is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Chamber Music Is Easy on the Ears

When Music Talks:  Chamber Music is Easy on the Ears
Chamber music can best be described as “four rational people conversing.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
by Kim Thomas

 If there was an 'easy listening' section to classical music, it would be Chamber Music. Usually only strings, four or five, gently play just as they played in centuries past in the homes and palaces of those who enjoyed such a life of luxury. Usually, this form of music does not include solo instrument performances, and because of its intimate nature, has been described as "the music of friends." For more than 200 years, chamber music was played primarily by amateur musicians in their homes, and even today, when most chamber music performance has migrated from the home to the concert hall, there are still many musicians, amateur and professional, who continue to play chamber music for their own pleasure, as such music requires special skills, both musical and social, which are different from the skills required for playing solo or symphonic works. Goethe’s description as "four rational people conversing" is a recurring analogy generally used in the analyses of chamber music. [Source: Wikipedia]

(see this week's ACE Weekly for the printed story :)
 This week, the conversation continues here in the Bluegrass, when the UBS Chamber Music Festival of Lexington presents its 2009 edition, with concerts planned for Friday and Saturday evenings, August 28 and 29, and the popular Sunday family friendly event set for Sunday afternoon, August 30. The programs will again be presented at the Fasig-Tipton Pavilion on Newtown Pike, with piano and violin master classes to be held in mid-week (and open rehearsal at Central Christian Church) free and open to the public. There will also be plenty of discussion concerning the locally commissioned work of art which will be prominently displayed to serve as the centerpiece for the event.

Lexington’s own virtuoso violinist Nathan Cole returns to serve as Artistic Director, joined by Akiko Tarumoto, violin; Burchard Tang, viola; Priscilla Lee, cello; and Alessio Bax, piano. Bax is the recent winner of a prestigious 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant, awarded to talented instrumentalists judged to have great potential for solo careers. Past recipients of this high honor have included Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, and Gil Shaham.

Festival Director Rob Wiseman underscores the event’s role and purposeful impact in Lexington. “Since our inception in 2007, we have put a primary emphasis on being an active organization in the community. We feel that a great way to do this is by utilizing as many of the great resources Lexington has to offer as possible. Having an open rehearsal at Central Christian (Thursday, August 27 at 7:30 p.m.) will allow us to engage new audiences by showing the challenging ‘behind the scenes’ work of our musicians. The Master Classes as well, occurring on Wednesday the 26th, provide the public an opportunity to see our musicians hard at work teaching our area's most talented young artists.” Wiseman explains that planning for this year's festival began shortly after last year's festival ended. “I was hired at the end December of 2008, and have been working diligently ever since to make the festival an event not to be missed. There have been many board meetings, phone calls, emails, etc. all with the support of our extremely active Board President, Charlie Stone. Most inspirational to me have been the little comments I receive very frequently by a patron, friend, or attendee of previous festivals and how much they value what we are offering to the community. As a musician myself, I can say that Lexington is truly blessed to have artists of this caliber making music in our city. Alessio Bax, our pianist, this year has received the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. Our composer-in-residence, Clancy Newman, also received this award in 2007. Add to this players from the finest orchestras in the world: Akiko Tarumoto, violin; Priscilla Lee, cello; Burchard Tang, viola; and Artistic Director and violinist Nathan Cole, and we have a musical roster that is hard to rival anywhere.”

“This year is going to be another exciting one for us! If you take a look at our website,, you will see that we have a week packed full of great music. Of particular interest to Ace Weekly readers might be the "Setting the stage" program on Sunday afternoon. For this concert, our Artistic Director, Nathan Cole, will use the first half of the performance to dissect Elgar's Piano Quintet. In an exciting Multimedia presentation, audience members will have the opportunity to learn about Elgar the man, the historical context of the piece, and the intricacies of the music itself. On the second half, the work in its entirety will be performed.”

Centerpiece Artwork by Arturo Sandoval

Millennium Quintet

Bill and Beverly Fortune will serve as Honorary Chairs of the festival this year, succeeding Don and Mira Ball. World-class fiber artist and well-known University of Kentucky professor Arturo Alonzo Sandoval has created a stunning original piece that will serve as the visual hallmark of this year’s festival called Millennium Quintet.

Sandoval is excited to be associated with the Chamber Music Festival, and states that his commissioned work was the result of a visit to his art studio a few years back. “Charles Stone, of Charles Stone Advisory Group, who organizes the event, was interested in a round art object and he recalled visiting my art studio two winters ago where he saw several round artworks in progress. He approached me with the idea and asked if I would consider creating the artwork for this year's event.” Although Sandoval has had an enduring and close association with UK and LexArts, this is his first time working with the chamber music organizers, and his hope is that this will be the first of many commissions for the Festival

The piece took three months of studio time to create, and Sandoval found his inspiration by looking to the heavens. “As my previous round artworks are inspired from planetary concepts, I decided to expand my MILLENNIUM PORTAL series to accommodate the commission objective. He finalized his ideas using his customary method. “Whenever I do a commission, I usually provide the client with at least three design possibilities. Charles Stone and Charles Thompson came by the studio and made the selection from the three in-progress artworks. The designs initially had just four planets each, but when it came to discussing the title of the piece, MILLENNIUM QUINTET, with these two gentlemen I found I had to include a fifth planet. How could I forget that the festival musicians are a quintet!?”

“The challenge was to include this fifth orb without disturbing the already balanced composition I created on each in-progress artwork. Ergo, I chose to add a fifth planet that was created from a lighter overall hue, and one that would recede in order for the balance to be maintained. Charles Stone was made aware of each change I added to the selected design in order to increase the contrast between the central area and the outer ring areas. Once the piece was finished, the two Charles met me at the South Hill Gallery frame shop to select the wood frame, color of matt, and type of glass to use for the final presentation. The final result is very pleasing, especially as low-reflective museum glass was used. This glass is designed to make the artwork look as if there is no glass at all separating the viewer from the artwork.”

Artist Arturo Sandoval’s description of the commissioned work:

Millennium: Quintet, 2009, 36" diameter framed, machine stitched/embroidered, and pieced, recycled paintings, netting, monofilament/color threads, rag paper, fabric backed, Velcro. Lexington Chamber Music Festival commission.


The 2009 festival will again feature a composer-in-residence, made possible by a generous grant from Dr. Ronald Saykaly and his wife Teresa Garbulinska. The composer-in-residence Saykaly and Garbulinska sponsored last year, Daniel Thomas Davis, was recently honored as one of ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers for “Book of Songs and Visions,” the piece he wrote for 2008 festival.

The 2009 composer-in-residence will be Clancy Newman, who is also a celebrated cellist. Newman will write a piano quintet that will have its world premiere at the festival concert on Saturday, August 30. Newman, also winner of an Avery Fisher Career Grant, is a native of Australia. A graduate of the five-year exchange program between the Juilliard School and Columbia University, he has performed as a soloist in most of the country’s major cities, and has been a member of Chamber Music Society Two at Lincoln Center and Musicians from Marlboro. He is currently a member of the Chicago Chamber Musicians and the Weiss-Kaplan-Newman trio. As a composer, he has been featured on the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s “Double Exposure” series and the Chicago Chamber Musicians’ “Freshly Scored” series, and has received commissions from Astral Artists, the Barnett Foundation, and the Carpe Diem String Quartet.

Newman will be in residence for the entire Festival Week, and will perform with the group on stage during one of the concert evenings. “We are thrilled to be able to again offer our community a world premiere,” said festival president Charlie Stone. “We are very grateful to Ron and Teresa for their support of this special feature of our festival. We are also mindful of the great support we get from founding sponsors UBS and Highbridge, and are so pleased as well to have important support from LexArts, the Lexington Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, and other businesses and individuals who collectively make our festival a reality each summer.”

The UBS Chamber Music Festival of Lexington will present its 2009 edition during the last week in August, with concerts planned for Friday and Saturday evenings, August 28 and 29, and the popular Sunday family friendly event set for Sunday afternoon, August 30. The programs will be held again this summer at the Fasig-Tipton Pavilion on Newtown Pike. Scheduled also again this year are piano and violin master classes to be held in mid-week, free and open to the public.

Schedule of Events - UBS Chamber Music Festival of Lexington -  August 26-30, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
6:00 pm Violin MasterClass……..First Presbyterian Church – Chapel
7:30 pm Viola MasterClass……....First Presbyterian Church – Chapel
7:30 pm Cello MasterClass……... ArtsPlace Gallery
7:30 pm Piano MasterClass………Christ Church Cathedral – Great Room

Thursday, August 27, 2009
7:30 pm Open Rehearsal Central Christian Church – Evans Music Room

Friday, August 28, 2009
8:00 pm Concert Fasig-Tipton Pavilion

Saturday, August 29, 2009
8:00 pm Concert Fasig-Tipton Pavilion

Sunday, August 30, 2009
2:00 pm Concert Fasig-Tipton Pavilion
For more information visit or call 859.802.8814

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