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Bringing Brahms to lakes festival

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Bill Eddins
Pianist/composer Bill Eddins in the Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser studio. He's among the musicians opening the Alexandria Festival of the Lakes with a concert of Brahms.
MPR Photo/Karl Gehrke

Not far from the Twin Cities, Alexandria, Minn., has quietly played host to an annual summer music festival for 15 years.

Musicians, many of them from the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, seem to relish the chance to get away from the hustle of Minneapolis/St. Paul and present chamber music in a more peaceful location.

This year's lineup includes five festival concerts by a wide array of composers: Grieg, Martinu, Schumann and Messiaen are just a few. Friday's opening concert is devoted to Brahms, to commemorate the 175th anniversary of his birth.

Minnesota Orchestra violinist Stephanie Arado, Edmondton Symphony conductor/pianist Bill Eddins and clarinetist Jennifer Gerth are among the musicians playing on the festival's opening night. They stopped by Minnesota Public Radio's Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser studio to play some excerpts from a couple Brahms' sonatas.

They talked with classical music host Melissa Ousley about their love for Brahms, and why composers shouldn't write music for the clarinet until late in life.