The winter’s lack of snow is about to be filled by Beethoven.
Yes, that’s right — the life and legacy of German composer Ludwig van Beethoven are coming to Fargo-Moorhead, celebrated and showcased by the area’s arts organizations, eateries, breweries and library.
BeethovenFest, the inaugural winter arts festival by WinterArts, spans Jan. 31 to March 1, highlighting Beethoven’s life in everything from film to theater to specialty beer. What started out as a collaboration between Theatre B and the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony exploded into a community-wide cultural festival.
“It was a conversation between us and the symphony, in particular Linda Boyd,” Brad Delzer, program coordinator at Theatre B, said. “She really was championing the play ’33 Variations.'”
Penned by Moises Kaufman, “33 Variations” follows a musicologist fighting ALS as she races to understand Beethoven’s motivation for composing the Diabelli Variations, which are 33 variations on one waltz.
Boyd, executive director of the symphony, fulfills the role of that musicologist character, Dr. Katherine Brandt, for the play running Feb. 6-28.
With Theatre B’s Beethoven piece, and the symphony putting on its “All-Beethoven” concert (see page ##) around the same time, the two arts organizations teamed up, and the collaboration produced the first WinterArts festival. Aimed at filling February with a month of educative entertainment around an artist or icon, this first festival will determine where WinterArts goes from here; although, Shakespeare is already slotted for 2016.
“(It’s) some way to try to break down the tendency to get in a silo that can happen,” Delzer said of WinterArts, “and for a way to do that that doesn’t require everyone to try to add more to the work that they’re doing, but a way for them to be challenged creatively in the work that they’re already doing, so the idea of a winter arts festival is what came out of that.”
Beyond “All-Beethoven” and “33 Variations,” BeethovenFest will see free events at the Main branch of the Fargo Public Library ranging from a film screening to a cello/clarinet/piano recital to an art installation piece involving sound and movement.
“One thing about having the library as a part of this community arts fest is we can keep these events free, as well,” Lori West, branch services manager of the library, said.
Meanwhile the Fargo, Junkyard and Drekker brewing companies are all concocting specialty beers for weekly happy hours in February, brews all themed with Beethoven, such as Junkyard’s “Deaf Guy” and Drekker’s “Extra Special Beethoven.”
Trivia at Rhombus Guys Pizza, art workshops at the Plains Art Museum and “Beethoven Lives Upstairs” at the Fargo Theatre plus more events are all lined up as part of the festival.
It all ends on March 1 when the F-M Symphony takes to Fargo Billiards and Gastropub for “BEERthoven & Brats.”
For now, a 30-day stretch of Beethoven events lies in front of Fargo-Moorhead, a month of outings both educational and entertaining for all involved, planners and participants.
“It’s been fun, and we’re looking forward. We’re hoping it continues on next year,” West said of 2016’s outlook on a ShakespeareFest. “I think that will be very fun as well.”