with tango musicians in Argentina he’s enjoyed using the violin in a versatile manner throughout his life.  As a soloist, Nigel has performed with orchestras such as Dusserldorf Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, YOA Orchestra of the Americas and te Boston Pops, and with conductors including Sir Neville Marriner and Carlos Miguel Prieto.  As  Nigel is a chamber musician, his concerts have taken him across the United States and abroad including opportunities to share the stage with the Tokyo String Quartet and pianist Johathan Biss.

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