By Brian Hurlbut for the Big Sky Weekly

As the sun set behind Lone Peak
on the final night of last weekend’s
inaugural Big Sky Classical Music
Festival, and the clouds radiated
colors of orange and red while the
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet played
a selection from Spanish composer
Manuel de Falla.

The free festival,
organized by the
Arts Council of
Big Sky, featured
internationally
recognized musicians
that traveled
to Big Sky
for the weekend.
Thanks to the
generosity of
Big Sky Resort,
the performers
stayed at the
Huntley Lodge.
All of them
commented on
the excellent
hospitality they
received – some
even mentioned it was the best ever
– and these artists travel all over the
world.

The festival started off on Friday
night with the Ahn Trio, three
Korean-born sisters who look as
good as they play. Often seen in the
pages of various glamour magazines
for their stunning beauty, Angella,
Lucia and Maria brought the house
down with their eclectic combination
of compositions, including
“Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano,”
by Leonard Bernstein. The highlight
was “Yu Rynug,” by jazz
composer Pat Metheny,
written especially for the
Ahns. The trio closed
with a chilling encore of
“Riders on the Storm”
by the Doors – not your
typical classical music
selection.

Saturday
night’s
performance
featured the
New York
city-based
Cassatt
String Quartet.
The
most classical
of the
three nights,
this beautiful
string
quartet
wowed the
audience with compositions
from Schubert,
Dvorak and Gershwin.
The Schubert
piece, “Quartet in D Minor,” also
called “Death and the Maiden,” was
one of the highlights of the festival,
featuring five variations in the
second movement.

For the finale on Sunday, the
Grammy-winning Los Angeles
Guitar Quartet put a six-string flair
on the festival. With a combination
of classical, world and jazz styles,
the guitarists’ sound resonated
throughout the Town Center. Especially
good was a medley featuring
three jazz tunes from John Coltrane
and Miles Davis, and the recognizable
“Carmen” by George Bizet. As
the quartet ended, the crowd gave
them a huge standing ovation, and
the festival came to a close.

The openers each night were local
youth ensembles. Basement Jazz,
a group of teenagers – mostly girls
– from Bozeman that won over the
crowd. Especially impressive were
guitarist Caroline Janssen and bassist
Colleen Schmidt.

The Cassatt String Quartet held an
open rehearsal on Sunday morning
in the Talus Room at the Summit
Hotel in the Mountain Village.
About 30 people listened to an
educational, emotional and inspirational
performance. The Ahn
sisters also hosted a Masters Class
for young musicians on Saturday
morning.

The weekend festival is poised to
become a tradition each summer
in Big Sky. Hard work was put in
by volunteers, board members and
staff of the Arts Council, and many
local businesses stepped in to help
out. Primary sponsors included
the Yellowstone Club Community
Foundation, the Robert and Dana
Smith Family Foundation, the Montana
Department of Commerce and
the Big Sky Resort Area District.

Next summer’s festival will be
Aug. 10-12, 2012. Judging by the
response from this year, the festival
should have no problem hitting an
even higher note next year.