Park City’s Beethoven Festival readies 33rd season
The Park City Beethoven Festival will officially kick off its 33rd season on Thursday at the Park City Community Church, said founder Leslie Harlow.
“We’re the oldest ongoing classical-music festival in Utah and we’re excited to be able to continue doing this,” Harlow, a violist, told The Park Record. “The players we have coming to perform are so enthusiastic. They help choose the pieces we play, because when we contact them, they tell us what pieces they are currently playing in other orchestras and festivals around the world.” That means Harlow and husband Russell, who is the festival’s resident clarinetist, puts together unique groups to perform these works.
“The nice thing about the festival is that we’re not a presenting organization,” Leslie Harlow said. “It’s really a residency where all of these fine musicians come and perform. You will never hear or see this exact combination of players playing these pieces.”
The guest musicians who will help kick off the first week of the Beethoven Festival are violinist Rebekah Johnson, cellist Scott Ballantyne and pianist Hiroko Sasaki.
“We’re really excited to have these three with us this year,” Leslie Harlow said. “Rebekah and Scott, who last played with us in 2004, are old friends and have been with us before, and Russ and I both know them from different places.”
Russell Harlow concurred.
“We’re lucky to have Scott back because he can’t come all the time,” he said. “For the past several years, he has been in Scandinavia doing recitals and concertos while we do this.”
Johnson’s itinerary also makes it a challenge for the Harlows to bring her to Park City.
“She plays at the Teton Music Festival, so her schedule is quite busy, too,” Leslie Harlow said. “But she and Scott will be here for the first week of the festival at the same time.” Ballantyne suggested Sasaki to the Harlows.
“They have played recitals together and we’re thrilled she is coming,” Leslie Harlow said. “I’ve listened to her performances on YouTube and she is amazing.”
The three musicians, along with the Harlows, will play an array of works that will include the Schubert Piano Trio.
“They have been playing this in New York,” Russell Harlow said.
The group will also perform the Mozart Quartet for Clarinet and Strings.
“We haven’t done that here in a long time,” he said. “It’s a contemporary arrangement for a string trio and clarinet.” Of course the Beethoven Festival will also feature some Beethoven in the weeks to come. (See story titled (Beethoven Music Festival schedule).
While Johnson, Ballantyne and Sasaki will join the Harlows in the Beethoven String Trio Op. 9 No. 1 on July 10, at Temple Har Shalom, the Harlows will perform the Beethoven Trio Opus 38 Septet for Clarinet, Cello and Piano with violinist Blanka Bednarz, pianist John Jenson and cellists Jeffrey Solow and Cheung Chau at the Park City Community Church on July 14.
“Then we’re going to do the Beethoven Symphony No. 4 for Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano,” Russell Harlow said.
That concert, featuring Slow, Chau, Jensen, Bednarz, the Harlows and a Beethoven Festival veteran, violinist Monte Belknap, will be held July 17, at Temple Har Shalom.
“It was originally arranged by Johann Hummel for piano with the accompaniment of flute, violin and cello,” he said. “Hummel was a contemporary of Beethoven.”
This year’s festival will also feature pianist and Parkite Pamela Jones.
“Pam, who lives in Park City, is also a harpsichord player and we will do some salon concerts with her on her harpsichord,” Leslie Harlow said. “We’re looking forward to the last week of the festival when we will perform a bunch of works with her.”
This year’s festival will run for six weeks, which is longer than in the past.
“The reason is because we have all of these players and many more opportunities,” Leslie Harlow said.
One of the most enjoyable opportunities for the musicians is the free outdoor concerts in City Park that are held every Monday at 6:30 p.m.
“We started these up with Mountain Town Music a couple of years ago, and they have been well attended,” Leslie Harlow said. “We actually play our best stuff during these concerts. It’s nice to look out and see people enjoying the concerts.
“Even when it rains, we play anyway and invite the audience to sit under the gazebo with us,” she said. “That way they can experience one of the most intimate concerts we perform.”
These concerts are ideal for families.
“They can pack a picnic and bring their kids, which is different than our regular concerts,” Leslie Harlow said.
“There are even dogs and skateboarders who attend those concerts,” Russell Harlow said.
The Park City Beethoven Festival will run though Aug. 15 at various venues in Park City. The kick-off concert will be held on Thursday, July 7, will be held at Park City Community Church, 4501 S.R. 224, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for senior citizens and students. For more information, visit http://www.pcmusicfestival.com.
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