Brahms in the barn this weekend

John Harbison, artistic director and composer, plays piano at the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival.

The Token Creek Festival continues its 30th anniversary season with a program devoted to the music of Brahms.

No discussion of Brahms takes place without engaging with the most important person in his life, the formidable pianist and composer Clara Schumann (1819-1896). Brahms was in love with Clara, but unfortunately she was married to Robert Schumann, one of Brahms’ closest friends.

Clara is involved with all of the pieces on the program: the G major violin sonata, illustrated with a performance of Brahms’ “Regenlied” (“Rain Song” that precedes it and introduces the sonata’s theme); the Sonata in E minor for Cello and Piano, and the Piano Quartet in C minor, a piece that retains its distinctive charge of unresolvable emotion.

Violinist Rose Mary Harbison, co-artistic director of the Token Creek Festival, will be joined by Lila Brown, viola, Rhonda Rider, cello, Janice Weber, piano, and mezzo-soprano Kathleen Otterson.

Concerts are on Saturday, Aug. 24 and Sunday, Aug 25, both at 4 p.m.

Upcoming concerts include “Words & Music,” a belated birthday tribute to artistic co-director John Harbison, on Aug. 28 at 7:30 p.m. The intimate program will include readings, the premiere of new Harbison songs, and works of Bach, Mozart, and Schoenberg.

The Festival closes with “The Piano” on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, both at 4 p.m., welcoming back pianists Robert Levin and Ya-Fei Chuang, playing together and as soloists. Their program explores the question of the composer/performer, here composers who were also formidable pianists: Mozart, Ravel, and Liszt. Beethoven’s fourth piano concerto, arranged by the composer for chamber ensemble, and excerpts of Harbison’s second sonata, written for Levin, complete the program.

For tickets and more information:


Token Creek Festival Barn,4037 Hwy 19 | DeForest, WI 53532 (5 miles west of Sun Prairie)

Indoors and air-conditioned. Please dress for comfort.

General admission. Doors open 30 minutes before performance. Ample parking is available.

Tickets $12-$45.

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