Southern Illinois Music Festival 2011 Takes It... Bach to Beethoven!

Southern Illinois Music Festival 2011 Takes It... Bach to Beethoven!
Brian Wilson

On Tuesday, June 14, the Southern Illinois Music Festival Orchestra will present a special program, Bach to Beethoven, at Carbondale Community High School.

The menu for this concert will contain seminal works like Bach's Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, Haydn's Eighty-eighth Symphony, and Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. This concert will feature flutist Amber Williamson, harpsichordist Martha Stiehl, and SIU's own Michael Barta, a Tchaikovsky Competition award-winner, Brandenburg Concerto soloist, chamber-music artist, and concertmaster.

Barta says the works featured in this concert are standard literature for musicians, and he looks forward to bringing them to the festival audience. Although he has performed them many times throughout his life, the experience changes each time a new set of musicians is brought together.

Barta admits that with the fast-paced schedule of the festival and with musicians being brought in from different locations, there is not always the opportunity to spend a large amount of time in rehearsals. He explains that in a festival of this size, "There's a lot of music played in a very short time, so rehearsal time will obviously be limited. It is only possible to pull it off because of the high level of professionalism."

He says that though the musicians may not have previously performed together, everyone involved knows the works very well and is capable of adapting to different situations.

"When professional musicians get together, then they can usually quickly agree on the basics, such as tempo and stylistic approach," he says. "It can happen very quickly in the rehearsal if you prepare your own part and then make the small adjustments for tempo, match the style, and agree on the style of some of the other musicians."

The Southern Illinois Music Festival's artistic director, Edward Benyas, will conduct the orchestra June 14, except when he plays oboe on a performance of Introduction, Theme, and Variations by Beethoven's contemporary, J.N. Hummel. Benyas says he enjoys being given the opportunity to both conduct and perform.

"With a great orchestra and great music, there is nothing better," Benyas says. "But I also like to play. I just had the chance to perform as guest principal oboist with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra earlier this month for a Mahler Symphony, and I had a great time. I'll be playing an oboe concerto this summer by Hummel, a contemporary of Beethoven, which my very talented graduate conducting assistant, Michael Wheatley, will conduct. I'm looking forward to that too."

Barta says that despite the hectic schedule and the high level of energy required from everyone involved, the festival is well worth it.

"It's a rewarding experience," Barta says. "It's right here. I think Ed [Benyas] should be credited [for] pulling this off. From the logistical standpoint, bringing so many professional musicians together. From the financial standpoint, to raise the necessary funds to keep the festival going when the overall economic picture is not that bright, as we all know. And then he's still pulling it off, so I admire him for that as well as, of course, the musical accomplishments."

Tickets for Bach to Beethoven are $20 per person, and $10 for students. Tickets sell via the Marion Cultural and Civic Center box office at (618) 997-4030 or <>.

For the complete festival schedule, log on to <> or call the SIU School of Music at (618) 53-MUSIC.

who: Southern Illinois Music Festival Orchestra

what: Bach to Beethoven

where: Carbondale Community High School

when: Tuesday, June 14