Sunrise was officially at 5:19 a.m. Sunday, and as the sky lightened cyclists continued to ride in and grab breakfast in Grant Park. As they did the Beethoven Festival Orchestra treated the weary riders at this year’s L.A.T.E. ride to a performance at Buckingham Fountain. This isn’t your father’s concert orchestra. The percussionists presented a Steve Reich piece performed by clapping. Then the orchestra welcomed the riders and anyone else who was watching the sunrise at Buckingham Fountain.
Artistic Director George Lepauw, a concert pianist, was handing out information about the group to onlookers. The group was founded in 2011 to participate in the inaugural Beethoven Festival presented by the International Beethoven Project.
The BFO is a chamber orchestra that will perform with full orchestral capacity as they did on Sunday morning.
The specialty of the BFO is to perform “Academy Concerts” in the style of the academy concerts produced by Beethoven and his contemporaries. An academy, in the 18th and early 19th centuries, was a public concert that usually consisted of several segments, with multiple intermissions, the whole lasting at least four hours. The repertoire performed could be anything from symphonies to concerti to arias and sometimes even solo instrumental performances mixed in. Today, there is a thirst for creative programming, and the BFO aims to find many new ways to present great music.
This September, Lepauw invites the public to the second annual Beethoven Festival, presented by the International Beethoven Project. It will be a multi-disciplinary extravaganza, with more than 60 events over 9 days. Most events will be in Uptown, said Lepauw. Not wanting to miss a tie-in, the themes will be the Prometheus and Revolution through art, music, dance, and literature. Full artist and performance lineup to be announced.