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MailTribune.com
  • Britt Classical Season

    July 30 - Aug. 19
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  • The Britt Classical Festival is the heart — and the start — of it all.
    Founded in 1963, the classical festival produced the first concerts heard on the hill in Jacksonville. Now it features a professional orchestra of nearly 100 musicians who come from all over the United States to play under the Southern Oregon stars each August. Some have returned to this “summer job” for 20 years or more, the festival’s Web site notes.
    Peter Bay celebrates 15 years as music director and conductor of the Britt Festival Orchestra this summer.
    This year he, the orchestra and special guests will present seven shows featuring a variety of classical music. The Arianna String Quartet returns for a third year to perform a chamber music concert at the Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall in Ashland and provide coaching and classes as quartet-in-residence.
    The Arianna String Quartet is up first this summer, with its concert at SOU at 8 p.m. Monday, July 30. The group, which formed in 1992, includes violinists John McGrosso and David Gillham, violist Robert Meyer and cellist Kurt Baldwin. It has won critical praise and a slew of honors including the grand prize in the 1994 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. They also will serve as the quartet-in-residence for the Britt Institute Chamber Strings Camp, a youth program at the SOU campus. Explore the quartet’s work at www.ariannaquartet.com.
    Tickets for the show in Ashland cost $23.
    Opening night of the Britt Classical Festival is Friday, August 3.
    Start the evening with a champagne picnic catered by Jacksonville Inn in the Britt Gardens at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25.
    Violinist Nicola Benedetti. 20, joins the orchestra as they take the stage at 8 p.m.
    Born in Scotland of Italian heritage, Benedetti was named BBC’s Young Musician of the Year in 2004. She started violin lessons at age 4 and in 1997 started five years at the Yehudi Menuhin School. She debuted in the United States last year at the Academy of Achievement Summit at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center.
    Learn more about her at http://www.nicolabenedetti.co.uk/
    The evening’s program will include Christopher Theofanidis’ “Rainbow Body,” Felix Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64,” and Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64.”
    Premium reserved seats cost $39; reserved seats are $36; lawn seats are $25, and children 12 and younger get in for $14.
    Pianist Norman Krieger performs with the orchestra at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4.
    An associate professor at University of Southern California, Krieger has both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Juilliard. He regularly appears with orchestras around the world, gives recitals and collaborates on chamber music.
    The evening’s program will include Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Prelude and Fugue in D Major” as orchestrated by Ottorino Respighi, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” and Johannes Brahms’ “Piano Quartet in G Minor” as orchestrated by Arnold Schoenberg.
    Catch a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. by James Chubet, the orchestra’s principal pianist.
    Premium reserved seats cost $39; reserved seats are $36; lawn seats are $25, and children 12 and younger get in for $14.
    Pianist Jeff Kahane, a long-time favorite of Britt audiences, will be featured alongside the orchestra at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10.
    Kahane began his classical piano studies at age 5. As a teenager, he took up guitar and composing, experimenting with numerous genres. He went to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as a high school sophomore, and while there, he explored jazz and spent time playing in the pit for a touring Broadway musical. In 1983 he launched his international career as a solo pianist and has since performed with leading orchestras and collaborated with other musicians. He is also a conductor. Read his online biography.
    The evening’s program includes Charles Tomlinson Griffes’ “The Pleasure-Dome of Kubla Khan, Op. 8,” Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58” and Antonín Dvorák’s “Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95, From the New World.”
    Eric Teel, director of FM program services for Jefferson Public Radio, give a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m.
    Premium reserved seats cost $42; reserved seats are $39; lawn seats are $27, and children 12 and younger get in for $14.
    Opera’s Greatest Hits was popular on the Britt hillside last year and top singers will join the orchestra again at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11.
    Frederica von Stade, a mezzo-soprano who debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in 1970, and Samuel Ramey, touted as the most recorded bass in history, present an evening of opera arias and musical theater duets. They perform together regularly. Read up on them at www.fredericavonstade.com and www.samuelramey.com.
    The pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. is by Dr. Doyne Mraz.
    Premium reserved seats cost $54; reserved seats are $51; lawn seats are $32, and children 12 and younger get in for $16.
    Settle in among friends for a performance showcasing Britt concertmaster Ignace “Iggy” Jang and principal cellist Naomi Barron at 8 p.m. Friday Aug. 17.
    The program will feature Joseph Joachim’s “Hamlet Overture,” the Double Concerto of Johannes Brahms and Robert Schumann’s “Symphony No. 3, Rhenish.”
    Don Matthews, director of programming at Jefferson Public Radio, presents the pre-concert talk at 7 p.m.
    Premium reserved seats cost $37; reserved seats are $34; lawn seats are $24, and children 12 and younger get in for $14.
    Gather the generations for a family concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18.
    Canada’s Platypus Theatre joins the orchestra to tell the story “How the Gimquat Found Her Song.” The rare and awkward gimquat bird has no song, but a magician takes her on a fantastic journey in search of the perfect song, introducing the audience to music by Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Bizet, Ravel, and even Ellington.
    The Ottawa-based theater company uses puppets, masks and actors to weave the story and win over audiences. Grammy-Award winning conductor John McLaughlin Williams is guest conductor for the performance.
    Gates open at 5:45 p.m. and pre-concert children’s activities start at 6 p.m.
    Premium reserved seats cost $25; reserved seats are $22; lawn and side section bench seats are $18, and children 12 and younger get in for $8.
    Sarah Chang returns to Britt to close out the classical season, at 8 p.m. Sunday Aug. 19.
    Chang began her violin studies at 4 and promptly enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music. Within a year, she was performing with orchestras in the Philadelphia area, and by age 8, she had landed engagements with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Now 26, she is known for her musical insight, technical virtuosity and emotional range.
    The program includes music by Jean Sibelius and Maurice Ravel.
    The pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. is presented by Ilana Rubenfeld.
    Premium reserved seats cost $42; reserved seats are $39; lawn seats are $28, and children 12 and younger get in for $14.
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