June 11, 2009

Music festival returns to Benton, Sesser

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Klassics for Kids, a traditional part of the Southern Illinois Music Festival hosted by Southern Illinois University Carbondale, returns to Benton this summer.

A free Klassics for Kids concert begins at 10 a.m. on June 23 at Peoples National Bank, featuring a wind quintet. Klassics for Kids is an interactive program designed specifically for the youngest listeners, from as young as newborn to about pre-school age. Edward M. Benyas, artistic director of the festival, and his wife, musician Kara Benyas, designed the program format to help introduce young listeners to classical and jazz music.

Klassics for Kids also comes to the Sesser Opera House, with a 10 a.m. performance on June 24, featuring a string quartet and a piano quintet.

Later that night, the string quartet is a feature of a chamber music concert at the opera house. That concert begins at 7:30. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $3 for students.

A second morning and evening concert combination comes again to the Sesser Opera House on July 1. The 10 a.m. concert is Jive with Jazz, another children’s program, but this one is designed for school age children and features the New Arts Jazztet.

The evening concert is at 7:30 p.m., and features the New Arts Jazztet with a tango quartet. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $3 for students.

New Arts Jazztet is the premier jazz group in Southern Illinois, and its members are comfortable in the big cities of Chicago and Cincinnati (among others), where they have guested at some of the hottest jazz clubs in the Midwest. The jazztet was part of the Chicago-based WTTW-Channel 11 special broadcast “Arts Across Illinois: Center Stage” in 2004. Now it is part of the Illinois Arts Council’s 2007-2009 Artstour Artist Roster.

New Arts Jazztet is SIUC School of Music faculty members Dick Kelley on saxophones, Bob Allison on trumpet and flugelhorn, Tim Pritchford on trombone, Phil Brown on bass and Ron Coulter on drums and percussion. Mel Goot on piano rounds out the membership.

The Southern Illinois Music Festival is a multi-venue festival bringing classical and jazz music to the greater Southern Illinois and Metro East area. For a complete schedule of all festival events and information about the artists, visit www.sifest.com.