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Asheville Chamber Music Series Showcases the Musicians of the Festival Pablo Casals Prades Collective

10-17-2014 by Laura McDowell of the Classical Voice of North Carolina

The second concert of the Asheville Chamber Music Series, presented at Asheville’s Unitarian Universalist Church, featured six musicians from the Festival Pablo Casals Prades Collective.. In 1950 Casals founded a festival to celebrate the bicentennial of Bach’s death in Prades, a town in the south of France in the Pyrenees Mountains where the famed cellist resided in exile from Spain. The town has remained home to the festival, and, still going strong, is now under the artistic direction of Michel Lethiec, who was clarinetist in…

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Bruns and Martin Play Beethoven and Ravel

9-12-2014 by Laura McDowell of the Classical Voice of North Carolina

The Asheville Chamber Music Series has returned to its home at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville on Edwin Place for its 62nd season. Another tie to “home” was the appearance of pianist Brad Martin, a piano professor at Western Carolina University, who, with violinist Justin Bruns performed a program of sonatas by Beethoven and Ravel. The attendance at these chamber music concerts has remained strong throughout the years, and all the usual suspects were there for this recital, along with new audience members. Because the series routinely engages artists from other regions of the country, it was thrilling to hear…

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Andreas Klein and the Minguet Quartett Pay Tribute to Gould, Bach, and Mendelssohn

2-23-2014 by Laura McDowell of the Classical Voice of North Carolina

The program opened with four excerpts from Bach’s Art of the Fugue, S.1080, composed beginning ca.1742, at the end of Bach’s life. Left incomplete at Bach’s death, the commonly-accepted version of the work Bach called “Contrapunctus” comprises fourteen fugues and four canons centering on the key of D minor. Because Bach did not indicate instrumentation for the piece, scholars are left wondering whether he wrote it merely as an academic exercise, rather than a work meant for performance. The medium of string quartet works exceptionally well for each fugue, as one can hear clearly the inner workings of all the parts. The Minguet Quartett performed No. 1 (a fugue on the main theme), Nos. 3 and 4 (each employing an inversion of the main theme), and No. 9 (a double fugue) with clarity and restraint. Their distinct bowings and minimal use of vibrato resulted at times in a cohesive sound style reminiscent of a viol consort and achieved a remarkable result: the distinct voicing of each part without undue individual intrusion into the whole…

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Three Centuries and Three Composers: Ciompi Quartet Tackles the Music of Classical Giants

2-23-2014 by Jason DeCristofaro of the Classical Voice of North Carolina

The Asheville Chamber Music Series hosted the globally renowned Ciompi Quartet, an ensemble founded by Giorgio Ciompi at Duke University in 1965. The legacy continues, with the current four members – first violinist Eric Pritchard, second violinist Hsaio-mei Ku, violist Jonathan Bagg, and cellist Fred Raimi – all holding faculty positions at the prestigious school. The quartet took on the incredibly challenging task of tackling music by three master composers, each from a different century.

The first selection, Haydn’s String Quartet in G Major, Op. 76, was from the 18th century, and a fitting opening since it was composed by none other than the creator of the ensemble as it is configured. The opening three chords were played with all the resonant brilliance one would expect to hear in a declamatory fanfare…

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Asheville Chamber Music Presents the Dynamic Modigliani Quartet with Joyce Yang

11-15-2013 by Laura McDowell of the Classical Voice of North Carolina

Asheville Chamber Music Series holds pride of place as not only one of the longest-running chamber music series in the US (this is the 61st season) but also one that engages top artists at the peaks of their careers. It’s no wonder that each event plays to a full house; and in fact one must come early to get a good seat. Biltmore United Methodist Church, with its lively acoustics, was the new host venue for this fine concert, located here to accommodate the increased number of performers. Members of the Modigliani Quartet were joined by pianist Joyce Yang for works by Haydn, Ravel, Mozart, and Schumann.

Violinists Philippe Bernhard and Loïc Rio, violist Laurent Marfaing, and cellist François Kieffer, all close friends, formed the Modigliani Quartet in 2003. Following their studies at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, they have steadily garnered international acclaim through their many appearances and recordings. In just over ten years they have amassed an impressive array of awards, beginning in 2004; only one year after they were formed, the ensemble won the Frits Philips String Quartet competition in Eindhoven, Holland. Their four recordings on the Mirare label (available from major outlets) have, likewise, been award winners. In addition, each member plays a historic instrument: the violins are by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini (1780) and by Alessandro Gagliano (1734), the viola is by Luigi Mariani (1660), and the cello is by Matteo Goffriller (1706, former”Warburg”). The sound of these instruments resulted in a warm and beautifully blended ensemble…

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Trio Solisti – A Trio of Trios Makes For a Great Evening

4-5-2013 by Joshua Hutchins of the Classical Voice of North Carolina

The Asheville Chamber Music Series closed its 60th concert season with a performance by world renowned Trio Solisti at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville. The trio, consisting of violinist Maria Bachmann, cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach, and pianist Jon Klibonoff performed an astonishing set of three trios that captivated the audience from beginning to end.

The Trio opened with the rarely performed Piano Trio No. 2 in B minor by Joaquín Turina. This wonderful work received a delicate, passionate, and intimate treatment that suits such a romantic work. From the very first note, the audience was entranced by the wondrous music these fantastic players made. With each and every phrase perfectly together each player seemed to only be a part of one whole instrument. There were many times when Ms. Bachmann and Ms. Gerlach had phrases that intersected and wove around each other throughout the entire concert, and it was in these moments that the two ceased to be anything but purely expressive beings. Mr. Klibonoff’s playing as a whole was something that I have rarely heard from a pianist, his dynamic and melodic flexibility certainly is part of the core of what makes Trio Solisti great…

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ACMS Goes Rogue With the Stellar Players of Windscape

2-10-2013 by Laura McDowell of the Classical Voice of North Carolina

The venerable Asheville Chamber Music Series has engaged many fine artists since the launch of its first concert in 1952. The vast majority of their performances have featured the standard literature for strings — either classic string quartets, or strings with piano, such as duos or trios — and a glance at their current season bears out this proclivity. With this concert, however, new territory was tested with Windscape, an extraordinary wind quintet that delights in playing their own arrangements of the music of non-wind composers. One senses their impatience with the limitations of the standard wind repertory when they explain their overriding reason for playing their spectacular transcriptions — the need to perform good music. The large audience at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville was treated to an afternoon of exceptional music making by these giants in the wind world.

Space won’t allow more than a cursory introduction to the ensemble members. Flutist Tara Helen O’Connor is a current artist member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and is…

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ACMS Education Outreach Program Brings Opal String Quartet to Area Schools

Here are a few photos from the most recent visit this winter-

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Asheville Chamber Music Series Celebrates Its 60th Season with the Jupiter String Quartet

By Laura McDowell of the Classical Voice of North Carolina

When Joe Vandewart and ten other visionaries created the Asheville Chamber Music Series in 1952, I doubt even they would have foreseen the impact it would have on the cultural life of this city. In its 60th year and going strong, the series continues to enrich concertgoers and students of string music in the Asheville and Buncombe County Schools. The Jupiter String Quartet, a Boston-based ensemble which was formed in 2001, attracted a near-capacity audience to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville.

There is a web of family connections within the group. Violinist Megan Freivogel is married to cellist Daniel McDonough and is sister to violist Liz Freivogel. While not related to anyone else in the ensemble, first violinist Nelson Lee also comes from a family of musicians. It was while he, Daniel and Meg were at the Cleveland Institute of Music that the nucleus of the group was formed, to be completed by Liz, who was then at Oberlin College. The quartet models itself on the work of the original Cleveland Quartet and the current Takacs Quartet. They perform internationally and to critical acclaim.

The program began with a joke, Haydn’s Quartet in E-flat, Op, 33, No. 2 (1781), so-named “The Joke” for its humorous…

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David Finckel & Wu Han Perform to a Packed House

We at ACMS had much to celebrate as this concert marked the opening of our 60th Season and we unveiled our new Steinway B piano.

The concert was a huge success!


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