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Chamber music at noon

Mika Inouye, artistic director of the Durango Chamber Music Festival, has conjured up another series of surprising noontime recitals. The 2023 festival runs every day next week, June 5 to 9, starting at 12:15 p.m. in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. It’s one of the many gifts the originator and retiring director of 3rd Ave. Arts, C. Scott Hagler, has given to the community. Hagler passed the artistic director’s baton to Inouye a dozen years ago.

“Mika has taken on so many components of the organization,” Hagler said. “That includes the late spring festival, the summer camps program and the new Musician Makers scholarship program. And she performs when and wherever the need arises. Mika is an amazing woman and extremely talented musician.”

If you go

WHAT: 15th annual Durango Chamber Music Festival, five concerts, five days.

WHEN: 12:15 p.m. weekdays, Monday through Friday (June 5-9).

WHERE: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 910 East Third Ave.

TICKETS: $65 adult festival pass, $30 student pass, 12-under free. Individual concerts are $15 each at the door or online.

MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.durangochambermusic.com or call 903-8854.

From its inception 15 years ago, the Chamber Music Festival was designed to fill in a gap in the local musical scene, after the San Juan Symphony season and the many concerts and recitals at Fort Lewis College.

“The early June festival at St. Mark’s is full of uniquely programmed chamber music performed by remarkable musicians in a beautiful, intimate venue,” Hagler said. “With Mika’s boundless connections, she has gathered together an array of top musicians with unusual programs.”

Mika Inouye, artistic director of the Durango Chamber Music Festival, photographed at the conclusion of the Music Makers Scholarship program May. 7. (Courtesy of Judith Reynolds)

Monday’s program welcomes back long-term Durango friends cellist Dieter Wulfhorst and violinist Susan Doering. They will perform a variety of works with flutist Rochelle Mann.

Tuesday’s recital features duets and solos by two beloved local singers, soprano Gemma Kavanaugh and mezzo Nan Wagner. Among other works, they will sing “The Flower Duet” from Léo Delibes’ opera “Lakmé.”

On Wednesday, comic choreography and song will be combined when the Durango Chamber Singers perform under the direction of Elizabeth Crawford. She’s been aided by singer-choreographer Marilyn Leftwich, and together they have concocted “Creatures!” Last week, the group gave a sneak peak of “Stray Cat Strut” at the Choral Society’s Cabaret. The audience responded with yelps, guffaws and a standing ovation.

Thursday’s program may run over time as three sets of performers are scheduled to play. Kyle Osborne and Linda Mack Berven will jolly up a piano-four-hands version of “Chop Sticks.” You read that right – “Chop Sticks.” In addition, the duo will wrestle up works by Giaochino Rossini and John Williams. Two guys from New Mexico, cellist Hans Freuden and pianist Levi Brown, return to classical sanity by way of Felix Mendelssohn. And lastly, Mika Inouye and Sarah Inouye Mano will conclude with more four-hand piano pyrotechnics.

On Friday, a sextet of woodwinds, horn and piano will play chamber works by Poulenc and Eun-Chul Oh. Something old and something new, presumably.

A festival and its future

Recently, a rumor has gone around that 2023 might be the last Durango Chamber Music Festival, partly because of Hagler’s retirement and the absorption of 3rd Ave. Arts under the umbrella of the San Juan Symphony.

Not true, says Chandra Stubbs, executive director of the Symphony. The 2024 Chamber Music Festival has already been scheduled. “June 3-7, 2024,” she noted in an email recently. That’s good news, so mark your calendars for next year.

Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.