Bridge Chamber Music Festival, Aug. 21-27


The Bridge Chamber Music Festival, now in its 18th season, will present a vast repertoire of classical and jazz music by accomplished students and professional musicians in Northfield, MN August 21-27.

The first concert is the Young Artist Recital that features talented youth from southern Minnesota. Violist Cate Carson expressed her excitement to take part in the BCMF. “It gives me the chance to meet and hear other young local musicians,” said Carson who will be performing the Concerto in G Minor, by Max Bruch. Carson said it is a piece she’s wanted to play for a long time, and that’s she happy to now be performing it. “It is a piece with many different moods and lots of musical drama – it’s very virtuosic but has beautiful melodies in it as well,” Carson said.

Enso String Quartet out of New York is marked for the second day of the Festival. The Grammy-nominated quartet, founded at Yale University, has built their acclaim by achieving high awards at the Concert Artists Guild and Banff International Spring Quartet Competitions. 

They tour the U.S. extensively, but give back to the profession as instructors, recognized for their work with master classes with next generation professional musicians, amateurs of all ages, and school-age children on the autism spectrum, according to their website.

“We're very much looking forward to playing at the Bridge Chamber Music Festival in Northfield,” said Cellist Richard Belcher of Enso String Quartet. “The program is all music that we really love, and have performed for a number of years. 2016 is the 100th anniversary of both Alberto Ginastera's and Henri Dutilleux's births, so it's timely to be featuring their music.”

“As soon as we started working on the Ginastera for the first time we knew that we wanted to eventfully record it. And a few years later we did just that, along with his other two fantastic string quartets, and we're very honored to have been nominated for a Grammy for that recording. The music is thrillingly energetic and rhythmic, and is basically Ginastera's incorporation of Argentinian folk music into his own compositional style,” added Belcher. “Dutilleux's 'Ainsi la Nuit' couldn't be more different than Ginastera's first quartet. It is an incredible exploration of sounds and impressions of the world of night, and all the fantasy that can conjure. It's an incredibly focused work - structurally it is bound together in a very symmetrical way, with the movements working as a palindrome. It's a beautiful, poetic work that we adore.”

“Ravel's only quartet was a piece we learned in our first year together as a group at Yale University. We've returned to it many times over the years because it's such a unique, stunningly exquisite work. At the time it was written, a lot of the sounds were considered 'exotic' - influences of Asian and Spanish music are clear. This 'exoticism' is part of what gives the piece such a special sound world, which is always fun for us to explore. It always feel very fitting to return to the Ravel, and we're really looking forward to performing it in Minnesota,” shared Belcher.

Artaria String Quartet, Glider Trio, and Cellist and Vocalist Parker Ousley perform next in the concert series with a program that explores relationships between classical and jazz. Artaria String Quartet, who was featured on Minnesota Original on Twin Cities Public Television and served as artists-in-residence with MPR, also invests time with youth interested in string music by founding and directing their own chamber music school that offers programming and partakes in a southern Minnesota festival and national competitions each year, according to their website

There will be a special mix of the arts at the August 23 concert, where the audience will experience “interspersing poetry and music throughout the course of the program,” said Bonnie Jean Flom, chair of the Arts and Culture Commission (ACC) of the City of Northfield. “We are delighted this year to be able to collaborate with the Bridge Chamber Music Festival at the Grand Event Center.”

Similar to the Bridge Chamber Music Festival’s mission, the ACC’s Sidewalk Poetry project of Northfield also strives to nurture youth in the arts and appeal to all ages. Flom shared that The Arts and Culture Commission uses a blind judging process, so they don’t know names or ages. “In fact, in the first year of the contest, we had a 9-year-old winner. And every year since then, we have had at least one student winner from the elementary, middle school, high school, and college levels,” said Flom. Great anticipation builds for area poets as the first Northfield Poet Laureate will be named that evening.

The weekend brings The Dave Hagedorn Trio, with special guest New York-based trombonist J.C. Sanford, to present a program of original and standard jazz works. An exciting young violinist Sonja Harasim joins Artist Director David Carter, St. Olaf College professor of music – cello, and pianist Esther Wang in Brahms’ Piano Trio Op. 87. In addition that evening, the Stone Arch Brass will perform a variety of works from the Renaissance to the late Romantic eras to conclude the music series.

For a full list of dates, locations, and concert times visit


Amy Acheson is a freelance writer in southern Minnesota and a board member of the Bridge Chamber Music Festival.