A string quartet rehearses for a previous Michigan City Chamber Music Festival. This year's festival opens Saturday, Aug. 11. | Photo provided
Updated: September 10, 2012 1:32PM
Performances by world class musicians, children’s programs and free admission to family-friendly concerts are just some of features of the wonderful Michigan City Chamber Music Festival which begins its 11th season with an evening concert Saturday, Aug. 11.
“This will be the best year ever,” according to Sunny Gardner-Orbovich, a founder of the festival.
“The theme this year is “Serioso — Serious Music.” It’s beautiful, it’s expressive and emotional — it’s like the greatest hits of chamber music,” Gardner-Orbovich said.
She was also enthusiastic about the change of time and venue for the concerts for children.
“This year two of the children’s programs will be in the evening at a time that works better for parents to come after work with their children. We’ll serve a little supper also, to make it even easier for families to attend. But these aren’t concerts just for children. The music is wonderful, so we recommend that everyone come, even without children,” she said.
The first of these programs will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14, and will feature a fun interactive presentation by composer and violist, Rudolf Haken, of his work “Chamber Mass.”
“It’s such a wonderful experience to have the composer there to talk to us about his new piece, to play bits of it, to describe his work, and teach us parts we can sing to. And we’ll also have sopranos Kim Jones and Melisa Barrick to help teach us the parts we can sing, then we hope the families will return for the full performance of the work on Wednesday,” explained Gardner-Orbovich, who is also the festival’s director of educational programs.
The educational aspect of the festival is another one of its highlights, and not only in the children’s programs. Before each work at all of the concerts one of the musicians will offer interesting introductions to each piece, sharing information about the composer and the context of the work, as well as offering insights to the themes and elements to listen for as the music is performed.
In that vein, Sunny’s husband, Nic, a violinist and festival co-founder, offered some insights into this year’s theme.
“Serioso simply means serious. This music is of a serious nature, but it’s also of political, emotional or spiritual inspiration. These are good areas for a composer to show their skill in drama.”
The opening program, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, will feature pieces for oboe and strings by Vivaldi and Mozart, followed by Beethoven’s “Serioso” string quartet, the piece which lent inspiration to this season’s theme. Orbovich said that this unique work was intended by Beethoven to only be performed for serious musicians, and not for the general public.
The concerts will take place at 7:30 nightly Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and conclude at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, with a program featuring the festival’s youth competition winners. All of the family-friendly programs are being held at the First Presbyterian Church. Free child care is available. There are also meet-and-greet receptions with the performers after each program, and refreshments are served. Freewill donations are greatly appreciated, as are additional sponsors.
The concerts for children are at 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at the First Presbyterian Church. Thursday’s program will feature music by Schubert, who Gardner-Orbovich says was a master of telling a story with musical embellishment. The program will explore the work to be performed the next night, and will also include a make-and-take craft, using embellishments to adorn paper hats. She hopes that the hat makers will return to with their families to Friday’s concert, familiar with the music and wearing their hats.
The First Presbyterian Church is at 121 W. 9th St., just west of Franklin Street.
The festival also includes a performance by the Michigan City Community Children’s Choir at noon Saturday, Aug. 18, and a high-tech cello class via Skype at noon Tuesday between festival cellist, Wesley Baldwin and his students in Tennessee. These events will be at the Michigan City Public Library, 400 Franklin St.
There will also be a free, open rehearsal at noon Thursday, Aug. 16, at the Walnut Ink Gallery, 607 Franklin St., Michigan City.
The complete festival program along with biographies of the musicians can be found at www.mccmf.org.