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Top world musicians returning for festival

Fort Macleod International Festival artistic director Rivka Golani.

Pianist and composer Anton Kuerti returns for the second year to Fort Macleod International Festival.

Rivka Golani came to Fort Macleod to perform in a recital and left with the inspiration for a music festival.
One of the top five viola players in the world, Golani performed in a recital at the Empress Theatre and was asked by then-executive director Gerard Gibbs if she would come back.
“I will,” said Golani, who is artistic director of the Fort Macleod International Festival. “And I will bring my friends.”
Golani’s first visit to Fort Macleod resulted in the Windy Mountain Music Festival, which has since transformed into the Fort Macleod International Festival.
From May 25-30 some of the best musicians in the world will perform seven concerts in three centres during the sixth annual festival.
Golani said Thursday from London she knew little about Fort Macleod before she arrived, only that it was on the prairies.
“I found it extremely inspiring,” Golani said of the town of 3,071 residents. “I so loved it.”
Musicians from around the world now come to Fort Macleod to collaborate, create and perform in a variety of settings, which this year includes the Empress, The Galt Museum, the Grand Theatre in Calgary and Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.
The musicians, who this year come from Canada, the United States, Venezuela, Japan, Hungary and Israel, enjoy the chance to work together without interruption.
“Everybody wants to come back,” Golani said.
That includes pianist and composer Anton Kuerti, a Canadian who has performed with most major North American orchestras.
“It’s wonderful to bring music to smaller communities,” Kuerti said Thursday from Toronto. “They deserve to have some chance to appreciate great music.”
Kuerti’s composition Piano Quintet will have its world premiere during the Fort Macleod International festival.
The Empress Theatre launched the 2011 Fort Macleod International Festival on Thursday at the Galt Museum.
The first performance of the festival is May 25 at the Galt Museum in conjunction with a new exhibit titled “The Greatest Years You Never Knew.”
“The music they’re playing here is linked to the time period of our special display,” Galt Museum community program co-ordinator Leslie Hall said.
The exhibit will showcase Lethbridge history from 1906-’13.
University of Lethbridge professor Brian Black will give a pre-concert talk.
“I think it enhances the experience,” Hall said.
Performances will also be held May 26, May 28 and May 29 at the Empress Theatre, May 27 and May 28 at the Grand Theatre and May 30 at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.
Musicians will also go into local schools to lead Project Muse, and there will be a family-oriented concert titled Music Unwrapped.
Chinook, a piece by Stephen Montague of Britain commissioned for the festival, will be performed by Golani with conductor Melanie Leonard and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra on May 28 at the Grand Theatre.
Musicians performing in the festival include Barry Shiffman on viola, Hillel Zori and Beth Ruth Sandvoss on cello, Gerard Gibbs on oboe, violinists Edmond Agopian, Ofer Folk and John Lowry, pianists Anton Kuerti, Kevin Fitz-Gerald and Bernadene Blaha, and bassist David Brown.
“These are just the most superb musicians,” Empress Theatre executive director Brent Hutchinson said.
Conductors are Melanie Leonard and Nic Pendlebury.
Amadinda Percussion Group from Hungary will also perform at the festival.
For ticket information call 403-553-4404 or visit

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