Summer Barn series to add American twist

Music will return to the Barn at Prairie Pines for the 14th summer beginning June 6, when acoustic folk-blues band Trio Globo kicks off the season at Chamber Music at the Barn.

This year's programming will feature two concerts of classical chamber music — one featuring Baroque music, another sumptuous Slavonic fare — and two with an American twist. Nashville fiddler Matt Combs will play traditional country and bluegrass to precede the Fourth of July weekend, and the season will conclude with a Civil War-themed program with historic exhibits and re-enactors.

Like all Wichita arts groups, Chamber Music at the Barn is feeling the negative effects of a down economy. With fewer donations and less underwriting, the series for the second summer in a row will offer four concerts instead of five.

(The Trio Globo concert is a special, one-night-only season kickoff.)

"We go forth with joy because we are still around," said artistic director Catherine Consiglio.

To help save money, musicians and staff took a pay cut last summer, reductions that will stay in place during the upcoming season.

"We're not in panic mode," said executive director Bob Scott, owner of the Barn at Prairie Pines. "We're in survival mode, which means we hunker down and tough it out."

The festival maintains a cache with classical music lovers. Scott said a recent event raised $9,000 in donations for the group.

So the upcoming season will retain the feel of past summers. Performers include some of Wichita's finest musicians; out-of-town guests generally have some tie to Kansas. Cellist Eugene Friesen, who will kick off the season with his Trio Globo on June 6, is well-known to Wichita music lovers — he's premiered new pieces at Chamber Music at the Barn and played in the area many times.

Also as in the past, Chamber Music at the Barn is not afraid to mix new ideas with the tried-and-true. Concerts to conclude the season July 28-30 will feature authentic music from the Civil War era and a display of historic artifacts, including muskets, knives, bullets, uniforms and accessories. Costumed re-enactors will simulate Army life, and percussionist J.C. Combs will narrate the concerts and tie the music to the lives of the soldiers.

"I love this stuff we play, classical music," Consiglio said. "But if we just keep doing the same thing the same way over and over, it's not going to be around. So I'm always looking for something new and exciting that might bring new people to our concerts."

Here's more of what's in store at Chamber Music at the Barn this summer:

June 6 — Trio Globo

The acoustic trio features cellist Eugene Friesen, harmonica player Howard Levy and percussionist Glen Velez playing a hybrid of folk, world music, the classics and the blues. The trio will begin a Kansas tour at the Barn, with stops in McPherson, Lucas and at the Smoky Hill River Festival in Salina.

June 16-18 — Baroque Music

The performance features Baroque pieces for accompanied strings and a special performance by Lynne Davis, organist at Wichita State University, this time playing the harpsichord. Davis will perform solo selections from Bach's "The Well-Tempered Clavier" and his jaunty Concerto for Harpsichord.

June 30-July 2 — Nashville fiddling

Bluegrass fiddling by Matt Combs, a star of Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. Combs' quartet — including his wife, Rachel Combs, on guitar; Luke Richardson, banjo; and Ben Sanders, cello — will play traditional country and mountain tunes.

July 14-16 — Dohnanyi and Dvorak

The evening of romantic Hungarian music includes the rarely heard Serenade for String Trio by Erno von Dohnanyi and the beloved "Dumky" Piano Trio by Dvorak. Featured will be pianist James Knight from Friends University, plus violinist Keith Redpath and cellist Emmanuel Lopez from the Harrington Quartet from Texas.

July 28-30 — Music from the Civil War

History meets music when strings, winds and piano perform songs from the American Civil War, with commentary by percussionist J.C. Combs. Historic arms and articles carried by Union and Rebel soldiers will be on display; re-enactors will help concertgoers better understand the experiences of the battlefields. The concert will conclude with Copland's iconic "Appalachian Spring."

If you go

chamber music at the barn

What: Classical and acoustic chamber music concerts

Where: The Barn at Prairie Pines, 4055 N. Tyler Road

When: Season opening concert with Trio Globo at 8 p.m. June 6. All remaining concerts 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays; dinner at 6:30 p.m. Concert doors open 7:45 p.m.

How much: Season tickets are $140 for dinner and four concerts (barn seating); $80 for four concerts (barn seating); $40 for four concerts (garden seating). Single tickets are $22 for barn seating; $12 for garden seating. Dinner is $15, must be purchased in advance.

Note: Trio Globo concert sold as single tickets only.

For more information, visit www.cmatb.org or call 316-721-7666.