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LAMF to kick off season with prelude concerts July 14

Lakes Area Musical Festival fans will have several opportunities to enjoy "prelude" concerts before the festival kicks off its 10th anniversary season in August.

The free concerts on consecutive weekends will feature two different programs and will take place at several venues.

Saturday and Sunday, July 14-15, will feature the Twin Cities-based Lux String Quartet, along with pianist Scott Lykins and baritone John Taylor Ward, the organization's founding artistic directors.

The Lux Quartet, founded in 2013, works to make classical music more accessible, both through education and by performing in unusual venues.

In a preview of this year's opera, Ward will sing an aria from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "The Magic Flute." He also will sing a couple of Aaron Copland's Old American Songs and a song by Gustav Mahler.

Concerts on the weekend of July 21-22 will feature mezzo-soprano Abigail Levis, returning after her LAMF debut in 2015. Levis spent the past year with the Deutsche Oper Berlin and has performed with the Los Angeles Opera, the Utah Opera, the Dallas Opera, the Toronto Symphony and the Cincinnati Symphony, among many others.

She and Ward will sing the duet "Pa-pa-pa-pa..." from "The Magic Flute." Levis will also perform "La Dame de Monte Carlo" by Francis Poulenc, an aria from Rossini's version of the Cinderella story, and a selection of songs by Gustav Mahler.

Ward will sing "Bought Me a Cat" from Copland's Old American Songs and selections from "The Southern Harmony" by William Walker. Lykins will accompany the program and perform J. S. Bach's "Prelude and Fugue in C Minor" on the piano.

The schedule of performances will be:

• Saturday July 14: 7 p.m. at the Butler Opera House in Aitkin.

• Sunday, July 15: 2 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Brainerd.

• Sunday, July 15: 7 p.m. at Crosslake Lutheran Church.

• Saturday, July 21: 7 p.m. at United Methodists Church in Motley.

• Sunday, July 22: 2 p.m. at Salem Lutheran Church in Deerwood.

• Sunday, July 22: 7 p.m. at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Nisswa.

The Lakes Area Music Festival, an annual summer series attracting many leading instrumental and vocal performers, will take place Aug. 4-26. All regular performances are at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd and are free.

In total, 53 different events will take place during the 22 days of the festival season. More than 150 all-star musicians from top orchestra and opera companies across the globe will be in the Brainerd lakes area this year as guest artists. For more information, visit www.lakesareamusic.org.