New chamber music festival coming to Mankato

From left to right: Peter McGuire (violin) , Bethel Balge (piano), Leonardo Altino (cello), Jenny Haugen (soprano), Cecilia Belcher (violin), Sifei Cheng (viola), and Richard Belcher (cello).

MANKATO – A new chamber music festival, ProMusica Minnesota, is coming to Mankato.

The festival, under the artistic direction of Bethel Balge and Peter McGuire, brings together ten performers in a series of four concerts from June 16 to June 21.

Balge and McGuire will collaborate to perform the inaugural concert, June 16 at 3 p.m. They will perform Mozart’s Violin Sonata in E Minor, Brahms’ Violin Sonata in D Minor, and Franck’s monumental Violin Sonata in A Major.

On June 17 youthful artists will perform a free concert at 7 p.m. This chapter in the festival will highlight the work of aspiring and inspiring young performers. Works for piano, violin cello and flute will be performed by Brianne Ulrich, Madeline Halvorson, Hannah Greenstein and Kiara Riehl.

On Wednesday, June 19, at 7 p.m. Leonardo Altino and Jenny Haugen will join Balge and McGuire in performances of Clara Schumann’s Five Lieder, Brahms’ Cello Sonata in F Major, and Robert Schumann’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor. This “Circle of Friends” concert is inspired by the friendship shared by Brahms and the Schumanns, and the new friendships that are formed whenever the drama of finely crafted music is shared by the players and the audience.

The ProMusica Minnesota summer festival will conclude with a program entitled “C Minor Moods” on June 21 at 7 p.m. This potentially doleful theme belies the lively and spirited compositions by Brahms. Once again Balge and McGuire will collaborate with another musical circle of friends, Cecilia Belcher, Sefei Chang and Richard Belcher to perform the String Quartet in C Minor, Sonatensatz: Scherzo in C Minor and the Piano Trio in C Minor, a work whose intimate, initial audience in Leipzig included Edvard and Nina Grieg and P. I. Tchaikovsky.

In later performances one of Brahms’ friends suggested that this work embraced the persona and discipline of that great Romantic composer when she wrote, “this (trio) is better than any photograph, for it shows your real self.” All of the concerts in this new regional festival will be performed in the intimate and inviting acoustic of Trinity Chapel at Bethany Lutheran College.

A festival pass is available for online purchase ($35), and tickets will be available at the door ($15per concert; student admission with ID, $5 dollars). Tickets are available at the New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce, or at promusicamn.com.