by Kimberly Schneider
. Dale Warland and the Festival Chorale will delight crowds during this year's Beethoven Festival.
The Minnesota Beethoven Festival sold a record number of subscriptions during its eighth season, said Caroline Kirk, Festival Marketing and PR Director.
“The interest and support has only grown with every season,” said Kirk of the 324 subscriptions this season — numbers usually hover between 275-300.
The festival begins June 29 with Boston Brass and wraps up July 20 with the Opheus Chamber Orchestra with Ned Kirk, artistic and managing director of the festival, accompanying on piano.
Other artists this year include violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, baritone Thomas Hampson, Attacca Quartet, flutist Sir James Galway, Dale Warland and the Festival Chorale, double bassist Edgar Meyer and the New York Chamber Soloists.
“We hope that there is something everyone is attracted to,” said Kirk of the diverse schedule.
Each year the festival offers a free concert. The Boston Brass quartet will kick off the festival with a performance at 8 p.m., June 29 at the Lake Park Bandshell.
Kirk said the free concert typically brings in several thousand people. It’s a family friendly event and people arrive hours before with lawn chairs and picnics prepared.
“It becomes an evening to enjoy for everyone,” said Kirk.
Over the years the Winona community has truly embraced this festival, Kirk said, and the free concert is their way of giving back.
Of the many performers, Kirk said two repeat performers have generated a lot of excitement in the past — Dale Warland and the Festival Chorale, and baritone Thomas Hampson.
The Festival Chorale, directed by Minnesota choral legend Dale Warland, is visiting Winona for their fifth consecutive season with the Minnesota Beethoven Festival.
Each year Warland brings 47 singers a week in advance to prepare their concert.
“They jokingly refer to it as choir camp,” said Kirk.
They will perform twice during the festival — once at 7:30 p.m., July 12, and again at 3 p.m., July 13. Both performances are at the Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels at Saint Mary’s University.
The chorale even draws Minnesota Public Radio’s Brian Newhouse out of the Twin Cities, who will host the performances. This year the chorale will also add a small string section.
In addition to the Festival Chorale, performer Thomas Hampson has drawn a large crowd in past seasons.
Hampson is a world-renowned baritone, said Kirk, and previously performed at the 2009 and 2011 Minnesota Beethoven Festival.
Hop on these tickets fast because Kirk said they are nearly all gone.
Unfortunately, the performances of New York Chamber soloists, Edgar Meyer, and Sir James Galway are sold out.
However, Kirk suggests trying your luck at the door the night of the concert — she said there always seem to be extra tickets the night of the event.