Based in Houston, Minnesota, The Apollo Music Festival (AMF) is a classical music festival focusing mostly on chamber music. It was founded in 2013 by pianist Garret Ross, a native of Houston. Ross presented his first professional concert in Houston in December of 2012, with cellist Ruth Marshall, in the space that would become the International Owl Center. Performing under the name Artu Duo, they have been the ensemble-in-residence at the Apollo Music Festival ever since. In the summer of 2013, the first AMF concerts were held at the Houston Preschool, and all subsequent concerts have been held at Cross of Christ Lutheran Church.
The Apollo Music Festival runs every summer during the two weeks before Labor Day, producing four concerts in Houston. It has run annually since 2013, with the exception of 2020 when it was forced into a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since its founding in 2013, The Apollo Music Festival has also produced concerts in Caledonia, Winona, and Saint Paul. Since 2014, AMF has also offered educational opportunities for students, including master classes with AMF musicians, and student recitals at Cross of Christ Lutheran Church.
In the years since 2013, over twenty excellent musicians have performed at Apollo Music Festival concerts. These musicians are members of the Minnesota Orchestra, the Oregon Symphony, the Illinois Symphony, the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Kansas City Symphony, the Britt Festival Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and have taught on the faculties of the University of Minnesota, the State University of New York, Northern Kentucky University, Eastern Illinois University, Illinois State University, Lewis and Clark College, the Saint Paul Conservatory of Music, Northwestern University, New York University, Mannes School of Music, Winona State University, and Illinois Wesleyan University. They have come from Oregon, Montana, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, New York, Germany, and of course, Minnesota. These musicians’ skills and gifts, coming from far and wide, create the excellence for which the Apollo Music Festival is known. For the two weeks before Labor Day, there is nowhere they would rather be than Houston, Minnesota.
The Apollo Music Festival offers all of its concert and educational programming free to the community. As such, it is mightily supported by the Southeastern Minnesota community. Each year, individual donors give generously to AMF to help off-set the significant costs of producing concerts of such high caliber. The Apollo Music Festival has also received grant funding from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, and in-kind support from the Houston Arts Resource Council.