Utah’s oldest summer music festival kicks off its 33rd season this week.

The brainchild of violist Leslie Harlow, the Beethoven Festival Park City began back in 1984 when there were only a fraction of the summer festivals one finds today. And right from the start the annual Park City event has had a successful track record of giving its audiences what they want to hear – as well as introducing them to the music of composers who’ve been unduly neglected.

“When we program we always look at what is going to work for people who are new to chamber music and what is going to work for people who love chamber music,” Harlow said. “Fortunately, there is so much variety in the music that we can contrast different composers and combinations.”

This year’s festival runs July 5 through Aug. 15. The first concert, on July 7, features two major works of the chamber repertoire, Brahms’ Cello Sonata in F minor and Schubert’s Piano Trio in B flat major, along with a not as well known quartet for clarinet and strings by Mozart.

Over the six weeks of the festival, audiences will be able to hear a broad spectrum of works. On the roster this year are Mozart’s Piano Quartet in G minor and his String Quintet in G minor;  Schubert’s Cello Quintet in C major; and Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet. Music by Dohnanyi, Telemann and Handel will also be featured.

There will also be a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4, in an arrangement for clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano. “The Fourth is chamber like in its original [orchestral] version, and I think it works very well in this arrangement,” said clarinetist and festival co-director Russell Harlow. This version (with a flute rather than a clarinet) was made by the composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel; Harlow took the arrangement and replaced the flute with a clarinet. 

Russell Harlow

“There are several other Beethoven symphonies that we can do that Hummel arranged for a chamber ensemble,” Harlow said, adding that that would be something for audiences to look forward to at future festivals.

Along with the heavy weights of chamber music, the Harlows have also programmed a number of pieces that seldom see the light of day. Among them are Aram Khachaturian’s Trio for  Clarinet, Violin and Piano; Anton Arensky’s Quartet for Violin, Viola and Two Cellos; Gian Carlo Menotti’s Suite for Two Cellos and Piano; Franz Krommer’s Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Cello; and Bohuslav Martinu’s  Sonatine for Clarinet and Piano. 

“A lot of these are works that people have not had the chance to hear,” Leslie Harlow said. “Programming them gives us [the musicians] and the audiences an opportunity to explore.”

Scott Ballantyne

Musicians joining the Harlows this year will be cellists Scott Ballantyne, Cheung Chau and Jeffrey Solow; violinists Manuel Ramos, Monte Belknap and Blanka Bednarz; pianists John Jensen, Doris Stevenson, Melissa Livengood and Pamela Palmer Jones; and clarinetist Lee Livengood.

Jeffrey Solow

Evening concerts take place in Park City Community Church, 4501 N. Highway 224. Sunday matinee concerts are held in Temple Har Shalom, 3700 N. Brookside Ct. On Mondays there will be outdoor concerts at Park City’s City Park, 1354 Park Ave. These are informal and free of charge. 

In addition to these concerts, there will also be a number of salon concerts in private homes in and around Park City.

For a complete list of concerts, performer bios and ticket information, log on to http://www.pcmusicfestival.com