Park City Music Festival
July 14, 2009
For four weeks, Park City will be one of the chamber music capitals of the country.
The Park City Music Festival opens Sunday at Temple Har Shalom. The 3 p.m. concert features cellos, clarinets and pianos highlighting the music of Mozart, Brahams and others. The festival returns the following evening with an 8 p.m. show at Park City Community Church. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, and students get free admission when they attend with paying adults.
Leslie and Russell Harlow of Park City began the festival 25 years ago, and both will take the stage during the first week. Russell is an accomplished clarinet player with the Utah Symphony and Leslie, a violinist, trained at Julliard before moving to Summit County a quarter-century ago.
The concerts are decidedly intimate. No more than 100 are expected at each of the dozen or so performances in Park City and Salt Lake City. Chamber music is unlike its orchestral counterpart because only one person plays each part. The form favors soloists and improvisation.
The festival, which runs through Aug. 10, attracts musicians from around the world. Sunday’s kickoff performance boasts musicians from Chicago, Moscow and Minneapolis.
In all, 24 musicians will play in Park City. "I have seen people come to concerts for the first time," Leslie said. "They’re shocked at how good our performers are. We bring really great players who don’t play together all the time. It’s like an all-star team."
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Performers typically arrive just days before taking the stage. Once they arrive in Salt Lake, a grueling rehearsal schedule begins, about nine hours a day. The degree of difficulty is further heightened because of unusual musical pairings, such as plopping a piano/cello duet in the middle of a concert.
"A lot of chamber music you go to has only one color," Leslie said. "But what we like to do is mix strings, pianos and clarinets. Every program is designed for contrasts."
The reason chamber music remains relevant in the age of movies, the Internet and myriad 21st- century distractions is obvious to Leslie. "You get to see really great players take chances," she said. "We try to be as expressive and free as possible, rather than just being somber and intense."
The Park City Music Festival plays at Temple Har Shalom and Park City Community Church every week through August. For a full schedule, visit http://www.pcmusicfestival.com.