Park City Beethoven Festival adds some new movements to highlight its 37th year

Pamela Jones plays along with violist Leslie Harlow during a duet at the Beethoven Festival Concert in the Park at City Park Monday evening, August 15, 2016. Jones has been playing the piano since she was 7 years old. (Tanzi Propst/Park Record)
Park Record file photo by Tanzi Propst

What: Park City Beethoven Festival

When: July 7-Aug. 6

Where: Various venues in Park City, Moab and Ogden


Although the Park City Beethoven Festival is one of the longest running chamber music festivals in Utah, there is always room to expand, says clarinetist Russell Harlow, whose wife, Leslie, a violist, started the series in 1982.

This year the festival, which starts its summer season on Sunday, July 7, at Temple Har Shalom, will introduce a Thursday chamber music hour and performances in Moab and Ogden, Harlow said.

The Chamber Music Hour will be performed at Park City Community Church, Harlow said.

“We’ll perform an hour of chamber music, and the pieces we’ll play are somewhat a preview to the concerts we will play the following Sundays at Temple Har Shalom,” he said. “We’ll also throw in some other things like flashy solos and such in those Thursday shows.”

The festival’s Moab concert is set to be held July 18 at the Star Hall concert venue, and the Ogden performance will take place at the Eccles Conference Center in Ogden on Aug. 8, according to Harlow.

“The idea is to branch out and serve the whole Utah community instead of just focusing on the Wasatch Front and Back,” he said. “We will continue this with outreach in the fall and winter seasons.”

Other than those additions, Harlow says the Park City Beethoven Festival will continue to do what it does best — present beautiful, technically challenging pieces in an accessible setting.

“Classical and chamber music for us is a way of life,” he said. “It’s not a matter of being stuffy or proper. It’s a matter of presenting wonderful music for people to hear.”

Concerts are usually performed Sunday at Temple Har Shalom, except for two gala salon and dinner concerts that will be held at private homes on July 13, and Aug. 11. (See accompanying schedule).

Beethoven Festival musicians also perform free outdoor concerts on Monday at the City Park Grandstand, Harlow said.

“We’re very free with those concerts,” he said. “We play pieces that we have played throughout the year, and we also add some virtuoso works as well.”

Some of this year’s guest musicians include pianist Hisang Jon Tu, cellist Julie Bevan and pianist-harpsichordist Pamela Palmer Jones. (For a full roster, see accompanying list).

Tu was born in China and brought to the United States when he was a child. He taught music at Utah Valley University and performed during the fall session of the Park City Beethoven Festival last year, Harlow said.

“He is a fantastic pianist to work with,” he said. “Jon has this incredible technique, and at the same time he can picks up on the other musicians’ ideas and quickly adjust to what they are doing.”

Bevan is a “marvelous cellist,” Harlow said.

“She’s from Salt Lake, and the went to USC to study with Gregor Piatigorsky, one of the great cellists of the 20th century,” he said. “She’ll be working with us on several concerts.”

Harlow and his wife regularly perform Pamela Palmer Jones in a trio, he said.

“Pam teaches at the University of Utah, and we enjoy working with her,” Harlow said.

The summer season will end with a special performance by pianist Stephen Beus on Aug. 16, at Park City Community Church.

Beus, who is an assistant professor at Brigham Young University, is the winner of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, as well as the Vendome Prize International Competition in Lisbon.

“He’ll perform a program that he will take to Europe in the months following,” Harlow said.

Harlow, who is also the Park City Beethoven Festival’s music archivist, said he and his wife don’t plan to slow down anytime soon.

“We have a rich archive of recordings that reach back to 1988 on our website, and there are hundreds more that we want to upload,” he said. “So, we are planning to do this as long as we can.”


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