Summer of the King 'B'

Relax, Schroeder! Beethoven gets his due at this year's Austin Chamber Music Festival

Summer of the King 'B'
Illustration By Robert Faires

There's a reason that people still know the name of Beethoven, and it has nothing to do with those movies pairing Charles Grodin and a big dog. The man's music endures, still makes a mighty impression on the ear, as anyone who's heard the "Ode to Joy" or the first four notes of the unforgettable Fifth can tell you.

In a move that would warm the heart of Schroeder, the Austin Chamber Music Center is dedicating its annual summer festival to the King "B." In the 23 concerts that ACMC is presenting June 30 through July 23, works by the composer figure prominently, along with compositions by the artists who influenced him and were in turn influenced by him, everyone from Brahms and Haydn to Britten and Poulenc. If all you know of Beethoven are the orchestral masterpieces, this is a splendid opportunity to immerse yourself in his chamber works, such as the Piano Trio, Op. 70, No. 2; Sonata in D major, Op. 6; String Quartet in F minor, Op. 95; the Adagio for flute, violin, guitar, and piano; and settings of Scottish folk songs. And you'll be hearing them performed by a sterling array of local musicians – Felicity Coltman, Rick Rowley, Megan Meisenbach, Douglas Harvey, Matthew Hinsley, and Elden Little, to name a few – alongside some top-name chamber groups from across the U.S.: the Jupiter String Quartet, the Aurora Guitar Quartet, the Amadeus Trio, and perennial Austin Chamber Music Festival favorites, Duo Turgeon.

The performances comprising Beetho-ven and Beyond range from free concerts at Huston-Tillotson University and St. James' Episcopal to a Piano Extravaganza featuring eight pianists at Congregation Agudas Achim; a free children's concert with Austin's Arundel String Quintet at Austin Children's Museum to a workshop finale concert in which more than 100 students and faculty artists will perform a tribute to Beethoven for choir and orchestra written for the event by resident composer Gordon Jones; a host of noontime recitals and master classes for students in the Austin Chamber Music Workshop to the popular lunchtime Up Close With the Artists series at St. Stephen's Episcopal School, where visiting artists not only play but talk about the music, composers, and their own careers.

Maestro Peter Bay of the Austin Symphony helps kick things off at the opening gala at the Driskill Hotel on Wednesday, July 6. Festival artists will perform Beethoven's Septet, Op. 20 in a program with Gounod's Petite Symphonie for winds and Dvorak's Serenade for winds in D minor, Op. 44. For more information, call 454-0026 or visit www.austinchambermusic.org.

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