Give some love to Ludwig | ParkRecord.com

Give some love to Ludwig

Violist Leslie Harlow of the Park City Chamber Music Society is reinventing the annual Summer International Music Festival.

This year, it will be known as the Park City Beethoven Festival, which will run from today, July 14, through Monday, Aug. 20. Performances will be held in venues throughout Park City and Midway. (See the story titled "The Park City Beethoven Festival performances")

"The Park City Summer Chamber Music Festival has had a whole bunch of different names throughout the years," Harlow said during an interview with The Park Record. "Since there are about 10,000 different ‘Park City’ things going on and we’re doing a lot of Beethoven this year, so it just seemed right to change the name."

In fact, over the next two years, Harlow’s goal is to perform all of the Beethoven string quartets in a festival setting.

"There are 16 of them and they are all fantastic works," she said.

Harlow’s love for Beethoven blossomed when she was studying at Juilliard School in New York.

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"My final for my Beethoven class was to listen to all of those string quartets and follow along with the scores and study them," she remembered. "I had to listen to them twice through and write down all my impressions about them.

"I’ve always been a Beethoven fan how can you be a classical musician and not be but it goes beyond the music," Harlow said. "We’ve been collecting things related to him."

One year, when Harlow and her husband Russell, a clarinetist, visited the Beethoven Haus in Germany while on tour in Europe, they bought the composer’s life and death masks and a lot of Beethoven’s busts.

"We did have them partly because he embodies what classical music is all about, but also because everybody knows how Beethoven is," Harlow said.

Harlow and her friend, Annie Sundquist, a Park City Chamber Music Society board member, decided to have some fun with these items.

"We started carrying a Beethoven bust with us in Park City and took pictures of him at different places in Park City, kind of like how Travelocity does with its gnome on TV," Harlow said. "We took Ludwig, as we affectionately call him, on ski lifts, out to lunch and took his photo with people we met."

In Ludwig, Harlow knew they had found a symbol, a kind of spokesperson for the summer festival.

"We wanted someone who was recognizable, but Robert Redford was already taken, even though he loves chamber music," Harlow said wryly. "Beethoven was available, so we chose him."

The mascot has given the festival some new energy.

"Everybody loves what we’re doing with Ludwig," Harlow said. "It’s been really fun."

Another ray of sunshine for the festival comes with Russell Harlow, who recently retired from the Utah Symphony.

"He’s spending all his time on the festival and practicing," Leslie Harlow said. "There is a lot going on and we thought it would be a good thing to do."

Although the festival is named after Beethoven, the performances will feature works from other composers as well, she said.

"There are other festivals around the world that are named after composers and playwrights, but that doesn’t mean the performances are just of those artists’ works," Harlow said. "The Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City does all kinds of plays and not just Shakespeare. The festival titles just give a central focus, and our concerts have a real variety. We’ll perform works by Haydn and Mozart, too."

The musicians who will participate in the Park City Beethoven Festival will perform six Beethoven works and compositions by other composers in venues such as the Temple Har Shalom, the Park City Community Church and the Zermatt Resort in Midway (see accompanying schedule).

"We’re going three of his string quartet and we’re doing some of his piano sonatas and violin sonatas as well, this year," Harlow said.

The musicians will also perform at the bandstand at City Park.

"We don’t really plan ahead for those shows," Harlow said. "We kind of take a poll of the players who are here and ask what they want to play."

The musicians this year will feature the Harlows, violinists Monte Belknap, Manuel Ramos, Paul Rosenthal and Alexander Woods, pianists Jeffrey Shumway, Doris Stevenson, Robert Moeling and Jee-Won Oh and cellists Jeffrey Solow, Mark Kosower and Julie Bevan.

"The festival’s purpose is to show people that the music we play belongs to them," Harlow said. "All this classical music is not only for the elite so to speak. People can enjoy it and not have to know a lot about it. They can just go and listen."

The Park City Chamber Music Society’s Beethoven Music Festival, which will run through Monday, Aug. 20, will present a free kick-off concert in City Park on Monday, July 16, from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Violinists Monte Belknap and Margaret Baldridge will perform with violist Leslie Harlow, clarinetist Russell Harlow, cellist Jeffrey Solow and pianist Robert Moeling. The music will include works by Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Admission is free. For more information about the festival, visit http://www.pcmusicfestival.com/2012summer.html.