Chamber Music Festival schedule jam-packed
By Kathryn Purcell
It started in 2003 with four concerts. Since then, the Madison Chamber Music Festival, presented by the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, has grown to 13 concerts in 10 locations over a span of 21 days.
Locations, strictly limited to the Cultural Center Auditorium in 2003, now include various settings within the Cultural Center, from the Auditorium to The Hall to the Front Lawn, as well as three of Madison's historic homes, Perk Avenue Cafe and Coffee House, the Steffen Thomas Museum, Madison Baptist Church and Sandy Creek Barn.
Madison's Chamber Music Festival is the brainchild of the Cultural Center and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Principal Cellist Christopher Rex, who also functions as the Festival's artistic director. Also the general and artistic director of the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, which happens in early June each year, Rex often recruits musicians from that festival to play in Madison.
While quite a few of the same musicians participate in both, the content and programing of the Madison Chamber Music Festival and the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival aren't exactly the same.
"There are a lot of changes, so that it's not a reproduction," Patricia DuBose, Cultural Center marketing director, said. "But it is a stopping point for a lot of big names."
This year's Festival will see the likes of soprano Alison Buchanan, pianist Andreas Haefliger, pianist Yuja Wang, the American String Quartet, the Parker String Quartet, Trio RPM and Rex, among others.
And that's just the first week.
• The 2008 Madison Chamber Music Festival opens on Saturday, June 14 at 5 p.m. at Madison Baptist Church with "The Many Moods of Alison," featuring Alison Buchanan, an internationally recognized British soprano, who will be performing classical and popular pieces, as well as spirituals.
Buchanan is known for her role as Bess in "Porgy & Bess," and has performed at the New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, the Royal Opera House and the Los Angeles Opera, to name a few. Most recently, Buchanan has debuted at Carnegie Hall, and performed in Delius' "Koanga" at Sadler's Hall in London to mark the bicentennial anniversary of the abolition of slavery in England, according to information provided by the Cultural Center.
Further, this is the sole vocal performance in the Festival.
"It's just Alison because she's been so popular in the past and her repertoire is so varied," DuBose said.
Additionally, church choir members are urged to attend this performance, and are being offered a discounted ticket price of $10 per person, according to DuBose. Choir members are asked to speak with their respective directors, and the Cultural Center is asking that directors contact them with a head count. Otherwise, tickets are $20 per person.
• The second concert in this year's Festival, set for Monday, June 16 at 8 p.m. at the Cultural Center's Auditorium, is "Haefliger Nacht," a concert featuring pianist Andreas Haefliger.
"He is known as a 'musician for musicians,'" Ruth Bracewell, Chamber Music Festival director, said.
Coming from Austria, Haefliger is making the stop in Madison en route to the Aspen Chamber Music Festival. Haefliger will be joined by four other musicians in playing the works of Germanic composers (Schubert and Brahms, for example), including Brahms' well-known "Piano Quintet in F Minor."
Tickets are $25.
• "Americans in Paris Dinner Concert," the Festival's third concert, is slated for Tuesday, June 17 at 7 p.m. at The Hall of the Cultural Center.
The concert is a collaborative effort between the American String Quartet and Trio RPM, and both ensembles will be performing works with Parisian origins, including music by composers Ravel and Debussy.
Dinner, catered by Hallie Jane's, will be served before the performance and will work in tandem with the Parisian theme of the concert. Dessert and coffee will be served during Intermission.
"The concert will have a French flare; the dinner will have a French flare," Bracewell said.
Further, both Bracewell and DuBose cited this as one of the most intimate concerts, as the ensembles will be seated on risers rather than on a stage, making them closer to concert-goers' eye level.
Tickets are $50, and the cost includes dinner.
• "Lunch with Trio RPM," the fourth event concert in the Festival series, will take place on Wednesday, June 12 at noon at one of Madison's historic homes.
This concert features the works of Trio RPM, made up of Rex, Elizabeth Pridgen and Amy Schwartz Moretti.
"Lunch with Trio RPM" is sold out.
• "Mendelssohn Octet," the Festival's fifth concert, also takes place on Wednesday, June 12. The concert begins at 8 p.m. at the Cultural Center's Auditorium.
One of the most popular pieces at chamber music festivals, according to Bracewell, the "Mendelssohn Octet" provides something different to audiences, as it consists of more than just a small ensemble of two, three or four musicians playing; instead, there are eight.
At the Madison Chamber Music Festival, the Parker String Quartet, described by Bracewell as being "young" and "exciting," makes up half of the ensemble and will be joined by four other talented musicians.
Tickets are $25.
• Reaching the halfway point in this year's Chamber Music Festival, "Yuja and You" is the Festivals' sixth concert, set to take place on Saturday, June 21 at 5 p.m. at the Steffen Thomas Museum.
The featured musician is Chinese pianist Yuja Wang, who will be joined by Rex.
Another intimate setting, according to Bracewell and DuBose, the audience will be close enough to get a up-close-and-personal view of Wang's hands at work.
Further, the Steffen Thomas Museum location provides for an interesting combination of art forms.
"The setting combines visual and performing arts," Bracewell said.
Tickets are $25.
Tickets for this year's Madison Chamber Music Festival can be purchased through the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center by calling 706.342.4743 or toll-free 877.233.0598, faxing order forms to 706.342.1154 or by bringing order forms to the Cultural Center at 434 South Main Street in Madison. For more information, call, visit the Web site at www.madmorg.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are not available for purchase on the Web site.
Stay tuned to the Morgan County Citizen for a quick preview of the last half of the sixth annual Madison Chamber Music Festival.