Park City Beethoven Festival prepares to send off summer with three performances
What: Pianist Stephen Beus
When: 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 16
Where: Park City Community Church, 4501 N. S.R 224
Cost: $20 to $25
The Park City Beethoven Festival will wrap up its 2019 summer season with a lineup of concerts featuring Brahms, Milhaud and Stamitz.
The first concert will be at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10, at Park City Community Church. The second will be a free concert at 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 12, in City Park, and the last will be a solo piano recital by Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition winner Stephen Beus, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 16, at Park City Community Church.
The first two concerts will be full chamber performances featuring violinist Rebekah Johns, cellist Julie Bevan, pianist John Jenson, festival founder Leslie Harlow on viola and her husband, Russell, on clarinet, Harlow said.
Harlow selected the works — “Brahms Piano Quartet in C Minor,” “Milhaud Trio for Violin, Clarinet and Piano” and “Stamitz Quartet for Violin, Clarinet, Viola and Cello” — based on who would perform them. The Brahms piece is filled with solos that would highlight the talent of Johnson, who received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Juilliard, according to Harlow.
“Rebekah is an elegant player, but also a great soloist, and the Brahms is filled with incredible violin solos,” she said. “It also includes a duet for viola and violin.”
The piece also features a movement that starts with a cello solo, and Harlow felt it was a perfect match for Bevan, a Utah native who received earned her master’s at the University of Southern California.
“This piece was a natural piece to choose for this group because of the beauty,” Harlow said.
The piece has a complicated love story behind it.
“Brahms was a protege of Robert Schumann, and he was in love with Robert’s wife, Clara, who was also a composer and pianist,” she said. “Brahms wrote the gorgeous second movement of this piece in honor of Clara, and the music goes around with duets and trios.”
Harlow selected the Milhaud piece, meanwhile, because it gives Jensen a chance to shine. Jensen received his musical training in Southern California, studying with Gwendolyn Koldofsky and John Crown on piano and Ingolf Dahl and Halsey Stevens in composition, she said.
“John has great classical technique, but he is also a jazz pianist,” Harlow said. “The Milhaud has some jazz elements in it.”
The composition also gives Johnson an opportunity to take the spotlight with Jensen, Harlow said.
“Rebekah is also good and playing intricate and fast pieces,” she said. “So they, with Russ on clarinet, will show audiences just how vibrant a piece it is.”
The Stamitz work is new piece for everyone but the Harlows.
“We discovered it through the internet, and there are some websites that offer sheet music that we haven’t been able to get before,” Harlow said. “Those sites also feature performances we could listen to. I think we went through 23 pieces, before we selected this particular Stamitz.”
The work is a historical piece that few audiences have heard, she said.
“It features a virtuoso violin part, so having Rebekah play that with her amazing technique just made sense,” Harlow said.
Monday’s concert in the park will feature different parts of these works, as well as additional music chosen by the musicians, according to Harlow.
“John is a great sight reader, and he also has a photographic memory,” she said. “He’s also a great improviser, so when he’s playing jazz, he’ll throw in some classical shout outs as inside jokes for us.”
Speaking of piano, the final concert, the Stephen Beus recital at Park City Community Church, features solo works by Beethoven, Handel, Bach, Schonberg and Chopin.
Beus is a winner of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, Harlow said.
“He always plays recitals all around the world, and he’ll head to Finland in a few weeks this year,” she said. “Before he does that, he’ll premier these pieces in Park City to get a feeling of how to play them and then take off.”
Beus, a music professor at Brigham Young University, holds degrees from Juilliard, Whitman College and Stony Brook University, Harlow said.
“We don’t generally play chamber music with him because he’s so busy,” she said. “So we just let him play a solo recital.”
Although the summer season of the Beethoven Festival is closing, Harlow is currently working on the fall season, which will start in September.
“We’ve been calling musicians to ask them if they have time and what pieces they would like to perform,” she said. “We figure out a time and they’ll come. That’s how we do it.”
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