Monday, July 11, 2011

Summertime Music Making

Before long – eventually, one can only hope – summer will be a memory and we’ll all be complaining about how cold it is and dreading the possibility of another weekend snow storm.

But before it comes to that, put Market Square Concerts “Summermusic Festival 2011” on your July calendar.

Two thirds of the Mendelssohn Piano Trio (see left), Peter Sirotin and Ya-Ting Chang, are the new directors of Market Square Concerts – it became official on July 1st – and they will be among the performers of this summer's festival, along with their colleague Fiona Thompson, joining the returning Fry Street String Quartet (see below, right), oboist Gerard Reuter and frequent visitor pianist Stuart Malina, a.k.a. conductor and music director of the Harrisburg Symphony.

There are three concerts – as usual – but this year, none of them will be held at the Glen Allen Mill as in the past. While the mill was a lovely setting, the festival was just outgrowing the space that was available there – and since weather is always a gamble with any summer performance, the idea of having all the concerts inside an air-conditioned space was not unwelcome.

The first program is Friday, July 22nd, at Market Square Church in downtown Harrisburg, beginning at 8pm. The concert begins with a Haydn quartet – Op. 17, No. 6, not one of the one’s you’d expect to find – along with Bela Bartók’s Third Quartet, and in between, a duet for oboe and viola by American composer Alvin Etler. The program closes with one of the most popular piano quintets, the one by Antonín Dvořák.

In the past, the series was set up for a Wednesday evening, with two more concerts on the weekend, but this year the schedule’s a little different, too.

The second program takes place on Sunday, July 24th at 4pm and will be held in Poorman Recital Hall of Messiah College’s Climenhaga Arts Center in Grantham, and opens with a Beethoven rarity (‘rarity’ and Beethoven not usually found together): a set of variations on Mozart’s “La ci darem la mano” from Don Giovanni for oboe, violin and viola. A work many might feel isn’t heard nearly enough is Franz Schubert’s Fantasy in F Minor for piano duet (two on a bench) and the program concludes with the first of Brahms’ two string sextets, the one in B-flat Major. In between is a delightful pair of waltzes from the pen of Broadway legend, Stephen Sondheim.

The third program returns to Market Square Church on Tuesday, July 26th and it begins at a slightly earlier time than usual – 6:00pm. This program includes the other string sextet by Johannes Brahms, the “late” one in G Major along with Johann Halvorsen’s “arrangement” of a Handel passacaglia for violin and viola, the quartet for piano, oboe and cello by Josef Rheinberger, a contemporary of Johannes Brahms’, and a work inspired by a Caribbean island vacation, “Island Prelude” for oboe and strings by Joan Tower.

I’ll be posting more, shortly, about the music on each program.

For ticket information, call 717/214-ARTS or go to the Whitaker Center Box Office. Check the website for more information about the series. Tickets for all three programs are $80 each ($70/seniors) and individual program tickets are $30 each ($25/seniors).

The series is generously supported by contributions from the Jason Litton Memorial Fund and Dr. Linda Litton. The festival sponsor is the Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania and the season sponsor is Capital Blue Cross.

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