The Lakes Area Music Festival announced the lineup of performers and repertoire to be featured in its 2019 season.
The 11th year of the festival will run Aug. 2-25 with more than 50 classical music performances, education programs and outreach activities in the Brainerd lakes area. A professional roster of 170 musicians is engaged, including performers from top ensembles and opera companies from around the world, a news release reported.
The festival will kick off Aug. 2, when the organization will stage a season-opening gala "Rhapsody in Blue" at the Northern Pacific Center in downtown Brainerd. A symphony orchestra will perform well-known American selections by George Gershwin, including "An American in Paris," the overture to "Girl Crazy," and "Rhapsody in Blue" featuring international touring pianist and returning festival artist, Tanya Gabrielian. Classic songs by Gershwin will be sung by Anna Dennis and John Taylor Ward. More information including ticketing options will be available on the organization's website by April 1.
The remaining performances will take place at Tornstrom Auditorium, 804 Oak St., Brainerd, and will be presented without tickets or fees.
Continuing the opening weekend are two educational programs, both led by conductor Edwin Outwater, formerly of the San Francisco Symphony. On Aug. 3, the festival will introduce a new element to its summer programming: a Symphony 101 concert will include a performance of Johannes Brahms' First Symphony, preceded by informative narration and musical examples giving reference to the work's history and influences. This education program is intended for both student and adult audiences.
The next afternoon, Aug. 4, will be a Concert for Kids titled "I Got Rhythm!" featuring works by Gershwin, Brahms and Beethoven for families and audiences of all ages.
On Aug. 7, the season will feature French works for small ensemble. Opening the program, Milwaukee Symphony's principal flautist Sonora Slocum will play Claude Debussy's innovative flute solo "Syrinx," followed by tenor Zachary Wilder and pianist Mary Box's performance of Jules Massenet's melodrama "Poèmes d'Avril." Ernest Chausson's Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet will feature soloists Jonathan Magness on violin, of the Minnesota Orchestra, and pianist Gabrielian.
Performances Aug. 10 and Aug. 11, will be led by rising star conductor Gemma New. Alongside Igor Stravinsky's Danses concertante, the program will include the festival's first-ever world premiere: a new violin concerto by Venezuelan-American composer Reinaldo Moya, with Francesca Anderegg of the St. Olaf College faculty as soloist. These performances will also feature a newly forged partnership between the festival and the Amsterdam-based dance company House of Makers, which will present new choreography to John Adams' "Shaker Loops."
On Aug. 14 will be "A Journey to Bach" tracing the revolution of baroque music from Italy to Germany leading up to a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 4. Led by baroque violinist Chloe Fedor, the program will include selections by Claudio Monteverdi, Heinrich Biber, Dieterich Buxtehude and more.
The festival's opera production serves as a highlight of every season. This year, Jacques Offenbach's "La belle Hélène" will represent the lighter side of French opera. "A hysterical and absurd romp through Ancient Greece wouldn't be complete without Spartan soldiers, Prince Paris, and of course the most beautiful woman in the world-Helen of Troy," a news release stated.
Conductor Jonathan Brandani and stage director JJ Hudson will lead the production, which will feature returning soprano Anna Dennis in the role of Helen and tenor Zachary Wilder as Paris. Other principals include baritone John Taylor Ward as Calchas, Jason McStoots as Menelas and Gary Moss as Agamemnon. Two performances will take place Aug. 17-18, each preceded by an interview with Brandani and Hudson, led by a host from Minnesota Public Radio. "Beethoven's Pastorale" will be performed Aug. 21 with a chamber orchestra conducted by Courtney Lewis of the Jacksonville Symphony. Alongside Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, the ensemble will perform Franz Shrecker's Chamber Symphony and Maurice Ravel's "Le tombeau de Couperin."
The festival will come to a close with a program of "Strauss and Tchaikovsky" performed by a symphony orchestra led by Courtney Lewis. The orchestra will be highlighted in Richard Strauss' tone poem Don Juan and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5. Violinist Itamar Zorman, a winner of the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition, will be featured in the second violin concerto by Karol Szymanowski.
In addition to these concerts, daily activities include a musical theater cabaret, open rehearsal series, master classes, pre-concert lectures and outdoor public performances. Outreach activities also will bring guest musicians throughout the community to perform in parks, schools, elder care facilities and the county jail.
The Lakes Area Music Festival was established during the summer of 2009 when founding director Scott Lykins returned to his hometown of Brainerd with four colleagues from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. In an effort to create an outlet for their musical gifts, the musicians staged six free concerts and enlisted members of the Minnesota and St. Paul Chamber orchestras to participate. Each concert drew successively larger audiences and-based upon the community's demonstrated desire for musical enrichment-the organizers expanded the scope, improving the programming and raising the standard of quality each year, the news release stated.
The festival has demonstrated the value of classical music performance and education opportunities in the lives of residents and guests of central Minnesota. Year-round events now bring together more than 14,000 audience members over the three weeks.
For more information about the festival and the 2019 season, visit www.lakesareamusic.org.