Beethoven Festival cooks up its 39th summer season
Indoor and outdoor concerts scheduled through August
- Artist Showcase Concert with pianist Doris Stevenson and cellist Jeffrey Solow, 3 p.m., Sunday, July 24, Park City Community Church, 4501 N./ S.R. 224, $35
- Chamber Concert in the Park, 6:15 p.m., Monday, July 25, City Park Grandstand, free
- Chamber Music at the Eccles Center with pianist John Jensen and cellist Lauren Posey. 3 p.m., Sunday, July 31, Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd. $35
- Chamber Concert in the Park, 6:15 p.m., Monday, Aug. 1, City Park Grandstand, free
- Virtuoso Concert Pianist Michael Gurt, 3 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 7, Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, $35
- Chamber Concert in the Park, 6:15 p.m., Monday, Aug. 8, City Park Grandstand, free
- An Evening of Beautiful Works by Johannes Brahams with pianist Michael Gurt, 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 13, at Park City Community Church, $35
- Chamber Concert in the Park, 6:15 p.m., Monday, Aug. 15, City Park Grandstand, free
- Chamber Concert in the Park, 6:15 p.m., Monday, Aug. 22, City Park Grandstand, free
The summer season of the Park City Beethoven Festival’s 39th season is a reunion of sorts, said festival founder and resident violist, Leslie Harlow.
“We are bringing in four of our veteran players — cellist Jeffrey Solow, pianists Doris Stevenson, Michael Gurt and John Jensen,” she said during an interview on Monday. “Michael was a first-year player, and Jeffrey has been with us from the beginning as well. Doris has been playing with us for nearly 40 years, and John came in during the third year.”
The festival, which kicked off with a free concert on Monday at City Park, will continue with a performance at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 24, at Park City Community Church. (See accompanying schedule).
Sunday’s concert will feature Solow and Stevenson performing a selection of virtuoso showpieces that they have performed on the East Coast and during the Bargemusic Concert Series in New York, according to Harlow.
“We are waiting to see what Jeff decides he wants to play on Sunday when he arrives later today,” she said. “He gave us a list of more pieces than we need.”
The concert, which will also feature Harlow on viola and her husband Russell Harlow on clarinet, will also include the Beethoven Op. 16 Piano Quartet, which is usually played by strings and piano or winds and piano. Some of the pieces that may not make it into Sunday’s performance could be performed Monday, July 25, during the Beethoven Festival’s second Chamber Music in the Park concert of the summer, Harlow said.
“We look forward to performing with Jeff and Doris because they have been with us from the start,” she said. “Doris has played so much in chamber music and has performed so much sonata work with other chamber players that she comes totally prepared, and she doesn’t overwhelm us by playing too loud.”
Solow, who has studied with Gregor Piatigorsky, has been a virtual cellist since he was very young, Harlow said.
He has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Japan Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the American Symphony.
“He brings a nice background of experience to us, and we enjoy playing with him,” Harlow said.
The Park City Beethoven Festival will continue on July 31 with Chamber Music at the Eccles Center, with the Harlows performing with pianist John Jensen, a founder of the Mirecourt Trio.
The night will feature Intermezzos by Brahms, the Clarinet Trio by Carl Fruhling, the Shostakovich Cello Sonata and solo piano works by Paul Reale, Leslie Harlow said.
“John is going to perform works he recently released on a recording,” she said.
Sunday’s concert will be followed by another Chamber Music in the Park on Aug. 1, Harlow said.
“We are also doing a total of six concerts with Mountain Town Music every Monday, and these performances are wonderful,” she said. “Outdoor concerts are popular with chamber concerts across the country, so we don’t take these concerts for granted.”
Concert goers are allowed to bring lawn chairs and picnics to these performances, Harlow said.
“They are just great for families, especially if people want to introduce children to chamber music,” she said. “One of the things we don’t do is change the program to appeal to children, because we want the children to hear and fall in love with the actual works.”
That philosophy works because Harlow can see children dancing to the music during these performances.
“The kids are also fascinated with our instruments, so it’s great to see how much the kids enjoy what we’re doing,” she said.
Pianist Michael Gurt, a Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition winner, will join the festival for an afternoon of virtuoso works of Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Prokofiev and Liszt on Aug. 7 at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts and Aug. 8 at City Park.
Gurt will also perform an all-Brahms concert with the Harlows on Saturday, Aug. 13, at Park City Community Church, said Russell Harlow.
“We are planning to perform all the ‘Handel Variations,’ Alto Songs for Clarinet, Viola and Piano, and Op. 40, the ‘Horn Trio,’ arranged for Piano, Viola and Clarinet,” he said. “We’ll do some monkeying around on these. For classical music fans, these are fairly familiar stuff, but we put our own color to them.”
Finding alternate arrangements of some of these classic works is part of the fun, Leslie Harlow said.
“The composers themselves did a lot of arrangements that would include viola and clarinet,” she said. “So we put them together.”
Sometimes, however, Harlow has had to do some of her own transcribing.
“I remember one time I thought it would be fairly easy, but I found myself in the early morning on the iPad transferring the music to the viola clefs,” she said with a laugh.
During the two weeks Gurt is in town, the Beethoven Festival will head to Weber State University to record all of the Brahams pieces for the ISOMIKE label, Harlow said.
ISOMIKE, founded by Ray Kimber of Kimber Kabel, is one of the leading audiophile companies in the world, and it is based in Ogden.
Recordings have been on Russell Harlow’s mind because he is in charge of curating, engineering and posting past recorded Beethoven Concerts on the Beethoven Festival’s YouTube channel.
“We have 20 years left of concerts to go through, at least,” he said. “It’s wonderful to go back and find them, because some of the artists aren’t with us anymore. So, we thought we should do what we should have been doing a long time ago, which is to take a week in the festival to do some recordings.”
The YouTube channel already features more than 110 concerts, said Leslie Harlow.
“It’s like a classical-music station in Park City,” she said.
Looking back at the past 39 years, Harlow is proud to say the mission of the Park City Beethoven Festival hasn’t changed.
“We’ve always tried to be as efficient as possible with funding and resources to perform as many chamber concerts as possible,” she said. “We try to fill this niche and make available these intimate performances in the manner that they were composed for.”
An anonymous donor’s $300,000 allows the Egyptian Theatre to offer its YouTheatre programs for free.
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