Aaron Cain: I'm Aaron Cain for WFIU Arts. ChamberFest Brown County is in full swing. The artistic director of ChamberFest Brown County is pianist Andreas Ioannides, and he recently spoke with me about this year's festival in the WFIU studios. So the festival is happening. It's ongoing. So how is it going so far?
Andreas Ioannides: It's going great. Our numbers have never been higher. The first concert was packed. We had a full house at the United Methodist Church and things are going just great.
Aaron Cain: This is year three of the festival. And you got started with this festival in an interesting situation, because there wasn't really a pre-COVID reality for the festival.
Andreas Ioannides: Yeah, we started it at the tail end of COVID. We, you know, we had people with masks performing and even audience members were, you know, were all masked. And it was kind of an interesting beginning to our festival. But it became easier and easier each year, and people are packing our venues, so it's really, really exciting to see that there is an audience for classical music in rural Indiana.
Aaron Cain: How has the feedback been so far with the first couple of concerts? What are people saying to you?
Andreas Ioannides: They love it. We've had people comment on the diversity of the repertoire of the concerts that we're providing, everything from early music to voice and piano concerts. We even have a flamenco night. We have instruments like the harp, which you don't often see in chamber music settings. We have world class string quartets coming. So I think audiences are excited to see so much variety packed into a week. They've been very, very complimentary and encouraging and they really want us to continue and to keep growing.
Aaron Cain: You talked about a moment ago, but could you tell me more about Thursday night’s program La Noche Flamenca, the evening of flamenco music?
Andreas Ioannides: Yeah, we're really excited about that one. So that happens on Thursday, which is kind of right in the middle of the week. And it functions also as a palette cleanser, let's say, because we have some heavy music before and after that concert. But yeah, these are flamenco artists from Chicago. Many of them are part of the famous Ensemble Español based in Chicago, and they're just going to be offering really exotic night of Spanish classical guitar and flamenco. We have a cajon player, voice, dance, guitar. So for those who are looking for something a little bit different, we really encourage them to check that concert out. And that's going to be the only concert that's happening in the Brown County Playhouse. And it's also our only concert that requires a ticket.
Aaron Cain: Let's talk about what you have on the program for Friday. You have clarinet quintet and a string quartet of Mozart, and you have the Octet for Strings by Mendelssohn. And those are some heavy hitters of chamber music.
Andreas Ioannides: The title of the concert is “Youthful Exuberance.” And the reason for that is that both the early Mozart quartet and the Mendelssohn octet were written by teenage composers. The Mendelssohn, in particular, is probably one of the greatest pieces ever written by a 16 year old. It's just such a joy to perform and to listen to. And the Mozart string quartet was written during his time as a touring prodigy in Milan. And then right in the middle we have the Clarinet Quintet, which is one of the great masterpieces of Mozart, which he wrote towards the end of his life. He only lived to be 35, so we can't really call it a late composition, in some sense, but by that time his music was fully, fully mature. And that's one of the most beautiful works in the chamber music canon.
Aaron Cain: Well, speaking of tremendous composers of chamber music who left the Earth far too early, in the final evening program you start with Schubert.
Andreas Ioannides: Yes, indeed. Schubert lived to be 31, I believe, and he had one of the most remarkable final years, creatively speaking, of any composer. Some of his greatest works were written during that final year of his life, including this piano trio, which was one of the few pieces that he actually heard live. And it was a success right from the beginning. Schumann, the great romantic composer, described it as “a musical comet.” It's very dynamic and features dance and rhythm as a unifying element throughout the four movements. It's one of those pieces that really transforms the listener throughout the journey of listening to it, I think. So we're really looking forward to performing that and I'm really looking forward to playing it.
Aaron Cain: That's right. You're performing on that program. And you're bringing it all home with the culminating work on the culminating performance with Piazzolla.
Andreas Ioannides: [laughs] Yeah! Well, to be honest, we were still debating whether we should finish with the Schubert or the Piazzolla. So I urge people to come and check out what we decide. The Piazzolla obviously could not be more different than the Shubert. The link here is that both pieces feature dances. And The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires are basically four tango pieces, each one named after a season. And they are just incredibly fun, groovy pieces. So I think it would be an interesting way to finish the concert after offering this big, 45-minute, heavy Schubert piece.
Aaron Cain: Well, Andreas, thank you so much for speaking with me today.
Andreas Ioannides: Thank you.
Aaron Cain: Andreas Ioannides. Pianist, educator and Artistic Director of ChamberFest Brown County. The festival is in its third year and performances continue this weekend. More information at the festival website: chamberfestbrowncounty.com. For WFIU Arts, I'm Aaron Cain.