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The Deer Valley Chamber Music Festival offers the first of 14 concerts this evening at 8 in the Snow Park Lodge, part of a series to extend over the next six weeks (July 22-Sept. 2) at the attractive ski and summer resort near Park City.

Thus begins a series of challenging and varied programs, featuring a wide-ranging roster of prestigious chamber artists from all over America.This evening's concert will include the Barber Sonata for Cello and Piano; the Beethoven Quintet in E-flat Major for piano and winds, Op. 16; the Martinu Quartet for clarinet, horn, cello and snare drum; and the Zemlinsky Trio for clarinet, cello and piano. Participating artists will be Robert Moeling, Maureen McDermott, Russell Harlow, Mitchell Morrison, William Barnewitz and Robert Stevenson.

"We are excited about this season," said Leslie Blackburn-Harlow, the festival's founding director, who has nurtured the series since 1984. "We have many new violinists this summer, and I'm excited about having Charles Castleman for the first time. When I was growing up in Texas I went to a summer music camp, the Quartet Program, which he ran in Troy, N.Y., and it was the greatest experience. He still runs the camp, but it's moved to Massachusetts now."

Lining up such a roster of artists is not easy, and Blackburn first finds the time of their availability, then plans programming accordingly.

Deer Valley programs lean heavily on the chamber music staples of Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Dvorak and Schubert, plus more contemporary composers such as Shostakovich, Weber and Messiaen. You will not find much avant garde music; contemporary, yes, but such composers as Martinu, Prokofiev and Webern are pretty much mainstream these days.

"We aim for interesting variety and balance, and we want things that are as beautiful as possible," said Blackburn.

"Also, we are finding that festivals like this all over the country are preserving old music that's gone out of print," she said. "For example, we are playing the Arensky Quartet for two cellos, viola and violin from Xeroxed copies, and we can circulate them. We found the Glazounov Quintet for two violins, viola and two cellos that we are doing in a shop in California, run by an old man in his 90s. Maybe if we circulate such music as this, we can encourage publishers to keep certain things in print."

She incubated her idea for a summer festival during her days at Juilliard, when she went summers to upstate New York to perform. "I watched a friend of mine develop a festival year by year," she said. "In the early '80s I was asked to substitute for Mikhail Boguslavsky of the Utah Symphony, and I thought, why not a festival in Utah? After I graduated from Juilliard I moved to Park City, and the festival began to evolve."

Many of the noted performers who play here have been friends and colleagues of Blackburn's over the years, and Park City can offer them something that many desire more than big money - a chance to perform and unwind in ambient surroundings.

Nationally noted concert and recital artists scheduled to appear at Deer Valley include Margaret Batjer, Stuart Canin, Arturo Delmoni, Clayton Haslop, Percy Kalt and Charles Libove, violinists; Steven Heyman, Nina Lugovoy, Robert Moeling, Mary Pendleton, Doris Stevenson and Frank Weinstock, pianists; and Gayle Smith and Julie Zumsteg, cello.

Others traveling from afar are Charles Castleman, violin, professor at Eastman School; pianist Michael Gurt, 1982 Bachauer Competition winner; and tenor Warren Hoffer, professor at Arizona State University.

Also Terry King, cellist of the Mirecourt Trio; Maureen McDermott, cellist of the McDermott Trio; Manuel Ramos, violin, assistant concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony; Paul Rosenthal, violin, director of the Sitka Summer Music Festival; Jeffrey Solow, cello, professor at Temple University; and Frank Weinstock, pianist, of the Cincinnati Conservatory. From the St. Louis Symphony come Christian Woehr, assistant principal violist, and Stephen Balderston, cello.

Comprising the Baker-Drinkall Duo are Dian Baker, piano, and Roger Drinkall, cello, now based at Brigham Young University. From the Utah Symphony come William Barnewitz, horn; John Eckstein, cello; Russell Harlow, clarinet, who is also festival manager; Mitchell Morrison, bassoon; Shelley Showers, horn; and Robert Stevenson, oboe.

Besides Blackburn, a violist, other regional artists are Walter Birkedahl, bassist, a professor at BYU; and Joan Bauman, flute/soprano.

Two resident composers are on this year's roster. Tanya French has revised and added to her Octet, with a performance scheduled Aug. 16. And violist Christopher Woehr will perform his "Alaska Passages" with Castleman on Aug. 30. Blackburn has her eye on a few other composers, and confesses a liking for the serious works of Peter Schickele. "We've been approached by several composers wanting to come here, but if we don't like their work, we don't consider them," she said.

The festival enjoys the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Utah Arts Council, as well as the Summit County Commission. Tickets, at $10, or $6 for students and senior citizens, are available in Salt Lake City at Discriminator Music, Le Disque Chateau, Peter Paul Prier, Summerhays Music, Syntrax Music and Waking Owl Books; in Orem at Summerhays Music; or at the Park City Adventure Center or Park City Audio and Television. Season passes are $100, $60 seniors.

All but two concerts will be in the Snow Park Lodge; the exceptions are July 29 in the Park City Community Church, and Aug. 16, at St. Mary's Catholic Church. The concert of Aug. 5 (coinciding with the Park City Arts Festival) will be at 2 p.m. - Dorothy Stowe