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Festival of the Lakes to kick off Saturday

The 2013 Alexandria Festival of the Lakes will celebrate the centenary of Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), English composer, conductor and pianist.

The 21st annual professional chamber music concert series is slated for August 3, 11, 14 and 18 at United Methodist Church in Alexandria.

Adult tickets are $15 and can be obtained at Cherry Street Books in Alexandria, (320) 763-9400. Students may attend for free. The concert series is funded in part by a grant from the Lake Region Arts Council through a Minnesota state legislative appropriation.

For more information, visit the website


Saturday, August 3, 7:30 p.m.

Camille Saint-Saens: Oboe Sonata

Benjamin Britten: Canticle III: Still Falls the Rain

Felix Mendelssohn: Concertpiece #1, Op. 113

Benjamin Britten: Folksong Arrangements, Book 3

Wolfgang Mozart: Quintet for Piano & Winds

Personnel: Dan Dressen, John Snow, Jennifer Gerth, J. Christopher Marshall, Ellen Smith, Susan Billmeyer, Sonja Thompson

Sunday, August 11, 7 p.m.

Edvard Grieg: Violin Sonata #1 in F Major

Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonata for Piano and Cello in A Major, Op. 69

Benjamin Britten: Lachrymae

Robert Schumann: Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47

Personnel: Jill Olson, Tamás Strasser, Richard Bock, Dina Namer, Sonja Thompson

Wednesday, August 14, 7:30 p.m.

Johannes Brahms: 6 lieder

Malcolm Forsyth: Eclectic Suite for cello and piano

Ludwig Spohr: 6 Songs for mezzo, violin & piano, Op. 154

Joaquín Turina: Piano Trio #1 in D Major, Op. 35

Benjamin Britten: Canticle II: Abraham and Isaac

Personnel: Emily Lodine, Dan Dressen, Jill Olson, Sarah Lewis, Dina Namer, Sonja Thompson

Sunday, August 18, 7 p.m.

Benjamin Britten: Phantasy in F minor for string quintet

Franz Schubert: 5 lieder

Benjamin Britten: A Charm of Lullabies

Claude Debussy: 5 chansons

Antonín Dvorák: String Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 97

Personnel: Emily Lodine, Jill Olson, Colin McGuire, Tamás Strasser, David Auerbach, Sarah Lewis, Sonja Thompson


Colin McGuire, violin

McGuire grew up in Mankato and began to study violin at age 4. McGuire played full-time with the Thunder Bay Symphony until returning to Minnesota. He now holds a permanent seat in the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra as associate concertmaster. Other orchestral opportunities include the Minnesota Orchestra, Mill City Opera, Music St. Croix and others. McGuire has performed and traveled as a soloist and chamber musician. Recently, he formed the Hennepin String Quartet and has played with larger chamber ensembles, where performances have ranged from German Salon music to a chamber reduction of Mahler Symphony No. 4. McGuire is also a tennis teaching pro and coach.

Dan Dressen, tenor

Dressen is professor of music and associate provost at St. Olaf College in Northfield, where he is building a Nordic art song center. He serves with the Commission on Accreditation for the National Association of Schools of Music, Northfield Arts and Culture Commission, Minneapolis/St. Paul chapter of the Edvard Grieg Society and Northfield Youth Choirs.

He has numerous operatic performances to his credit, and has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Chorale, Dale Warland Singers, Bach Society and Schubert Club's Summer Art Song Festival.

He has performed title roles with VocalEssence of Minneapolis and is tenor soloist at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis.

David Auerbach, viola

Auerbach received a master's degree from the Juilliard School, a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in music performance and molecular biology and a doctor of musical arts degree from Stony Brook University.

He has given solo and collaborative recitals throughout New England and the Midwest, and has been a prize winner in several competitions. Auerbach has participated in the music festivals of Ravinia, Kneisel Hall and Norfolk, and has performed with chamber groups in Carnegie's Weill and Zankel Recital Halls.

He moved to the Twin Cities in 2007. He is principal violist of the Minnesota Opera Orchestra, has played with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra for the last several seasons, is a substitute with the Minnesota Orchestra, and plays with numerous other local chamber groups.

He continues to perform regularly elsewhere, including with the chamber orchestra A Far Cry, based in Boston. He recently joined the faculty of the University of St Thomas and maintains a private teaching studio.

Dina Michelson Namer, piano

Born in New York City, Namer now resides in Ottawa, Canada. Formal studies were at Eastman and Manhattan Schools of Music, from which she received a master's in piano performance.

She has had an extensive career as a harpsichordist and pianist and is associated with the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada in Ottawa.

Namer taught piano performance at Ottawa, Carleton and Queen's Universities in Canada; she currently teaches piano, harpsichord and chamber music performance at Queen's University and runs a private studio in Ottawa.

She has been a member of the Aulos Ensemble, Ottawa Baroque Ensemble, Kingston Baroque Soloists and Sh'ma Ensemble.

Since 1995, Namer has performed regularly in the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, Festival Music and Beyond, and Alexandria Festival of the Lakes. She performs on Minnesota Public Radio, the CBC and Radio Canada.

Ellen Dinwiddie Smith, horn

Smith, a Minnesota Orchestra horn player, is a chamber music series creator, guest soloist, performer and private instructor.

She is artistic director of the Colonial Chamber Series in Edina and has been guest soloist with the National Repertory Orchestra, Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, Kenwood Symphony Orchestra, Linden Hills Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra.

She collaborated with the Dale Warland Singers on their CD, was a soloist in Bat Yiftach, was a featured artist at the 2003 International Horn Society Workshop at Indiana University, served as faculty at the Kendell Betts Horn Camp, and performed at the Spoleto, Waterloo, Chautauqua, Keystone, Colorado Philharmonic and Aspen Summer Music Festivals.

The Curtis institute of Music graduate also attended the Juilliard School and University of Texas at Austin. She joined Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra as co-principal horn.

Smith maintains a teaching studio in the Twin Cities and is adjunct professor of horn at Bethel College.

Jennifer Gerth, clarinet

Principal clarinet of the Duluth-Superior Symphony and an active member of the Twin Cities musical community, Gerth frequently performs with the Minnesota Orchestra, VocalEssence, the Mill City Opera and the Minnesota Dance Theatre. She is on the faculty at Augsburg College, the University of St. Thomas, and teaches and performs at Birch Creek Performance Center in Door County, Wisconsin.

Emily Lodine, mezzo soprano

Lodine has appeared with the symphonies of Jacksonville, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Detroit, South Dakota, Phoenix, Rochester, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Philip Glass Ensemble.

A Music of the Baroque soloist, she recorded Von Himmel Hoch and received acclaim for her work in Pulitzer Prize-nominated Requiem.

She has also performed with Wichita Symphony, Chicago's Rembrandt Players, South Dakota Symphony, Chicago Chamber Musicians, Houston Chamber Music Society, Houston Masterworks Chorus, Anchorage Opera, Lyra Baroque Orchestra of Minneapolis, Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony and the Ravinia Festival.

Opera credits include Summer, Semele and La Cenerentola with Berkshire Opera, Falstaff with Pine Mountain Music Festival, The Rape of Lucretia with Lyric Opera Cleveland, The Marriage of Figaro with Opera Grand Rapids, Bon Appétit with Madison Opera, Madama Butterfly and Orfeo ed Euridice with Anchorage Opera.

A graduate of Indiana University, Lodine is a member of the Grammy-nominated vocal ensemble Conspirare.

J. Christopher Marshall, bassoon

Marshall, a Texas native and member of the Minnesota Orchestra since 1999, made his debut as soloist with the orchestra in Dietter's Concerto for Two Bassoons on the 2008 Minnesota State Tour. At Sommerfest 2008 he reprised the work.

He has performed works of Beethoven, Françaix, Jolivet and Andrès on the Orchestra's Chamber Music at MacPhail series. He is also a member of the Prevailing Winds quintet.

The former member of Florida's New World Symphony has performed with the Boston Pops and National Symphony, and participated in numerous music festivals, including Tanglewood and Spoleto USA. As a clinician, he has led master classes and sectionals for several orchestras.

He won a 2009 McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians and graduated from Northwestern University with degrees in bassoon performance and mechanical engineering. He later earned a master's degree at the New England Conservatory of Music. He lives in Plymouth with his wife Kari, the orchestra's artistic administrator, and their sons.

John Snow, oboe

Snow, associate principal oboe, became a member of the Minnesota Orchestra in 1999. He is former principal oboe of the New Zealand Symphony and former acting principal for ensembles such as the Santa Fe Opera, Orchestra of St. Luke's and Pittsburgh Symphony. He won two McKnight Fellowships for Performing Musicians.

Snow performs with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and is co-founder of the Detroit Chamber Winds, New Zealand Soloists and Talisman Trio.

He appeared at the Norfolk Festival, Sarasota Music Festival, Victoria Bach Festival, Classicfest, Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Festival, Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Oregon Bach Festival and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

He received a master's degree in music from the Yale School of Music, has adjudicated/presented master classes across the U.S. and New Zealand, served on the faculties of State University of New York at Geneseo, Ithaca College, St. Olaf College, Victoria University of Wellington, was a visiting professor at the Eastman School of Music and joined the faculty of the School of Music at University of Minnesota in 2000.

Before moving to Minneapolis, Snow was professor of oboe at the University of Texas.

Susan Billmeyer, piano

Billmeyer has performed throughout the U.S. as a recitalist and collaborative pianist. She has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra since 2005, and joined them for European tours in 2006 and 2010. She is also heard with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

She has performed with ICE (the Intergalactic Contemporary Ensemble), Zeitgeist, Present Music, and the Indiana University New Music Ensemble and has appeared on the BIS and Innova labels. She is a founding member of the Hot Dish Trio.

Billmeyer holds degrees from Oberlin Conservatory, Indiana University, the University of Minnesota and Oberlin College. Billmeyer's academic positions include a visiting professorship in piano and theory at the University of Richmond and guest instructorship at the MacPhail Center for the Arts. She lives and teaches in Minneapolis.

Richard Bock, cello

Bock, principal cellist with The Phoenix Symphony, began cello studies at age 12 at The Juilliard School. At 18 he became principal cellist of the American Symphony Orchestra, the youngest principal player in the orchestra's history.

He served as principal cellist for the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra in Italy, solo cellist with the Musicus Concentus Chamber players touring Italy and Germany, soloist with the Pro-Arte Chamber Orchestra touring the Soviet Union and member of the Soviet Emigre Orchestra touring North and South America.

In 1981, he became principal cellist of the Buffalo Philharmonic. There he founded the Westminster Chamber Orchestra.

He was soloist with the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra and artist in residence at the School of Fine Arts at the University of Arizona. He held a similar position at Arizona State University's School of Music. His recordings include Mosaic, the Rozsa Simphonia Concertante, The Paul Winter Consort and Three Intermezzi for Cello.

In 2009, Bock's Phoenix restaurant, Giuseppe's on 28th, was featured on the Food Network's series Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

Sarah Lewis, cello

Lewis is in her 14th season with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO). The St. Paul native started piano lessons at MacPhail Center for the Arts at age 3. She holds degrees from Southern Methodist University and Juilliard School. Prior to joining the SPCO, She was a member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and performed as a substitute with the Minnesota Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic.

She has performed solo and chamber recitals in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Twin Cities.

During the summer, she's been a featured performer at the Alexandria Festival of the Lakes and Lakes Chamber Music Festival, and has played in the Music in the Vineyards festival in California.

Lewis previously toured and recorded with Lorie Line, and can be heard on recordings of Peter Ostroushko.

She lives in Edina with her family.

Sonja Thompson, piano

Thompson is active as a performer, educator and vocal coach. A graduate of The Juilliard School, she has appeared locally and nationally in a variety of performance settings with both singers and instrumentalists. In addition to performing, Thompson is assistant professor of music at Augsburg College and assistant music director at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis.

Tamás Strasser, viola

Strasser has been violist with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) since 1975. He was previously a member of the Kansas City Philharmonic, U.S. Army Strings, New Art String Quartet and Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, has performed with The Vienna Trio and the Muir, Moscow and Bakken string quartets, and has been a soloist with the Santa Fe Opera, the SPCO and Kansas City Symphony, among others.

He served as artist-in-residence for the North Carolina School of the Arts and on the faculties of Madeline Island Music Camp and Macalester College and taught master classes at the University of Minnesota and Kansas City Conservatory, among others.

He received a bachelor's degree from the Kansas City Conservatory and master's degree from the Catholic University in Washington, D.C. He serves on the faculty at the University of St. Thomas.

He has performed as principal violist with the Wintergreen Festival, Colorado Music Festival and Aspen Chamber Symphony. He plays principal viola for the Music in the Mountains Festival in California, and participates in the Arizona Musicfest and Alexandria Festival of the Lakes.

Jill Olson Moser, violin

Moser performs extensively as an orchestral and chamber musician in the Twin Cities. She is a regular substitute with the Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Opera Orchestra and is a founding member of the Hennepin String Quartet.

Moser was the concertmaster of the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony and the Fargo-Moorhead Opera Orchestra and a member of the Britt Festival and Wintergreen Performing Arts Orchestras in Oregon and Virginia, as well as the Heidelberg Schlossfestspiele in Germany.

She is a native of Nebraska and a graduate of the Eastman School of Music in  New York. She studied chamber music with members of the American String Quartet and the Cleveland Quartet. She has an active Suzuki violin studio and is on the faculty of Gustavus Adolphus College.