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“Beyond Beethoven” Project Offers Free Downloads Of Classical Recordings

Colchester, Vt. – For the second year, VPR Classical, Vermont Public Radio’s 24-hour classical music service, and Burlington Ensemble have collaborated to produce high-quality classical recordings for free download by the community.

Cellist Benjamin Capps and pianist David Kaplan of Burlington Ensemble returned to VPR Classical last fall to record four more sonatas for cello and piano – the two by Felix Mendelssohn and the two by Johannes Brahms.    

The project will air February 3-7 on VPR Classical, which is available on 16 stations throughout Vermont and at VPR.net. The recordings are available for free download from VPR.net throughout the month of February.

Capps and Kaplan will perform the works in concert February 6 in Castleton and February 8 in Burlington, presented by Burlington Ensemble.

The goal of the project is to make classical music more accessible, particularly to new audiences, said Joe Goetz, VPR Classical host and producer of Beyond Beethoven.

“Beyond Beethoven gives anyone the opportunity to learn about and listen to great music by important composers easily and at no cost,” Goetz said. “We see it as a gift to the community and a way for two exceptional up-and-coming artists to connect with new audiences.”

Benjamin Capps said, "it makes me feel very good that anybody who wants can download these sonatas for free and listen to them. It seems like we have, in a way, found a new way of getting people exposed to art [who] may not have the means to otherwise."

Beyond Beethoven is a follow up to 2013’s successful “The Beethoven Project,” which resulted in nearly 4,000 downloads in 38 countries. 

The project gets its name from the featured composers, Mendelssohn and Brahms. Both were very much in Beethoven’s shadow, but in different ways.  Mendelssohn was a brash, bold prodigy who was not intimidated by Beethoven, who lived until just after Mendelssohn’s 18th birthday. Brahms, on the other hand, came a generation later, and was extremely wary of Beethoven’s larger-than-life legacy. Both composers would have been very familiar with Beethoven’s sonatas for cello and piano when they wrote their own.

Michael Dabroski, co-artistic director of Burlington Ensemble, said that “Beyond Beethoven” also refers to the joy, collaboration, and community building that music can provide.

“Artistically it is meaningful to create and give music to people in ways beyond the concert stage,” Dabroski said. “I hope music lovers everywhere will enjoy our “Beyond Beethoven” recordings, and that they nurture their musical passions for many years to come.”

David Kaplan said that the direct distribution model signifies a change in the industry that could ultimately be good for classical musicians.

"Classical music recording has become less and less lucrative over the years, along with recorded music in general.  So I think we've hit on something that could have broader ramifications, which is that you don't need the record companies and you don't need traditional distribution models in order to get people to hear music that you're making."

VPR Classical is Vermont's only classical music network featuring local hosts throughout the day. Kari Anderson, Walter Parker, and Joe Goetz share their extensive knowledge and passion for the music Monday through Friday. Other highlights include A Passion For Opera with Peter Fox Smith, Performance Today, Sunday Baroque, From the Top, and weekly concerts by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. VPR Classical can be heard on 16 stations around the state, as well as on HD radio, VPR.net, and on mobile devices.

Burlington Ensemble is an innovative professional chamber music group whose concerts benefit local non-profit organizations while simultaneously building new audience for classical music, supporting local musicians, and building community.