Music festival to celebrate American originals and European masterpieces
Ballet dancers will move to the American rhythms of Appalachia during two Lakes Area Music Festival concerts—one at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11 and the other at 2 p.m. Sunday.
And at 7 p.m. Wednesday. the festival will present European masterworks for small groups of musicians, including Antonin Dvorak's lovely "Serenade for Winds." All of the concerts will be at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd and are free of charge.
Saturday and Sunday concerts
Aaron Copeland's "Appalachian Spring" tells the story of a young couple about to be married, an
overzealous preacher, and an old pioneer woman overseeing the events from the perspective of
age and wisdom, organizers said in a news release. Members of the St. Paul Ballet will perform on stage in front of a full orchestra.
According to Zoe Emilie Henrot, the ballet company's artistic director, "'Appalachian Spring' is
celebrated because its music, dance, visuals and inspiration were each truly American. In
1944 Martha Graham and Copeland collaborated to portray the pioneer history of America—not
your typical ballet topic."
Copeland's "Old American Songs: Book 1" is also on the program. John Taylor Ward, the
festival's associate artistic director, will perform them along with the orchestra.
Samuel Barber's haunting "Violin Concerto" rounds out the program. Suliman Tekalli, who will
play the violin solo, says the concerto "is a work that resonates with performers and audiences
alike because of its soaring lines for the solo violin, the rich orchestral textures, and its
quintessentially romantic spirit." Tekalli has won several music competitions and has performed
throughout the U.S., Canada, Central America, Europe and Asia.
The conductor for the concerts will be Christian Reif, who is currently resident conductor of the
San Francisco Symphony and music director of that symphony's youth orchestra.
One-half hour before each performance Scott Lykins, the festival's executive and artistic
director, will give a pre-concert lecture about the music to be performed.
In 1878, Antonin Dvorak attended a Vienna Philharmonic concert that included a Mozart serenade for winds and double bass. Inspired, Dvorak decided to write a wind serenade of his
own, which he composed over the course of two weeks, the news release stated. The piece is scored for two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, three horns, cello and bass.
Dominic Rotella, one of the festival's horn players, said, "Performing Dvorak's serenade feels
almost like being in a tiny orchestra playing a miniature symphony. I love that the entire piece is
imbued with the spirit of Czech folk music."
Johann Sebastian Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto No. 3" is also on the program. Bach composed the Brandenburg concertos as a job application, hoping to secure a position with the
Margrave of Brandenburg. The job never materialized, and the concertos remained
undiscovered until 1849. They are now among the favorites of Bach's compositions.
Felix Mendelssohn's "String Octet" will conclude the program. According to Emily Hogstad's
program notes, the octet "is likely the closest thing classical music has to a miracle.
Mendelssohn was only 16 when he wrote it as a gift to his violin teacher. His later works may
have equaled its brilliance, but none ever exceeded it."
Hogstad stated: "All of the works on this program are unique, but they share one important
element in common: the inspiring technique of their composers. From the brilliance found in
Bach's long-neglected concertos, to Dvorak's strikingly original homage to Mozart, to
Mendelssohn's youthful exuberant masterpiece, this concert is a celebration of composers'
craftsmanship—and the joy it brings to listeners."
Lykins will give a pre-concert lecture one-half hour before the performance at 6:30 p.m.
For more information visit www.lakesareamusic.org.