The City Sentinel Staff Report
OKLAHOMA CITY – Next week, the Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble will present its 17th annual chamber music festival, an all-Beethoven program celebrating the 250th birthday of one of classical music’s seminal figures, Ludwig van Beethoven.
For the safety of our patrons and musicians, the festival will be offered by live stream through the website and shared on Facebook in four virtual concerts on August 20, 21, 22 and 23 at 7:30 pm.
In a generous gesture of support, two City-area churches are allowing recording sessions in early August for musicians to do their recording and video work for the online events. Brightmusic officers say the ensemble will return to its ‘home’ at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral for future events.
The program will feature duos and trios, limiting the number of musicians to maintain social distancing and demonstrating how much music the German master could coax from only a few instruments in the hands of virtuosos. Join Brightmusic online to take part in the worldwide celebration of the man who changed music.
The festival is available to the general public through the website, www.brightmusic.org and shared on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/BrightmusicOK/. After the initial release date, the festival will be available anytime.
The works on the program are:
CONCERT 1 “Distant Beloved”
The Mae Ruth Swanson Memorial Concert
Romance in F major for violin and piano, Op. 50
An die ferne Geliebte, Op. 98
Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 11
CONCERT 2 “Celebratory Cello”
Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 5, No. 2
String Trio in G major, Op. 9, No. 1
CONCERT 3 “Immortal Beloved”
Adelaide for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 46 (arr. By Muller)
Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major, Op. 47 “Kreutzer”
CONCERT 4 “Joyful Winds”
Duo for Clarinet and Bassoon, No. 1 in C major, WoO 27
Trio in E-flat major, Op. 38, for clarinet, cello and piano (arr. Beethoven)
Virtual Virtuosos appearing:
Gregory Lee & Katrin Stamatis (violin), Mark Neumann (viola), Jonathan Ruck & Meredith Blecha-Wells (cello), Chad Burrow (clarinet), Larry Reed (bassoon), Andrew Ranson (tenor), and Amy I-Lin Cheng (piano). Recording engineer: Matt Horton
Why Ludwig Van Beethoven still matters
The Brightmusic press release for this event asked these important and relevant questions:
So why would the world be making such a fuss in the middle of the worst global health crisis in over 100 years? Who was Beethoven and why does he deserve all this attention?
Born in Bonn in 1770, the boy Beethoven would, like most other boys of the day, go into the family business — music in his case.
Despite poverty and a dysfunctional family, he managed to get an adequate musical grounding before relocating to Vienna at the age of 22. Over the next three and a half decades he overcame ill health, chronic depression and deafness to become the most celebrated composer in Europe by the time of his death in 1827.
Today, Beethoven is regarded as one of the most influential figures in the history of music. Beethoven was pivotal in the transition from the Eighteen Century Classical style of Mozart and Haydn to Romanticism, which would dominate the Nineteenth Century.
In July, as preparations for the virtual festival began, Amy I-Lin Cheng, an officer for Brightmusic and one of the emsemble’s featured performers, told The City Sentinel the group is grateful to First Presbyterian Church in Norman, and First Baptist Church in downtown Oklahoma City. The two institutions are allowing Brightmusic to use their facilities to record the upcoming performances at no charge.
She explained, “Both venues have large sanctuaries with Steinway pianos. They are very welcoming.”
In early August, as the process of festival preparation advanced, Cheng elaborated on the process:
“[I]t is necessary to have a large space for recording, in order that the musicians and recording engineer can maintain social distance while working,” she explained.
Brightmusic’s organizers “considered university spaces, private residences and various recording studios in town, but all those options have constraints, so we settled for empty large sanctuaries to be our safest option. It has been a challenge coordinating the project. Musicians also have been doing some ‘virtual’ rehearsing over the internet, in order to cut down on the in-person contact time. During in person rehearsals, we will have to wear masks (other than wind players and the singer). We will take pictures as we go along with the project. It’s been quite a journey already.”
Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble, Oklahoma City’s own chamber ensemble, normally presents fine classical chamber music in acoustically-rich St. Paul’s Cathedral at N.W. 7th and N. Robinson near downtown Oklahoma City (when there isn’t a pandemic going on).
For more information and updates, visit brightmusic.org.
Disclosure: Publisher Pat McGuigan contributed to this report. He is a member of the Brightmusic Society of Oklahoma’s Board of Directors. This story is expanded from the “Entertainment” news feature that appeared in the August 2020 print edition of The City Sentinel newspaper.
The was originally posted in The City Sentinel print edition (August 2020).