Beethoven Festival fills a weekend with chamber music
The Park City Beethoven Festival will be in full swing as a group of world-renowned musicians perform three concerts this weekend.
The first concert, a gala salon performance that will start at 6 p.m. in a local private home, will feature award-winning pianist Hsiang John Tu, violinist Blanka Bednarz and Beethoven Festival founders and resident artists, Leslie Harlow on viola and Russell Harlow on clarinet.
Tu, a Taiwan native who has a master’s degree and a doctorate from the Juilliard School, will spotlight a collection of piano music inspired by animals that will start with Leopold Godowsky’s transcription of Saint Saens’ “Swan” from “Animal Carnival,” and continue into a piece by Debussy called “Goldfish.”
“Debussy was inspired by a Japanese wood print he owned,” Tu said.
The performance will also include two rags — “Tabby Cat Walk” and “The Serpent’s Kiss” — by American composer William Bolcom.
“Towards the end of ‘Tabby Cat,’ Bolcom’s music portrays how the cat loses concentration and falls asleep, which is pretty funny,” said Tu, a former Utah Valley University music teacher who will start working as assistant professor in piano at Virginia Tech in the fall.
“The Serpent’s Kiss” is one of four rags Bolcom wrote about the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, according to Tu.
“It’s a big show piece, and I get to stomp on the floor, whistle and do some different things like that,” he said.
Bednarz, an associate instructor of violin at the University of Utah, will join the performance that will include works by Astor Piazzolla and George and Ira Gershwin, Tu said.
The evening, which will feature an opportunity drawing and food catered by Mindful Cuisine and Park City Creamery, will continue with Tu and Russell Harlow performing two pieces — “Rhapsody” for Clarinet and Piano by Debussy and the Beethoven-composed “Variations on a Theme of Mozart,” which is based on the “Don Giovanni” aria.
Leslie Harlow will perform on a Schumann trio called “Märchenbilder,” which translates to “Fairy Tales.”
“The piece is lyrical and travels around a lot,” Harlow said. “The melodies fit together through little pieces performed by the instruments, and there is a lot of contrast between the evil fairy tales and light fairy tales.”
Saturday’s gala will also kick off an opportunity drawing that will last throughout the summer, Harlow said.
The prizes include olive-oil baskets and floral arrangements by Every Blooming Thing, and some visual art, according to Harlow.
Sunday’s concert that will start at 4 p.m. at Temple Har Shalom will be essentially the same music, with the addition of two bird-inspired works, Tu said.
One of the works is an excerpt from Messiaen’s larger work called “The Catalog of Birds,” and the other is called “Maiden and the Nightingale” by Spanish composer Enrique Granados.
The music is from a series of pieces called “Goyescas” that were inspired by the paintings of romanticist Spanish artist Francisco Goya, Tu said.
The Sunday concert and the others to come in the following weeks are performed in a casual setting, Harlow said.
“People can come and mingle and help themselves to the food, wine, and cheese buffet before we start to perform,” she said.
Harlow said Temple Har Shalom is a good venue for chamber music.
“We sit the audience all around us, and there are a lot of windows that look out to some wonderful scenery,” she said.
The next performance will be a free concert at 6 p.m. on Monday at City Park, which always draws a crowd, Harlow said.
“Last Monday, we had about 200 people come and enjoy the performance,” she said. “It’s really fun to perform in the park, because people can bring picnics and have a great time hearing some beautiful music.”
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Fans of “Sudan and Me,” a musical written, produced and performed in Park City, can now purchase an album of the production’s songs.