Chamber Music

WindSync brings vibrant, personal style to 1st recital

WindSync 2 (credit – Aly Matei)

With a penchant for breaking the fourth wall while performing wind quintet masterworks, adapting beloved music to their instrumentation, and championing new works by contemporary composers, WindSync is bringing a vibrant, personal style to the first recital in the 2023 Chautauqua Chamber Music Guest Artist Series.

At 4 p.m. today in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall, flutist Garrett Hudson, oboist Emily Tsai, clarinetist Graeme Steele Johnson, bassoonist Kara LaMoure, and French horn player Anni Hochhalter — the musicians who make up the ensemble — will bring their personal performance style to Chautauqua.

WindSync first came on the scene in 2012 when the group won that year’s Concert Artists Guild’s Victor Elmaleh Competition. An international touring career followed, and Kimberly Schuette’s been tracking their career ever since.

“The program they’re bringing to us highlights exactly what they do best and most uniquely: arrangements for winds of canonical repertoire done with reverence, set alongside new commissions from the rising composers of their generation,” she said. “WindSync is a wonderful start to our 2023 chamber music series.”

The program for WindSync’s afternoon recital includes the quintet’s arrangement of Ravel’s “Bolero” and George Gershwin’s “Summertime,” as well as Rameau’s Pastoral Suite, Miguel del Aguila’s Sambeada, and Marc Mellits’ Apollo.

Medalists at the 2018, M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, WindSync has appeared in recital at the Met Museum, Ravinia, Shanghai Oriental Arts Center, and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. The ensemble performed the world premiere of Paul Lansky’s “The Long and the Short of it,” commissioned by the Carolyn Royall Just Fund and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, at the Library of Congress in 2015. Other premieres include Pulitzer finalist Michael Gilbertson’s “The Cosmos,” and works by Ivan Trevino, John Steinmetz, Marc Mellits, Erberk Eryilmaz, and Akshaya Avril Tucker. Forthcoming commissions include new works for wind quintet by Mason Bynes, Viet Cuong, and Nathalie Joachim. 

Schuette, who is managing director of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and manager of artistic administration for the Department of Performing and Visual Arts, also plays a key role in chamber programming. There’s much to look forward to this summer, she said, and WindSync is just the start.

“I am very proud of the guest artists we are bringing to the Monday afternoon chamber music series. It’s an exciting lineup of both established and emerging ensembles, and both beloved classic chamber music and works by 20th-century and living composers,” she said.  “WindSync, Brooklyn Rider, Borromeo String Quartet, and the Westerlies are playing on the most revered chamber music series across the nation and we’re so fortunate to see them at Chautauqua this summer.” 

Deeper Than The Skin duo to present songs about race, invites audiences to engage in entertainment, contemplation

Deeper than the Skin 01 Chamber 082222

Guitarist and vocalist Reggie Harris saw singer-songwriter Greg Greenway perform onstage in Cleveland before they officially met at Village Gate in Greenwich Village in the 1980s.

“We fell into a conversation, discovered instantly that we had a lot in common — not to mention that we’re born three days apart,” Harris said. “But it was the music connecting to passion, the fact that (Greenway) was a white man who was already reading and thinking about race (and) was already tied into songs of civil rights and impact.”

As a Black man, Harris appreciated how Greenway spoke on these issues when other white musicians tried as hard as they could to avoid topics about race. This, along with their love of music and the right ingredients for a friendship, kept them in touch and led them to become the duo Deeper Than The Skin.

At 3:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22 in Norton Hall, they come to Chautauqua Institution to perform their concert consisting of both music and some discussion, as they sing about race and racism.

Music is an essential element to all they do.

“Reggie has long told me that human beings are hardwired for story and song,” Greenway said. “And what we have is a remarkable story to tell.”

Greenway is a native of Richmond, Virginia, and Harris grew up in Philadelphia. But both of them can trace their heritage to the James River area; Harris has enslaved ancestors who lived on a plantation just outside of Richmond.

“I grew up in the Lost Cause culture of the South, where the Confederate flags and the statues were all normal,” Greenway said. “As I grew up, the dissonance with that culture grew and grew and grew until what I saw was larger than the story I’d been told.”

This dissonance that Greenway felt led him out of Virginia and up North to ultimately meet Harris. Even on their first meeting, they talked about these experiences, which Harris believes is not something people are naturally skilled in.

“The ability to balance and confront complexity is one of the things that I think Americans are probably least good at,” Harris said. “In terms of not only what we’re presenting but also just our own personal narratives, it’s been very important over the course of years to really examine our own lives, to examine our own prejudices, to examine the path that we’ve been on and how those paths have been very different.”

The pair feel that their roles in concerts are distinctive because of their individual perspectives; what makes them work well together is a matter of personality.

“The thing I really appreciate about Greg — just from almost the time that we met — is just his openness and his fearlessness for taking on new lines of thought and for being wrong,” Harris said.

Harris feels that people often get stuck and refuse to talk about race because they are afraid to be wrong. Removing one’s ego is key to having these conversations, and Harris and Greenway work to model this for audiences.

“Our humanity and our willingness to share that with an audience, I think, is one of our greatest strengths,” Harris said.

Modeling their dedication to openness, they acknowledge that Greenway will never know what it is like to be a Black man, and Harris feels the impact of that, particularly when they perform.

For a while, Greenway did not think that their anti-racism concerts were all that courageous, but for Harris, it took an immense amount of courage.

“Every single time I enter a building, I’m thinking about the possibility that it might be the last time. Our social location in the world has made it possible for Greg to feel that this doesn’t take courage,” Harris said. “With recent events and with all that we see around us, the level of danger that is engendered by the very fact that we are willing to stand on that stage together is never ever taken for granted by me.”

Greenway recognizes the privilege he has as a white man, as this fear does not plague his every movement.

“It’s a luxury that a white male has to move freely in the country,” Greenway said.

Even though Greenway can never fully comprehend Harris’ experience, Harris knows Greenway is the right person to do this work with because Greenway did this work before he met Harris, and continues it when he’s not around. Harris feels that he has an “ally and a brother” in Greenway.

The topics Deeper Than The Skin will sing about are tough, but they won’t only address the pain racism has caused.

“We need to always point out that working on these issues is not all about the negative, it’s about joy,” Harris said. “It’s about the fact that if we work toward these issues of justice and equity, we actually are producing a better world for people, so that the joy and happiness in everyday life is multiplied.”

Vocal ensemble Cantus to sing about immigration, celebration of cultures

Cantus print 02 Chamber 081522

At Luther College, tenor Paul Scholtz majored in English.

“I got to college and was definitely doing a lot of singing: singing in choir, taking lessons,” he said. “But I didn’t want to do opera or anything like that, and Luther was focused on opera for voice folks, so I majored in English and I had a math minor and also a music minor.”

After graduating, Scholtz moved to New York City to pursue singing and joined the vocal ensemble Cantus in 2015. That vocal ensemble held a special place in his heart because, growing up, he had a neighbor who was a member of the group. Cantus has brought people together to make music for 28 years now, and at 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15 in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall they are bringing their voices to Chautauqua as part of the Chautauqua Chamber Music Guest Artist Series.

One of Cantus’ major passions is commissioning music. They will showcase some of their commissioned music in today’s concert, such as Australian American composer Melissa Dunphy’s “N-400 Erasure Songs,” which is a favorite of Scholtz’s.

The lyrics used for the song come from the N-400 documents that U.S. immigrants must fill out to apply to become naturalized citizens. Dunphy, who emigrated from Australia to the United States, often found herself frustrated and perplexed by these documents. Using erasure poetry, she drew the lyrics from the forms to create the song cycle, which will close out Cantus’ concert this afternoon.

“A lot of the things that Melissa talked about is (that) it really can be incredibly intimidating,” Scholtz said. “The process feels arbitrary. It feels like life or death for the people who are trying to become naturalized.”

The entire concert, titled “My Journey Yours,” after the song by Elise Witt of the same name, centers around the theme of finding home, especially in an unfamiliar place.

The program aligns with  Cantus’ goals, one of which is relevance.

“Our vision is to give voice to human experience,” Scholtz said. “I think one of the things that sets Cantus apart is our programming. We tend to — instead of programming a Beethoven set and hitting composers or doing things by time period or style — really try to think of the story that the program has. And that comes first.”

The group can do this because each of the members holds equal weight as co-artistic directors.

“Each of us has our fingerprints all over the programming, all over the rehearsal process, and so there’s a huge amount of buy-in. We really, really care about what we’re doing. Each of us does,” Scholtz said.

That aspect of Cantus attracted Scholtz to the group. When the singers have control over what they sing, they are more passionate about the music and the ensemble, and that only makes them stronger.

“It’s really a privilege to get to be challenged in this way by your colleagues every day and have a task that is enormous,” he said. “Obviously, there’s many different ways to do it well. There’s no one way to make art, but you do have to invest yourself fully to create something that everyone can be proud of.”

The piece Scholtz brought to the table for this program is “Afka Hooyo,” which draws on the Somali alphabet. Scholtz is from the Twin Cities region, which has a large Somali population, and he wanted to draw music that was representative of the people around him.

“This piece is about the celebration of Somali alphabets,” he said. “For a while, there were as many as four different alphabets in Somalia. And at some point in their history, they came together around a single alphabet, and this song is a celebration of language and community.”

Seraph Brass to share classical, modern music

Seraph Brass Chamber 080822

Lauded brass ensemble Seraph Brass entered the classical music scene in 2014, created from the hopes of the trumpeter and founder of the group, Mary Elizabeth Bowden.

“I recently found a notebook from 2006 where I was brainstorming a dream to start — not only a brass quintet — but a brass quintet composed of all women,” Bowden said.

Since its beginning in 2014, the ensemble released its 2018 debut album Asteria, which received the Silver Medal Global Music Award, and in 2019, the group was awarded the American Prize in Chamber Music Performance.

Seraph Brass has toured across the United States and Europe and comes to Chautauqua to play for the Chautauqua Chamber Music Guest Artist Series at 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8 in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall. Mask are required for this event.

During the ensemble’s 2016-2017 season, it toured across the Midwestern United States, playing a total of 60 concerts.

“We were driving in a van for many hours a day,” Bowden said. “We just had so much fun, because there’s so many parts of the country that you can see via car rather than just flying everywhere.”

While the ensemble loves performing classical music, travel is also a beloved component of the group’s time.

“Everybody really loves traveling and exploring new places, and so those passions tied together work really well with performing,” Bowden said, “and also being able to live more of a nomadic life, and being able to explore new places and communities around the world.”

The group is passionate about elevating classical women composers and musicians. For Asteria, the ensemble commissioned a couple pieces from female musicians, and it’s continuing that process with a new piece by Jennifer Jolley, which will premiere March 2023.

“We keep commissioning new things. We’re a part of a lot of consortiums for other pieces that other groups launch, and so we’re always supporting new composers and finding new ways of creating new pieces for the brass quintet repertoire,” Bowden said.

One of Bowden’s favorite pieces Seraph Brass commissioned is “Asteria” by Catherine McMichael, which the group will play during today’s concert.

“The middle movement is called Virgo, and we perform it as a stand-alone piece now,” Bowden said. “It’s so beautiful.”

She described this afternoon’s program as having variety, which allows the group to play everything from its classical favorites, like Giuseppe Verdi’s “Sempre Libera” from La Traviata and Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, to new music, like Anthony DiLorenzo’s “Go,” the program’s finale.

Seraph Brass just finished a summer retreat where the members practiced together for six hours a day. Part of this rehearsal consisted of the complex memorization of “Go,” which has a different meter for every bar.

“It will be our first performance (of ‘Go’) by memory, which will add that extra layer of excitement, as well,” Bowden said.

Imani Winds to bring modern, eclectic chamber

Imani Winds 01 Chamber 080122

While clarinetist Mark Dover was still a college student, he heard Imani Winds perform and became a big fan. After he graduated from the Manhattan School of Music with his master’s in music, he auditioned for the wind quintet.

“I didn’t think I was going to get the job. They were a little bit late in letting me know,” Dover said.

Finally, two days after Christmas — on his wife’s birthday — he got the call from Imani Winds, letting him know he was officially a part of the group.

“I was just very surprised,” he said. “(It was) probably one of the happier days of my life, along with my wedding day and my daughter being born. It was definitely up there.”

Imani Winds, which includes flutist Brandon Patrick George, oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz, French horn player Kevin Newton, bassoonist Monica Ellis and clarinetist Dover, will take the stage at 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 1 in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall for the 2022 Chautauqua Chamber Music Guest Artist Series. Mask are required for audience members.

The group’s latest album, Bruits, was nominated for a 2022 Grammy in the category “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance,” and in 2016, they were a part of an exhibition about Black musicians’ contributions to classical music in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Imani Winds is dedicated to more than making great music; they also want to make great musicians, and music education is an inseparable aspect of the group’s work. From the birth of the ensemble in 1997, members knew outreach through music education was important to them, Dover said.

“We always do outreach wherever we go,” he said. “If we are playing a chamber music society, we will do an outreach concert … that the chamber music society helps organize, or we will go to a university and we’ll work with students there.”

Even though music education is the group’s mission as a whole, it is still equally personal and special to each of the members individually.

“It’s everything. I wouldn’t be here without the training that I received and the teachers that I’ve had,” Dover said.

People fear that there’s a declining interest in classical music, and Dover thinks the solution is making classical music accessible to everyone.

“It all comes down to the root, the source, which is the schools and music education, and being able to provide instruments and instruction for anyone who wants it,” he said.

Another project that Imani Winds maintains is its Legacy Commissioning Project. Through this project, it commissions wind ensemble pieces from composers who are underrepresented in classical music.

“It’s the lifeblood of the group,” Dover said. “I’m into the idea of always looking to perform new works and celebrating living, breathing composers, and then also composers of color, women composers. I think that, for all of us, that’s right up there at the top of the ongoing projects that we are really committed to.”

For the music they will perform this afternoon, Dover dubbed the unofficial theme of the concert “Considered Modern 2.0.”

The modern music on the ensemble’s program is Eugene Bozza’s Scherzo, Elliott Carter’s Woodwind Quintet, Henri Tomasi’s “Cinq Danses Profanes et Sacrées,” Valerie Coleman’s Afro-Cuban Concerto and Paquito D’Rivera’s “Wapango.”

“Some of the works on the program are a little bit older, but in terms of the grander scheme of 20th-century works, we really feel that these are all 20th- and 21st-century works that really represent the sound of the wind quintet and the kind of music that we really believe in,” Dover said. “And it’s just a lot of fun.”

The third piece, Valeria Coleman’s Afro-Cuban Concerto, is particularly special to Imani Winds because Coleman used to be a member of the group.

While writing a piece for orchestra, the commission fell through. Luckily, instead of abandoning the piece, Coleman made the music into a piece for a wind quintet, specifically Imani Winds.

“She put all of the orchestra parts and the solo parts into the quintet,” Dover said. “It’s a really cool piece that has a very Afro-Cuban feel to it. Each movement has a different type of rhythmic feel, a different type of dance. It’s very improvisatory.”

Playing music like Coleman’s reminds the artists of the history of Imani Winds, which existed for years before any of the current members joined.

“You’re caught between having all this reverence and respect for the group, and how do you channel that through your own instrument and through your own voice?” Dover said. “For me, it’s more about continuing their legacy and trying to put my own passion into it — trying to give Imani Winds what it deserves and what it already was, and just taking that and then rolling with it.”

French quartet Quatuor Danel to perform Russian repertoire in Chamber Music Guest Series

Quatuor Danel_credit Marco Borggreve Chamber 072522

For violist Vlad Bogdanas, musicians in string quartets are not like work colleagues or friends, but like members of his own family.

“It’s like a relationship with your brothers or with your parents,” Bogdanas said. “Very often we say that a string quartet is like a wedding with four people. … Sometimes we fight, sometimes we laugh, sometimes we disagree, but as long as the concert goes well, as long as we look in the same direction and have the same goals, it works.”

After wrapping up the European leg of their 2022 summer tour, French quartet Quatuor Danel — composed of violinists Marc Danel and Gilles Millet, cellist Yovan Markovitch, and Bogdanas on the viola — come to North America and make their Chautauqua debut at 4 p.m. Monday, July 25, in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall. They’re performing as part of the Chautauqua Chamber Music Guest Artist Series.

Their program exhibits three Russian composers: Sergei Prokofiev, Lera Auerbach and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

“The first half is based on folk themes because that’s how Prokofiev built the second string quartet, and the Auerbach quartet is inspired by Alkonost,” Bogdanas said.

Alkonost is not a classical composer, but rather a Russian folk-metal band that embraces Slavic legends. This is evident in the band’s name,  as the Alkonost is a bird with the head of a woman from Slavic folklore.

Everything culminates in Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 11, which, as legend and Bogdanas both say, made Leo Tolstoy cry when he first heard it.

Has the piece ever made Bogdanas cry? 

“Sometimes it can happen,” he said. 

What happens onstage affects the audience, and Quatuor Danel prioritizes an atmosphere that encourages the emotions of the audience — something they’ve been doing since their founding in 1991.

“Sometimes you have this luck, when the stars are aligned and we are in a special mood and the music is special. I don’t know, it’s something that’s not explainable. It’s just beyond words,” Bogdanas said.

Bogdanas knows the mood is special when the audience claps after the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet.

“Sometimes it happens because the end of the first movement is really like fireworks and sometimes people applaud,” he said. “… It’s not a usual thing that happens during concerts to clap after the first movement, but when it does, it means something.”

Bogdanas clarified that there is no pressure on Chautauquans to have this response; the quartet just looks forward to playing in front of this group for the first time.

“Of course, we like to meet old friends,” Bogdanas said, “but the music we play, we like to share it, always, with new people and new audiences.”

School of Music presents chamber music showcase


Historically, Chautauqua’s School of Music has never featured its students playing chamber music in the Amphitheater.

Until now.

“(The Amp) has always been reserved for big concerts, meaning big ensembles, orchestra, opera,” said Kathryn Votapek, the chair of chamber music at the School of Music. “The largest group that’s playing on Sunday is five people. It’s a whole different kind of music-making than the students do when they’re studying in solo repertoire or playing in large ensembles.”

At 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 24, in the Amphitheater, the School of Music will present the Chamber Music Showcase. Artistic and Music Director at the School of Music, Timothy Muffit, will be joined by Marlena Malas, director of the Chautauqua Opera Conservatory, as well as Alexander Gavrylyuk, artist-in-residence at the School of Music Piano Program.

“(In chamber music) there’s no conductor, they’re self-directed,” Votapek said. “In the performance, the students have to be listening in a whole different way than when they’re just playing by themselves, with, say, a pianist following them.”

In a large ensemble, like an orchestra, a violinist might be part of a section of 12 other violinists playing the same part, Votapek said.

“When you’re playing chamber music, you have to be like a soloist,” she said. “Everybody’s part is unique and important and needs to be heard. At the same time, you have to be incredibly smart and know what everyone else is doing, how their parts fit in.”

It’s essential to, at the spur of the moment, be able to play a passage of music in a chamber music setting in a way different than you were expecting to, according to Votapek. 

“In a way, it’s a little like jazz,” she said. “Jazz musicians are always listening and responding and jumping off one another.”

Among the composers and works to be featured on Sunday’s program are Mozart’s Quintet for Piano and Winds, Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet in G Minor, op. 57, and Brahms’ Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Minor, op. 60.

“The students will be performing seven of the greatest pieces written for small chamber ensembles,” she said. “Since the students don’t have endless time to work on chamber music here at Chautauqua, we try to make sure that they’re playing stuff that’s really, really important in the repertoire.”

Votapek said that it’s her goal for the students performing on Sunday to perform “something that will speak to them.”

She wants the pieces performed to leave an impression on the students. 

“We want them to play something that they can hold onto as a great memory that they worked on this particular piece in this particular place,” she said. 

Ulysses Quartet’s intertwining journey leads to Chautauqua’s chamber series in Lenna Hall

no thumb

Just like Homer’s hero Odysseus, the members of Ulysses Quartet had a long, intertwining and meandering journey before the quartet finally formed in 2015.

Seven years later and fresh off a three-year residency at The Juilliard School, the Ulysses Quartet comes to perform in the Chautauqua Chamber Music Guest Artist Series at 4 p.m. Monday, July 18, in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall.

The members of the quartet, violinists Christina Bouey and Rhiannon Banerdt, violist Colin Brookes, and cellist Grace Ho, wanted a name that was meaningful to them.

“The name is such an important thing. We wanted something that resonated with us, but also carried some weight,” Brookes said.

When the group was searching for a name, Brookes was reading Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels: A Novel of the Civil War. Ulysses S. Grant’s first name inspired him, since “Ulysses” is the Latin variant of “Odysseus.”

Buoey happened to be driving through Ulysses, New York, when Brookes proposed the quartet name via text.

“We were like, ‘It’s meant to be,’ ” Ho said.

The group truly was meant to be, as each of the members had overlapping interactions with one another before finally becoming a quartet. Whether it was rooming together at the Manhattan School of Music or attending summer camp together, each member’s histories are interwoven.

Buoey recruited Ho to join her and Brookes, but they needed another violinist.

“We looked for another violinist for quite a while because we wanted somebody, right off the bat, that was going to be really just as dedicated as us,” Buoey said. “It’s hard to find. And so finally we found the missing piece to our puzzle, who was as crazy as us to dedicate their life to a quartet. And that was Rhiannon.” 

For its program this afternoon, the quartet chose an array of music united by a common theme.

“One thread that connects this program in particular is exciting rhythms and the way that we build them,” Brookes said.

He shared that Joan Tower, the composer of the piece “Wild Summer,” spent some time in South America. During her time there, the music of different cultures inspired her to play with rhythm.

“ ‘Wild Summer’ — it is really wild,” Banerdt said. 

He then shared the other music Chautauquans should expect to hear: Haydn’s String Quartet in G Major, and Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 5, among others.

“The Mendelssohn just has this effervescent, joyful energy almost the whole way through. The Danish String Quartet arrangement, first of all, I think I get goosebumps because it’s just so fun to play,” he said. “It’s this totally free, fun, joyous experience, and the audience always has this reaction because most of them don’t know them. And so it’s this really exciting discovery. And then Haydn, he’s the pop of the string quartet. Everything that we have kind of comes from him.”

Some of the pieces may have similar energy, but each achieves exciting rhythms through different means.

“(‘Wild Summer’) … is just non-stop unrelenting rhythm,” Buoey said. “And then, when we get to the Haydn, he actually does a lot of his rhythm in pauses and rests. And so he makes a lot of jokes throughout that piece. We’re basically showing how rhythm can be used to achieve different characters, different emotions. Sometimes it’s funny; sometimes it’s serious.”

The Ulysses Quartet is thrilled to bring this program to Chautauqua Institution for its first visit to the grounds.

“We’re all really excited about Chautauqua because it’s a famous institution. It’s been around for years,” Buoey said. “And when we get to go play at such festivals with that kind of history, it makes us feel like we’re also accomplishing something in the art world, which is a nice feeling, but first and foremost, we’re doing it for the music and to share our love for the music.”

Story, music intertwine for brothers in chamber recital


Brothers Aldo López-Gavilán and Ilmar Gavilán both have a passion and a talent for music, but they were never able to collaborate together — until recently.

This is all part of their narrative. Their story and their music will intertwine as they perform as part of the Chautauqua Chamber Music Guest Artist Series at 4 p.m. Monday, July 11, in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall.

Ilmar Gavilán is the violinist of the duo; Aldo López-Gavilán is the pianist. Gavilán has many musical influences, from Russian-American violinist Jascha Heifetz to Israeli-American Pinchas Zukerman, but what unites these diverse musicians is not the music they play, but the way they play it.

“Music is not just sounds, but it’s meant to speak, talk, to say something. That’s something that I really admire, and it’s an art that, if we are not too careful, it will disappear,” Gavilán said.

He sees musicians focusing more on being employable, learning the music perfectly and sounding a specific way. While this tactic works for getting a job, it lacks a certain quality. To Gavilán’s ears, that quality is “phrasing, poetry through music.”

When a musician’s focus is only on technique, it loses its deep emotional and storytelling power. López-Gavilán and Gavilán lean into this storytelling aspect, and they have quite the story to tell. At 14, Gavilán moved from Cuba to, what at the time was, the Soviet Union to further his studies. After his time there, he studied at the Reina Sofía School of Music in Spain before coming to the United States and joining the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. He never moved back to Cuba.

López-Gavilán, on the other hand, continued his piano education on the island of Cuba. At just 12, he began his professional career playing for the Matanzas Symphony Orchestra, whose home is in Matanzas, Cuba. In 1999, he recorded his first album En el Ocaso de la Hormiga y el Elefante; it won the 2000 Grand Prix at Cubadisco.

Twenty years later, during summer 2019, after touring Latin America, Europe and the United States, López-Gavilán collaborated with his brother, for the first time, on the album titled Brothers.

López-Gavilán and Gavilán confirmed they will play the title track “Brothers” at their concert this afternoon. The song was written for their PBS documentary “Los Hermanos/The Brothers,” which first aired fall 2021 and was screened Sunday night at the Athenaeum Hotel. “Brothers” was specifically written for the final scene of the documentary, and because the rest of the album was not, the song has a different quality.

“It has a nostalgic feel to it. Of course it’s about the two of us finally being together,” Gavilán said.

The emotion Gavilán feels about performing with his brother and getting to be with him can perhaps only be told through their music.

“It’s something very hard to put into words,” he said, “but it feels great. Now you’re complete, it’s like that.”

ChamberFest Cleveland to bring its largest chamber group to Lenna Hall


When Diana Cohen was a child, she looked up to her father Franklin Cohen as her musical teacher. When she became an adult, she teamed up with him to create ChamberFest Cleveland, whose goal is to bring chamber music to the Cleveland area and, today, to Chautauqua Institution.

Chautauquans can experience ChamberFest Cleveland at 4 p.m. Monday, July 4, in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall. 

“We’ve played for years and years as a family and especially me and my dad, as there is a lot of repertoire for clarinet and violin,” said Diana Cohen, founder and co-artistic director of ChamberFest Cleveland. “I grew up playing for him. … He’s always been one of my most inspiring teachers.”

Their collaborations ultimately led them to co-found ChamberFest Cleveland in 2012.

“It’s been such a wonderful joy to share music with him and my whole family,” Cohen said.

Not only are Cohen and her father involved with ChamberFest Cleveland, but so is Cohen’s husband Roman Rabinovich, who is a co-artistic director for the chamber music group, making this truly a family affair.

Cohen family members are not the only people enjoying ChamberFest Cleveland, though.

“We’ve made it now to 10 years in Cleveland,” Cohen said. “ChamberFest Cleveland has really grown into one of the major pillars of the art community, and we just love sharing music … to be able to watch people connecting onstage through eye contact, with smiles, and the give and take involved. It’s really quite beautiful and quite unique to chamber music.”

Today, ChamberFest Cleveland will perform Claude Debussy’s “Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp,” followed by Johannes Brahms’ Serenade No. 1 in D major, op. 11.

Cohen described the Debussy piece as “perfect in every way. … It’s very light and ethereal and sparkling.”

This piece, with its feathery qualities and three-instrument chamber group, is then contrasted with Brahms’ Serenade.

“We have the delicate French to the more beefy and lush Brahms,” Cohen said.

Part of the richness of the Brahms piece is created by a larger range of instruments in the chamber group than is in the Debussy piece.

“There’s kind of an earthy quality to (Brahms’ Serenade) and a rusticness to it, especially with the addition of a horn and a double bass,” Cohen said. “At the same time, there are so many sublime, long, spinning melodies, which are just spectacular. … We have not been able to offer Chautauqua such a large group before. … It makes for such a rich sound world.”

Cuarteto Latinoamericano joins JiJi in opening chamber series


Everyone needs a little bit of fun.

And that is exactly what string quartet Cuarteto Latinoamericano with classical guitarist JiJi will reflect with their music at 4 p.m. Monday, June 27, in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall. These musicians will be the first to perform in the 2022 Chautauqua Chamber Music Guest Artist Series.

Cuarteto Latinoamericano  — a group composed of brothers Álvaro, Arón and Saúl Bitrán, and violist Javier Montiel — have created music together for almost 40 years. In those 40 years, the band has created over 50 albums and won two Latin Grammys, both in the Best Classical Album category. They collaborated with Manuel Barrueco to win a Latin Grammy in the category Best Classical Contemporary Composition. The string quartet’s story begins in Mexico City where the Bitrán brothers met Montiel at the National Conservatory of Music.

“We were still teenagers, and we became very good friends,” said cellist Álvaro Bitrán.

Their friendship, mutual talents and love for music led them to create Cuarteto Latinoamericano in 1982. When the group first formed, they spent “a lot of time discussing styles,” Álvaro Bitrán said. “Now, we are very efficient with our time.”

After four decades of playing together, the band has an established musical style. This established style helped classical guitarist JiJi in her own musical journey, most notably when she arranged Niccolò Paganini’s Caprice No. 24 for guitar and string quartet.

“It was hard for me because it was my first time actually arranging for a string quartet,” JiJi said.

But Cuarteto Latinoamericano did not abandon JiJi to figure it out herself.

“(The members of Cuarteto Latinoamericano) were like, ‘Oh, we want to do this ricochet thing … why don’t we try that?’ ” JiJi said. “So it was a really creative and collaborative effort to do this arrangement.”

In addition to the piece JiJi arranged, they picked music — such as pieces by Antonio Vivaldi and Luigi Boccherini — to create a sense of lightness in the performance.

“It’s just really fun, and it happened to be all Italian,” JiJi said. “We find this energetic vibrancy in these pieces, and that’s what we really like.”

While all of the pieces JiJi and Cuarteto Latinoamericano will play together today are from Italian composers, their solo performances are more diversified. JiJi will open with Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz’s “Asturias” (Leyenda) for guitar. Later in the program, Cuarteto Latinoamericano will play Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos’s String Quartet No. 5 and Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla’s “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” for tango and strings. Cuarteto Latinoamericano’s selections from Latin American composers are consistent with their mission. Not only do the Latin American composers reflect a part of this string quartet’s culture, but by performing them, it exposes audiences to the composers’ music.

“We try to have a very, very Spanish label,” Álvaro Bitrán said.

Cuarteto Latinoamericano and JiJi’s program is designed to evoke a celebratory mood.

“(The pieces are) really all just very festive,” JIJI said. “I think it’s perfect for the summer and the solstice.”

Captivating chamber: Manhattan Chamber Players to perform intimate set in Amphitheater as 2021 season draws to a close



Manhattan Chamber Players

As the 2021 season winds down, there’s still a chance to enjoy classical music as the Manhattan Chamber Players perform at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24 in the Amphitheater. 

The chamber music performance will not only allow Chautauquans to enjoy classical music one more time this summer, but it will also share the talents of each individual musician in a more intimate setting.

The group was founded in 2015 by violist Luke Fleming. Fleming had been playing in a string quartet for six years, and found himself wanting an opportunity to branch out in chamber music and play with people that had a similar musical background as he did. From this came the creation of the Manhattan Chamber Players, a group of musicians who were able to come together and explore a vast chamber music repertoire.

Members of the Manhattan Chamber Players also come from successful careers as either soloists or members of other professional performing groups. There are also two composers who write music for the group. Each musician shares the common goal of coming together to create music and perform chamber music. 

The group has traveled to numerous places around the world to share the experience of chamber music. They perform their own series of chamber concerts in New York City but have also performed in New Orleans, Utah, and numerous music festivals and chamber music series. 

Each performance that the group puts on is unique and electric in its own way. This is due to the flexibility of their programming, with repertoire being performed from strings to winds and piano. 

Aside from performing around the world, the group also co-presents the Crescent City Chamber Music Festival, an outreach and mission-based event, each year in October. The festival was founded by Fleming, as well, with the goal of bringing chamber music to New Orleans. Since its founding in 2016, the festival has presented more than 20 free concerts in local venues, nursing homes, schools and homeless shelters. 

The Manhattan Chamber Players are also dedicated to educating young people about the importance and joys of playing an instrument — whether as a career or simply a hobby. The group showcases this by performing in local schools and after-school programs. 

Tonight’s program includes Beethoven’s String Trio in G Major, Op. 9, No. 1 and Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 45.

The Beethoven piece is a part of three four-movement string trios that he once considered his best compositions. These works were the stepping stones to Beethoven’s string quartets that would later become the leading genre in chamber music. 

Tonight’s trio in G Major is considered the most vigorous of the three. The high-energy piece starts off with a slow introduction that gives way to advanced harmonies, dazzling melodies and changing tones and moods with an unexpected D Minor key. The rich piece then ends on a fast-paced Presto movement.

The Fauré piece is a traditional piano quartet with inclusion of piano, violin, viola and cello. This four-movement piece begins with a unison string melody that is followed by the piano introducing the theme. 

The last movement that ends both the piece, and tonight’s concert, will leave a lasting impression with its passionate and intense string melody and piano triplets.

Guest critic: CSO Diversity Fellows, wind section deliver ‘chamber music of the highest order’



Above left, 2021 Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra Diversity Fellows open the show by performing Jessie Montgomery’s “Strum” Tuesday in the Amphitheater. Above right, Music Director Rossen Milanov conducts the winds section of the CSO during Mozart’s Wind Serenade in C minor Tuesday in the Amp. KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

​​By no definition does the Amphitheater qualify as a chamber. Indeed, it’s the opposite of small.

Tuesday night, however, thanks to a few talented members of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, the grand old gathering place served quite admirably as a venue for chamber music.

Not just any chamber music, either. Chamber music of the highest order. No matter that the Amp has no walls and a soaring roof. Playing works by Mozart, Strauss and Jessie Montgomery, the artists convinced a crowd they were the king’s band and the Amp was an intimate drawing room at the royal palace.

For a listener accustomed to hearing the full CSO, the evening amounted to a real treat. The orchestra is unquestionably an impressive force, but here was a chance to hear just the woodwinds and horns in their individual and collective glory.

They did not disappoint. Mozart and Strauss present no small challenges, but the CSO players hurdled them all with remarkable grace and sophistication. Music Director Rossen Milanov played a vital role, but in the moment, the conductor all but disappeared into readings that were organic and profoundly collaborative.

Mozart’s Wind Serenade K. 388 was a model of classical virtue. The CSO nonet struck and maintained a perfect blend and balance, and the playing was never anything less than pristinely articulate.

But this wasn’t some dry technical display. This was an insightful, expressive and often refreshingly playful reading, the sort of genuinely animated performance Mozart or any composer of the era would have loved.

One has to think Strauss, too, would have been pleased. The account of his Suite Op. 4 offered by 13 members of the CSO Tuesday was right on the Straussian money, a performance that boasted all of what distinguished the Mozart along with even richer textures, dramatic pacing and bolder virtuosity.

Above left, 2021 Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra Diversity Fellows open the show by performing Jessie Montgomery’s “Strum” Tuesday in the Amphitheater. Above right, Music Director Rossen Milanov conducts the winds section of the CSO during Mozart’s Wind Serenade in C minor Tuesday in the Amp. KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Time and again, the artists under Milanov proved their Strauss bona fides. The fugal finale was a marvel of clarity and insight, but across the work, the group’s pacing was flexible, its dramatic sense keen. In its playing was real warmth and marvelous color, and while every member had flattering moments in the sun, the horns in particular came off in especially regal, golden light.

That would have been enough to send listeners home happy. The late addition of Montgomery’s “Strum,” however, made the program only slightly longer but significantly more rewarding.

Woodwinds, of course, can’t strum. No, this was a piece for strings, specifically the CSO’s 2021 Diversity Fellows: violinists Yan Izquierdo and Scott Jackson; violist Edna Pierce, cellist Maximiliano Oppeltz; and bassist Amy Nickler.

In this short but highly effective single movement clearly penned by a string player, the five artists took turns offering crisp pizzicato support while the others passed around bustling, folk-style melodies. Out of a few simple ideas, they made a lively, joyous occasion.

The performance was outstanding, the last measure or two a dapper retort, but the true star of this particular show was the composer. Montgomery is already quite accomplished, but if there’s any justice in the musical world, she’s still going places far beyond Chautauqua and the Amphitheater.

Zachary Lewis is a freelance journalist in Cleveland. He is the former classical music and dance critic of The Plain Dealer.

Students prepare capstone of chamber music as their season comes to crescendo



Percussionists Liam McManus, left, and David Wang rehearse with pianists Narae Lee, left, and Kerry Waller for the Music School Festival Orchestra Chamber Players performance Thursday in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall. KRISTEN TRIPLETT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

As the School of Music season slowly winds down, members from the Music School Festival Orchestra and the Piano Program will come together to put on one of their only chamber recitals this season. The students will perform an eclectic program of both contemporary and classical works at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 18 in the Amphitheater. 

Sunday’s recital highlights the talents of these musicians in a more intimate setting. Chamber music is something that MSFO students didn’t get to perform as much this season, but it’s something that is special to each musician. 

“Chamber music is its own music-making,” said Timothy Muffitt, music director and conductor. “It requires a lot more knowledge of the score and requires developing interpersonal skills. Chamber music is a really important part of being a musician.”

There will only be one piece on Sunday’s program that will be performed with a conductor. This provides both challenges and opportunities for the students. 

“Without a conductor, it gives us a lot of power and responsibility when putting it together,” said David Wang, percussionist. “It’s up to us to really know our own parts and each other’s parts. Becoming one unit is our end goal for chamber pieces. Playing off of each other is the most challenging, but also the most fun.”

This recital is also special as it gives the percussionists and wind musicians of the MSFO the chance to showcase their talents through a unique mix of pieces. 

“It’s a program that provides a really nice balance to the repertoire, as there’s more music by living conductors,” Muffitt said. “Each work is dramatically different from the one before.”

The recital will open with Igor Stravinsky’s Octet for Wind Instruments. It will be followed by Andy Akiho’s LIgNEouS 5 for Marimba and String Quartet, Eric Nathan’s “Rothko Musings,” Francis Poulenc’s Suite Française and finish off with Béla Bartók’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion. 

The Stravinsky is the only piece being conducted, and will be done so under the baton of David Effron Conducting Fellow Joshua Hong. However, the musicians still make many of the decisions.

“We all have a common idea of what we want to do,” said Olivia Hamilton, clarinetist. “For chamber music we come up with our own ideas; the conductor doesn’t influence us completely. He’s just showing us so we remember during the performance.”

This piece features just winds and brass instruments, and allows each to shine through individually, while simultaneously blending together in a marriage of sound. 

“Stravinsky really showcases the extreme highs and the extreme lows of each instrument,” Hamilton said. “There’s instances where I’m playing the highest note and then the lowest note not too far from each other. I might be playing one measure with the flute and one with the trombonist and it creates such a different tone color which I really appreciate.” 

The Akiho piece is something the audience may have never heard before. Muffitt describes it as being “fabulously unique,” and said he was thrilled that the school can present it at Chautauqua. 

The piece heavily features the marimba and many unorthodox ways of producing music. 

“It’s very rhythmic and very percussion oriented,” Wang said. “There’s a lot of extended techniques from the marimba. Even the cello will have extended techniques like knocking on the instrument. It’s pretty unorthodox and nontraditional ways of playing instruments but that’s what makes it so unique.”

“Rothko Musings” is another contemporary piece that is unique sounding, as well. The composer, Eric Nathan, was inspired for this two-movement piece by Mark Rothko’s painting “White and Greens in Blue.” Nathan had always been inspired by Rothko’s paintings and would see them in various art museums. 

However, it was this painting in particular that captivated him. Nathan described this experience as a “little window opening something up within” that he then could “engage, foster and nurture my personal expression that came up.” 

This piece is also unique, as it only includes one bass trombone and two percussionists. 

“I felt as if the instruments that I chose reflected the sonic worlds of the painting and the textures that I was trying to convey,” Nathan said. 

The first movement of the piece represents what Nathan felt emotionally while he was engaging with the painting. 

“About the Rothko painting, I would also say that there is a sense of stillness, but also an expressive inner life and mystery to it as well. My first movement has a stillness to it but there’s an expressive voice that gradually emerges and glows from within the clouds of percussion chords,” Nathan said. “There’s a meditative serenity to it.”

The second movement then represents the paint itself on the canvas. Nathan wanted to capture the essence of what was occurring in the painting.

“The second movement is the paint on the canvas, zooming and interacting (with) how the world is like on the surface of the painting. You don’t see the colors  anymore, but an active interaction,” Nathan said, “finding more activity in the artwork, such as the brush strokes and the rectangular blocks Rothko is known for.”

The audience is able to experience this interaction through the music as Nathan describes this movement as “playful and dance-like.”  

“It’s almost a little raucous, with some jazzy quality, as well,” Nathan said. 

However, Nathan made a point to state that when listening to the piece, it’s up to the audience to interpret it how they want. 

“I think that the music tells its own musical story that the audience can find their own meaning in,” Nathan said. 

This piece was pivotal in Nathan’s career as a composer. It was his first piece that he composed as a master’s student at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. 

“It was a real departure for me, compositionally,” he said. “The nature of this instrumentation really forced me to rethink my language as a composer, and experiment in new ways. It was the beginning of a new trajectory as a composer.”

The Poulenc piece will feature oboes, bassoons, trumpets, trombones and one percussionist. 

Finishing with the Bartók Sonata is a bold choice, as this piece is known to be quite a difficult piece to conquer. 

“This is a rather iconic work,” Muffitt said. “It takes some really gifted musicians to pull it off, and we’re thrilled that we had people that could step up to the plate.”

The students are also excited to take on this challenge. 

“I know that this piece is very difficult but it really attracts me at the same time,” said pianist Narae Lee. “This piece has a lot of tempo and rhythm changes. This is a very unique combination with the pianos and percussionists, and is a very good opportunity for us students.”

This piece showcases these talented individuals and gives them an opportunity to perform a well-known piece together at the end of their season. 

“In a difficult year for chamber music, with very limited access to rehearsal space, we are delighted that two of our pianists will have the opportunity to play such an important cornerstone of 20th-century chamber music with percussionists from the MSFO,” said Nikki Melville, Piano Program co-chair. 

Since this is one of the last performances the School of Music will present, the students are excited to show how much they have grown and how strong their bonds are. 

“It’s been a spectacular experience. Even when we had performances it was for an empty crowd,” Wang said. “Seeing a big crowd out there supporting us makes each performance more meaningful. I’m especially looking forward to Sunday’s performance because it’s a lot of performing for us percussionists. I’m hoping to have a good crowd out there.” 

ChamberFest Cleveland, cellist Sterling Elliott to play Amphitheater



Sterling Elliott was born into music. While he was in the womb, his mother had a cello waiting for him. She wanted to have a quartet, so his two older siblings held a violin by the time they were 3, and she decided that Elliott, the youngest, would have the cello.

But Elliott didn’t want to play the cello. He wanted to play the violin like his siblings. Within a week of picking the violin, Elliott managed to accidentally break the neck off of the instrument. So he reconsidered the cello.

“What initially got me going was what my mom told me, that cellos made more money,” Elliott said. “So that really got little me rolling with it.” 

From there, his passion and career sprouted. At 7, Elliott became the first-place Junior Division winner of the Peninsula Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition and has since soloed with the New York Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra and many others. 

Now, a little over a month after his 22nd birthday and graduating from The Juilliard School, Elliott has been named a “Rising Star” of ChamberFest Cleveland, a classical music festival that for three weeks every summer brings world-class chamber music to Cleveland. 

At 8:15 p.m. Tuesday June 29 in the Amphitheater, Elliott and ChamberFest Cleveland will perform a lively set incorporating Schubert, Dvořák, Brahms and the Beatles.

Music has the power to give people faith and hope. It can cheer people up and completely change their mood.”

Sterling Elliott, Cellist, ChamberFest Cleveland

Elliott can’t wait to see the audience’s reaction to their performance. He said the pieces will be an eclectic mix and that the performers will be “making grooves and making vibes.”

“It’s magic,” Elliott said. “They’re some of the funnest pieces I’ve ever played. We’re having a blast. We can’t stop laughing over playing these pieces. And I just can’t wait to see how that translates across the stage.” 

Playing with new people is something Elliott enjoys immensely.

“I guess feeding off of their amazing energy and personality with who they are specifically, but also in musicianship, as well, is really just about something I could do all day,” Elliott said.

He has always loved playing music with friends and grew up playing alongside his family. Elliott said that despite her aspirations for a family quartet, his mother never intended for her children to be professional musicians. She was introduced to music in middle school, and it became an escape for her. His mother wanted Elliott and her other children to enjoy music as much as she did.

Now, Elliott listens to a lot of rap and rhythm and blues. One of his favorite artists is Foreign Exchange, a hip-hop duo that performs everything from rap to slow acoustics. 

“I was playing a playlist for someone,” Elliott said, “and an hour later, he was like, ‘This is all one person?’ I was like, ‘Yeah.’ ”

As Elliott recently posted on Instagram, “Music has the power to give people faith and hope. It can cheer people up and completely change their mood.”

Yet, music is often taken for granted. Elliott said that for him, music is as essential as breathing or eating.

“It doesn’t necessarily have to just be when we’re turning on a song like on an iPhone,” Elliott said. “It can just be if we’re just sitting on a beach, listening to waves, sitting in the park or any atmospheric noise.”

Violinist Joshua Bell and opera singer Larisa Martinez to perform ‘intimate home repertoire’ in Week Eight’s Cocktails, Concerts and Conversations


Joshua Bell is usually rushing. 

With a career spanning more than 30 years as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist, conductor and director, Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era. And it shows in his annual schedule, performing in more than 150 concerts a year.

“I love the adrenaline, and I do it joyously,” Bell said. “But (the COVID-19 pandemic) has given me a new sense of time and a new chance for reflection. I think that affects the music-making in positive ways, and allows me to explore repertoire that has been on my bucket list. I believe we will come out of this with a new sense of inspiration.” 

Instead of Carnegie Hall or even the Amphitheater stage, where Bell performed with trumpet player Chris Botti in 2016, and as a soloist with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra in 2018, Bell and his wife, Larisa Martínez, will record their virtual performance from their Westchester country home, which fortunately includes a living room concert hall. 

“We have always thought it would be the perfect place to have home concerts for friends and family,” he said. “It’s a house salon in the old-fashioned style — it’s a very intimate setting.” 

Bell and Martínez will perform at 5 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 21 on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform. A Sony Classical artist, Bell has recorded more than 40 albums, garnering Grammy, Mercury, Gramophone, and Opus Klassik awards. Named the music director of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields in 2011, he is the only person to hold this post since Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958. Martínez is an artistic resident of Turnaround Arts, led by the Presidential Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. For the last two years, she has toured with Andrea Bocelli, debuting at Madison Square Garden and throughout North America, South America and Europe. 

The “intimate program” begins with Felix Mendelssohn’s “Ah, ritorna età dell’oro.” Bell said Mendelssohn is one of his favorite composers, and this 1834 aria is “beautiful, yet not often played.”

“Larisa and I had plans for next summer to do a whole tour together, but when we started exploring violin and voice repertoire, we found there is not a lot written natively for that pairing, so we have had to rely on arrangements when putting this together,” Bell said. 

Following Mendelssohn is Fritz Kreisler’s “Liebesfreud” and Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria.” According to Bell, “Ave Maria” is particularly fitting for this concert, given that it’s music “meant for the home space.”

“The song was meant for small spaces, as in it wasn’t written originally as the big, bold concert piece we know it as today,” Bell said. “Like most of the songs Schubert wrote, it wasn’t published during his lifetime because it was created for the soirées in his home.”

Next is Georges Bizet’s “Carmen Fantasy,” Op. 25, Heitor Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasileiras,” No. 5, and a West Side Story Medley, arranged by William David Brohn and Charles Czarnecki. Bell said it highlights the “best pieces from the musical.” 

West Side Story is one of the greatest American pieces of the 20th century,” he said. “It’s a masterpiece, something everyone knows so well. Larisa is from Puerto Rico, and I think of her as just the perfect Maria. I guess that means I play Tony, in a way, on the violin.”

To close out the evening, Bell and Martínez chose an encore: Manuel Ponce’s “Estrellita.”

“‘Estrellita’ is Ponce’s most famous melody, and an iconic one at that,” Bell said. “I have played it on the violin many times, but we both love this song so much, we came up with an arrangement where we hear the melodies from both of us. There is not even a piano, it’s just me and the voice. That’s as intimate as we can get.”  

This program is made possible by Bruce W. and Sarah Hagen McWilliams.

1 2 3 4 5
Page 2 of 5