July 19, 2022

Season 17

Our 17th season includes a spectacular series of mainstage subscription concerts and we are pleased to welcome audiences back to Mechanics Hall and Curtis Hall, venues with acoustics that will enhance your listening experience. This year we pair classic pieces by familiar artists with newer works by brilliant composers of our own time. This season it’s in with the old AND the new as you discover what the works of Mozart and Bach have in common with those of Jessie Montgomery and Mark Berger and how living composers are keeping the tradition of classical music thriving in the modern era.

September opens the season with Consider the Source. Chinary Ung’s Child Song was inspired by folk songs from his Cambodian childhood and Jessie Montgomery’s Source Code is rooted in Black American spirituals. The concert also features Judith Weir’s Three Chorales for Cello and Piano which draws on poetic imagery and Antonin Dvorak’s String Sextet Op.48 which incorporates motifs from folk music.

Soundscapes in Time explores the blossoming of ideas, whether through the opening of an actual flower in Mark Berger’s Bloom or the blooming of a beautiful musical introduction in Mozart’s beloved Clarinet Quintet. Joseph Bologne, Chevalier De Saint-George’s String Quartet in g minor Op.1 No. 5 and Kate Whitley’s Duo for Violin and Viola round out the program and show how beauty can flower and flourish throughout time.

Season of Light, this year’s holiday concert, features baroque favorites paired with lesser known works equally festive and enchanting. We’ll perform Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, Corelli’s Concerto Grosso Op. 6 No. 11, and Telemann’s Concerto in G major for 4 Violins alongside Isabella Leonarda’s Sonata Duodecima for Violin and Cello and Joseph-Marie-Clement dall’Abaco’s Caprice No. 1 for Solo Cello, making this a celebratory program sure to brighten the season.

Our ever-popular Spotlight Concert returns this year, featuring the extraordinary Randall Hodgkinson. Randy performs as part of the ensemble on most of our programs, but here he’ll take center stage, using his considerable talents to dazzle audiences with Bach’s Goldberg Variations, and Chopin’s Piano Sonata No.3 in B minor. This is not to be missed.

The final mainstage concert of the season, Swept Away, provides a breathtaking conclusion to our series and features a majestic instrument that we don’t typically have: a harp (and the harpist Franziska Huhn is pretty spectacular in her own right)! And Then I Knew ‘Twas Wind by Toro Takemitsu will carry you away on a dreamlike breeze, followed by the haunting sounds of Andre Caplet’s Conte Fantastique (Mask of the Red Death) based on the short story of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe. Piano Quintet No.1 in C minor by Gabriel Fauré follows, continuing the air of mystery and adventure.

As always, subscriptions for these concerts offer substantial savings over single ticket purchases; you can select the full series or create your own, and tickets for individual concerts are also available.

And if you want to experience even more live performances, be sure to keep an eye out for more information on our other upcoming events: our Annual Family Concert, Annual Senior Concert, Very Open Rehearsals, and more are still to come!

 

April 5, 2022

Looking East

It’s hard to believe that we’re here already, but this month WCMS will be performing the final installment of our Crossing Borders series. We will be ending our Main Stage season with two concerts, one on Friday, April 22 at the Fitchburg Art Museum at 7:30pm, and another on Sunday, April 26 at the Jean McDonough Arts Center BrickBox at 4pm. 

Opening the concert is Edvard Grieg’s String Quartet No.1 in g minor, Op. 27. A Norwegian composer and pianist, Grieg is one of the most well-known composers from the Romantic period. He found inspiration in Norwegian folk songs and used themes from them to develop his own compositions. This string quartet was written while living at a farm in Hardanger and is representative of the sheer grandeur of the stunning Norwegian landscape that surrounded him. After listening to this piece you will surely understand why Grieg has become such a beloved figure not only in Norway, but to music lovers everywhere.

Next up on our program is  a Trio for Flute, Viola and Cello by Hungarian composer

György Kósa. Though perhaps a lesser-known composer himself, Kósa studied under some big names – including Béla Bartók –  and taught piano at the Budapest Conservatory. Well-versed in a wide variety of styles, his Trio for Flute Viola and Cello brilliantly highlights each of the instruments while simultaneously showcasing the influences of his Hungarian roots.

Finally, our program will conclude with Piano Quintet No.1 by Polish composer

Grażyna Bacewicz. Born into a family of composers, Bacewicz studied piano and violin from an early age and eventually studied at the Warsaw Conservatory where she graduated as a violinist and composer. Following her graduation, she moved to Paris where she studied composition with Nadia Boulanger and upon her return to Poland went on to become the principal violinist in the Polish Radio Orchestra. During the Second World War she continued to compose and host concerts in secret. Her Piano Quintet No.1 was composed post-war and encapsulated elements from the music of her Polish heritage while putting a unique and modern spin on her traditional influences.

February 8, 2022

March Madness (Music Edition)

We don’t often perform two concerts in the same month, and we’ve probably never performed two such different programs back to back, but here we are! We’ve got quite an exciting weekend coming up the first weekend of March when we perform two concerts in person at the Jean McDonough Arts Center.

WCMS Blog

Joshua Gordon, cello and Randall Hodgkinson, piano

 

Spotlight Concert

 On Friday, March 4 at 7:30 pm, our rescheduled Spotlight Concert features WCMS core musicians Joshua Gordon, cello, and Randall Hodgkinson, piano, performing music ranging from lush and lyrical to spare and ethereal. They also perform widely as the Gordon Hodgkinson Duo, and The New Yorker has called them “an insightful and impassioned cello piano duo.”

Gordon is a Professor at Brandeis University, teaches masterclasses, and does outreach work in the greater Boston area. He plays cello with various groups around New England and has been praised as “a superbly equipped cellist with a big sound and musical personality” by the Boston Globe. Hodgkinson is an acclaimed pianist, having won multiple performance awards and competitions. He has also performed as a soloist with orchestras in both America and Europe.

The duo’s performance will begin with Cello Sonata No.1 in E minor by Johannes Brahms, followed by Marti Epstein’s Lazy Susan. Born and raised in Colorado, Epstein studied composition at Boston University and currently teaches at Berklee College of Music. Epstein has received multiple international commissions and is known for her unique style of modern classical music, which she describes as being “neither tonal nor atonal.”  The concert will conclude with George Walker’s Cello Sonata. Walker drew inspiration from a wide variety of styles, creating numerous unique works in a style that was truly his own. In 1996 he became the first Black composer to win the Pulitzer Prize in Music and he was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame in 2000. These carefully selected works highlight the talents of both the composers and of Gordon and Hodgkinson. You can see the concert in person or live-streamed.

 

Worcester Chamber Music Society Family Concert

 

Family Concert

 Just two days later, on Sunday, March 6 we change gears completely for our Free Family Concert, with performances at 1:30pm and 4:00pm of Aaponi’s Destiny by Erik Jorgenson with a combination of music, art and science. It’s a unique and interactive choose-your-own-adventure style story about a mayfly that’s sure to entertain and engage audiences as they decide where Aaponi the mayfly goes on her journey through life. The story is accompanied by art created by students from Creative Hub Worcester, the Gerald Creamer School and the New Citizens Center. It’s recommended for grades 3 and up. Students from our Neighborhood Strings program open the show. This year we’re collaborating with the Ecotarium and Creative Hub Worcester. Be sure to arrive early so that you can visit the Ecotarium’s mayfly/insect display.

November 1, 2021

Worcester Chamber Music Society’s season is underway!  Live concerts at the JMAC BrickBox, in-person Neighborhood Strings, and much more ahead make this season feel so much better than last.  

Live Concerts are Back

We opened the season in late September in Harvard and Worcester with two performances of American Voices, featuring music by Black American composers, and presented the world premiere of composer Matt Malsky’s chamber opera A Dill Pickle just two weeks later.  Audiences were impressed with the new venue at the Jean McDonough Arts Center (“the JMAC”), and they were thrilled to be able to attend live performances.  Coming up this month is French Connections (November 14) at the JMAC, before we head to the First Congregational Church in Princeton and the Worcester Historical Museum in December for performances of Baroque in Winter (December 9 and 10). This is our first performance in Princeton, and thanks to a grant from the Princeton Cultural Council, we’ll be able to offer a limited number of free tickets for Princeton residents. 

We were honored to be invited back to MIT for an expanded fall residency in November and to perform the world premiere of composer Charles Shadle’s String Quartet No. 4 on November 20. This performance is free and open to the public. 

And that’s just the first half of the season!  Learn more about the rest of the season here.

 

NS kids stand in front of new mural

Neighborhood Strings

From Education Director Ariana Falk:

As summer turned into fall, Neighborhood Strings got back up and running with energy and vitality. We started the year by ogling the gorgeous mural painted in late summer at our new space at the Main South Community Development Corporation, painted in partnership with our own students and Main IDEA. If you look closely, you can see the music to “Ode to Joy” painted into the mural! At the CDC, we are happy and proud to be offering a daily string ensemble this year, running each afternoon after school. It’s inspiring to see some of the same faces turn up five days a week and to feel we are truly creating a safe, creative, and inviting space through music.

We also have lessons and ensembles at our partner institutions Woodland Academy, Learning First Charter Public School, and Clark Street School, where Debby runs a special violin program for recent immigrants and refugees in the New Citizens classroom.

We are still focusing on keeping safe with masks and small groups, but it’s an amazing feeling to be completely live and in person – the way music is meant to be.

 

New Initiatives

We’re thrilled to announce our partnership with Clark University’s newly established Sweeney Community Music Mentorship Program. The program will provide a structured and intensive experience for Clark students to work alongside our Neighborhood Strings faculty. Mentorship is a key element of Neighborhood Strings and this new collaboration allows us to deepen the mentorship experience.

Over the summer, we performed a free concert at UMASS Memorial Hospital as a musical “thank you” to all the employees there who had worked so tirelessly through the worst of the pandemic.  It was so well-received that we are in the process of developing “Music and Healing, a series of free concerts in accessible public spaces intended to offer moments of peace, healing, and respite to anyone who might need them.  Plans are still underway, but the idea of creating the series has been met with a lot of enthusiasm.

 

It has been a busy fall and the best part about it is being together again in person! 

Be well,

Tracy Kraus, Executive Director