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I will never forget the very first classical music concert I attended – do you remember yours?  Well, then, I’m going to bore you with mine!

At the old Municipal Auditorium, I sat way up in the balcony, and I mean WAY UP in the balcony.  No one could even see my elegant little black dress (purchased for the occasion and creating a big hole in my meager budget).  I felt quite splendid, but must confess I didn’t know what was going on.  I kept looking around to see what other people were doing as the orchestra played.  What does one do?  Do you applaud ever time the music stops?   I had no idea.  Some people were even nodding off.  How awful!

 

But then the orchestra struck up the Overture of 1812, and I thought that was the grandest music I had ever heard.  After the last cannonade and the thunderous applause, as  I carefully navigated down the balcony stairs, I smiled and thought, “I have to buy a recording of that!”  And so I did.  And the reverse side of that old LP was “Gaite Parisienne.”  Over the years, I played it so often, I must have nearly worn through that wonderful record.

And so, in the era of Elvis, I learned the language of classical music.  And then, I discovered chamber music.   No more bombast and big sounds, no more nosebleed balcony.  Just sitting among a few hundred other classical music fans, quietly listening to some of the most beautiful music ever written.

In the era of Elvis, I learned the language of classical music. And then, I discovered chamber music.  No more bombast and big sounds, no more nosebleed balcony.

I still love the symphony, the original “Big Band” sound of over 70 musicians filling a huge hall with glorious sound, but now I have added chamber music to the top of my Favorite Things list.  It is simply incredible that just a handful of musicians can elicit such sounds and emotions from only a few instruments.  To help us along, our very own grand dame of chamber music, the 73-year-old San Antonio Chamber Music Society, has been enthralling us with the music of chamber ensembles from all over the world.  We have been gifted with the best – and there’s more on the way: starting with Rossini, Schubert and Mozart played by the beloved Chamber Ensemble of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields (yes, THAT Academy of St Martin in the Fields, from across the pond) October 11, 2015. Can’t wait!

That’s only the beginning!  You know about the great Czech string quartet tradition – the Zemlinsky Quartet from Prague will bring to life the music of Mendelssohn, Krenek and Janacek on November 8.  After the new year, the world-renowned Gryphon Trio from Canada brings a mesmerizing program of pure poetry:  Debussy, Ravel and Wijeratne (January 24). Next up, the Shanghai Quartet with special guest Wu Man on pi-pa (a kind of Chinese lute) transport you to an enchanting world of exotic sounds (February 28).  To round off the season, the young American Dover Quartet, winners of the Banff International String Quartet Competition, will dazzle and charm with the works of Dvorak, Berg and Shoshtakovich (April 3).

If you appreciate beauty, structure, harmony – and the unexpected – well, this is classical music at its finest.  These are concerts to be anticipated and let yourself be captivated by.  I know you’ll see me there.  I’ll be the one smiling.

– E Doyle

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