Beethoven and Banjos planned
AMASA — The fifth annual Beethoven and Banjos music festival will take place during the first week of October.
Since the first year, the event has drawn together folk and classical music and musicians from around the country and world.
Brother and sister Evan and Laurel Premo grew up in the Upper Peninsula, making music together and are now professional musicians: Evan a classical bass player and composer and Laurel a folk fiddler, banjo player, and composer.
Though they reside on different branches of the musical tree these days, their music grows from common roots and they renew their synergy at Beethoven and Banjos. Each year, the siblings bring their musical colleagues to the U.P. and put together a program that combines folk and classical music in new ways. This year, Beethoven and Banjos will feature the music of Evan and Laurel themselves.
Laurel will perform music from her new instrumental album, “The Iron Trios.” This work dives deeply into traditional and new fiddle music and reveals underlying harmonic drones, minimalist repetition, and rich polyrhythms. Responding to Premo’s fiddling is the metrical yet wavelike sustain of electric and acoustic guitar and an extreme double fiddle-double bass. Laurel is fully leaning in to the archaic fiddle melodies and in-between intonations that connect folk sounds to the mystic and unknown.
For these pieces Laurel will be joined by Evan on the bass and Joshua Davis on the guitar.
Evan will present his song cycle, “Songs from a Mountain Recluse,” for piano, flute, double bass, and soprano. This cycle includes five musical settings of Vermont poet David Budbill that describe his life as an artist living in a rural place — making art, working in the woods, self-sufficiency, natural beauty, financial struggle and gratitude for a full life.
Also on the program will be Evan’s recently completed “Rumi Songs” for soprano and double bass and a setting of Rudyard Kipling’s “When Earth’s Last Picture is Painted” for soprano and piano.
Evan will be joined by his wife and musical collaborator soprano, Mary Bonhag, as well as New York City’s Decoda members David Kaplan on piano and Catherine Gregory on flutes.
Finally, both Evan and Laurel will put their own spin on Sacred Harp shape-note hymns. This uniquely American style of Hymnody, characterized by open chords and full-out singing, has inspired both siblings. This year’s festival is an opportunity to hear their takes on this tradition.
The three concerts for the community will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time Thursday, Oct. 3, in Besse Center Theatre at Bay College, Escanaba; at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time Saturday, Oct. 5, in Reynolds Recital Hall on the Northern Michigan University campus in Marquette; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, in the Crystal Theatre in Crystal Falls.
These unique programs are created especially for the Beethoven and Banjos audiences. Admission is “Come as you are and pay what you can” at the Marquette and Crystal Falls venues. Besse Theatre in Escanaba will have tickets online and at the door.
Beethoven and Banjos musicians gather for an intensive week-long experience of preparation, writing, rehearsing, student programs, and performances. The freshness and intensity experienced during the residency is reflected in the performances and interactions with the audience.
For more information about the 2019 musicians and the concerts, go to the Beethoven and Banjos website at www.beethovenandbanjos.org or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/beethovenandbanjos.