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Les Amies, Our Friends, Too

Who needs the Oscars when you have friends like Les Amies?

If you had told me that a harp, a flute and a viola made a viable musical combination, I would have questioned your hearing if not your sanity.  OK, so I was wrong and you were right.  Somehow, these three widely different instruments can come together to produce heart-breaking harmonies and timing so precise that it is sometimes difficult to discern which instrument is playing the lead.  Les Amies, three distinguished musicians whose regular jobs are with the NY Philharmonic and teaching at Juilliard, realized they really enjoyed performing and creating music together as a trio – an unlikely trio, I think – and we are all the lucky beneficiaries of that enjoyment.

The music they performed for the fourth San Antonio Chamber Music Society concert this season was beautifully suited to their three (and sometimes just one or two) instruments.  It was a trip to another realm, far away from the hum drum and hustle of life (and Oscar Sunday) and out into the stratosphere, where every note and phrase has a life of its own.  They often invited us to “sit back and relax,” and that we did.  The music produced by this unlikely trio was somewhat akin to submerging into a warm bath.  It was peaceful music, such a welcome relief from the world outside Temple Beth-El.  Oscars, schmoscars!

It was a trip to another realm, far away from the hum drum and hustle of life (and Oscar Sunday) and out into the stratosphere, where every note and phrase has a life of its own.

Their program built to the Debussy, their last selection.  The Sonata pour flute, alto et harpe is devilishly difficult to perform with all its twists, turns, changes in tempo and keys, but it could have been written for these musicians.  They performed it effortlessly.

And I don’t know about you, but when as an encore they performed “Scarborough Fair,” I could have just cried.  (By the way, they will be recording a three-part piece including “Scarborough Fair” in the near future.)

So now we have three new amies.  Did you miss the Oscar hoopla?  Not I.  These three consummate musicians have certainly worked very, very hard to be able to produce their sound, but – to use a time-honored Texas saying – we never even saw ‘em sweat.

Harp, viola and flute?  You could have fooled me!

– E Doyle

Les Amies Trio

Join us on Sunday, February 26, 2017

One of the most exciting new ensembles to emerge in today’s music scene, “Les Amies” is the collaboration of three well established, highly esteemed, and much loved artists. New York Philharmonic Principal Players Nancy Allen, harp, and Cynthia Phelps, viola, join internationally renowned flutist Carol Wincenc to form one of the most dynamic trios that this particular instrumental combination can produce. Merging their individual skills of high artistry and extraordinary technical command, they explore a vast range of repertoire rich in color, texture and imagination. Each of these artists stand alone at the top of their field, winning first prizes in such competitions as the Naumburg, Israel International Harp Competition, Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition, Concert Artists Guild and Pro Musicis. As soloists, they have been featured with the symphony orchestras of Chicago, New York, London, St. Louis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Minnesota and Hong Kong, as well as the chamber orchestras of England, St. Paul, Los Angeles and Orpheus.

All have performed, toured, or recorded with some of today’s most esteemed chamber groups, such as the Guarneri, Tokyo, and Emerson String Quartets, and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, where they have also been seen and heard on “Great Performers of Lincoln Center Live”. They appear regularly in today’s top chamber music festivals including Aspen, Marlboro, Santa Fe, La Jolla, Mostly Mozart, Vail, Portland, Seattle and Music from Menlo.

Championing new music has been a priority for these artists; collectively they have commissioned works from the composers Lucas Foss, Joan Tower, Christopher Rouse, Peter Schickele, George Rochberg, Stephen Paulus, and Sofia Guibaidulina, among many others. Their representation on disc includes the recording labels of Deutsche Gramaphone, Telarc, Decca, Arabesque, Naxos, Virgin and Cala records.

As the name “Les Amies” suggests, they are long-time colleagues, and revel in the glory of their blossoming relationship as artists, bringing to their audiences the color and beauty of this unusual trio combination of flute, viola and harp.

“Our critics have looked back on the best of the 2013-14 season. And the winners are … well, the season isn’t a boxing match nor yet a drawing. But quality does separate the champions from the also-rans. Our choices are …. TRIO LES AMIES

Daily News Arts Critics

“I enjoyed hearing chamber music played by principal players of what is arguably the finest orchestra in the country. I also appreciated that the players varied the ensemble: all playing together, flute and viola, harp solo, and a large ensemble. And, finally, I loved the music that Trio Les Amies made. Their performance was intense yet joyful.” Joseph Youngblood

Members:

Nancy Allen (harp)
Cynthia Phelps (viola)
Carol Wincenc (flute)

Program

IBERT
Deux Interludes
Entr’ Acte

BAX
Elegiac Trio

RAVEL
Sonatine en Trio

-Intermission-

DEVIENNE
Duo in C minor Op.3 No.1 for Flute & Viola

FAURÉ
Après un rêve .. for Viola & Harp
Impromptu for Solo Harp
Morceau de Concours for Flute & Harp

DEBUSSY
Sonata pour Flute, Alto et Harpe

Venue

Temple Beth-El
Address: 211 Belknap Place
Time: 3:15 PM

Review: Aeolus Quartet

Take a close look at our SA Chamber Music logo:  see the swirl?  Thanks to the Aeolus Quartet, who performed a concert for us last Sunday, January 22, the swirl makes perfect sense to me.  Like the Nike “swoosh” signifies speed and aerodynamics, the swirl is a wrap-around sound of beautiful music.  Now I’m not saying the Mozart Adagio and Fugue weren’t close to musical perfection, and I love almost anything Aaron Copeland ever wrote, but the Barber Quartet and the Schumann Quartet were pure – well – swirl.  These very young, very talented musicians created a Temple-filling swirl of sound that was really glorious.

These four who comprise the Aeolus have already made their musical mark in the concert halls of the world.  Only nine years old, they are reaching the top of quartet glory.  They use American-made instruments – most of which are even younger than they – and they create a sound that can only be described as luxurious.  When they performed the Barber, I thought, “I know what he meant.”  I’ve heard that second movement, the “Molto Adagio,” many times, but this time I really listened.  And it was beyond solemn.

These four who comprise the Aeolus have already made their musical mark in the concert halls of the world. Only nine years old, they are reaching the top of quartet glory.

As for the Schumann, which Mr. Tavani said they had only performed in concert four times, well it was one of those performances you’d hope would never end.   Pure swirl.  It’s amazing that four very young musicians could understand the ideas and feelings of a Nineteenth Century master.  Much of what we consider “classical music” – that is, music composed in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries – is appreciated as beautiful, inspiring, uplifting and even thought-provoking, but Schumann’s composition as interpreted by Aeolus was all of that plus ethereal.  I kept thinking, “I wonder if they had a chance to chat with Schumann.  They seem to understand what he was saying.”  (Did I mention that I’m a big Schumann fan?)

So I hope you enjoyed that Aeolus concert as much as I did and will continue to enjoy the swirl that SA Chamber Music offers.  There are two more opportunities to experience it:  February 26 (Les Amies Trio) and April 23 (Calmus Ensemble).  And don’t forget you can use any of this season’s tickets or bonus tickets to bring a friend or two who could use a good swirl!

– E Doyle

Aeolus Quartet

Join us on Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Aeolus Quartet is committed to presenting time-seasoned masterworks and new cutting-edge works to widely diverse audiences with equal freshness, dedication, and fervor. Violinists Nicholas Tavani and Rachel Shapiro, violist Gregory Luce, and cellist Alan Richardson formed the Aeolus Quartet in 2008 at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Since its inception, the all-American quartet has been awarded prizes at nearly every major competition in the United States and performed across the globe. They were the 2013-2015 Graduate Resident String Quartet at the Juilliard School, and they currently make their home in New York City.

The Aeolus Quartet are Grand Prizewinners of the 2011 Plowman Chamber Music Competition and 2011 Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition. They were awarded First Prize at the 2009 Coleman International Chamber Ensemble Competition, a Silver Medal at the 2011 Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition, and a Bronze Medal at the 2010 International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition in New England. The 16th Annual Austin Critics’ Table named the Aeolus Quartet their 2010-2011 “Best Ensemble.” The Aeolus Quartet has released two critically acclaimed albums of classical and contemporary works through the Longhorn/Naxos label which are available on iTunes, Amazon, and major retailers worldwide.

The Quartet has performed across North America, Europe, and Asia in venues such as Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Reinberger Recital Hall at Severance Hall, Merkin Hall, The Library of Congress, Renwick Gallery, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center.

“…smoothly meshed technique with a sense of spontaneity and discovery…”

Baltimore Sun

“A rich and warm tone combined with precise ensemble playing (that managed also to come across as fluid and natural), and an impressive musical intelligence guided every technical and dramatic turn.” Mark Satola

Cleveland Plain Dealer

“…worthy of a major-league quartet…”

Scott Cantrell

Dallas Morning News

The Quartet is named for the Greek god Aeolus, who governed the four winds. This idea of a single spirit uniting four individual forces serves as an inspiration to the members of the Aeolus Quartet as they pursue their art.

Members:

Nicholas Tavani (violin)
Rachel Shapiro (violin)
Gregory Luce (viola)
Alan Richardson (cello)

Program

MOZART
Adagio & Fugue in C minor, K.546

COPLAND
“Two Pieces for String Quartet”

BARBER
Quartet in B Major, Op.11

-Intermission-

SCHUMANN
Quartet Op.11, No.3 in A Major

Venue

Temple Beth-El
Address: 211 Belknap Place
Time: 3:15 PM

Portuguese Lesson

Now that you’ve enjoyed the Brasil Guitar Duo, it’s time for you to learn a little Portuguese. It’s a wonderfully melodious language as spoken in Brazil, and it’s perfect for poetry and music. Let’s start with vocabulary words:

Tranquilo  =

Translates to tranquil, but it has the added meanings  of peaceful, relaxed and quiet.   A wonderful example is the music performed on a pair of quiet, perfectly synchronized acoustic guitars.  You may have noticed that the audience was absolutely quiet, too.   You may have also noticed that Joao and Douglas performed without sheet music.  Como poderem facer isto?  How do they do that?!

Maravillosa!  =

The description of Sunday’s concert.  It means, of course, marvelous, but it carries a deeper meaning of pure joy.  For example, Rio is known to Brasileiros as cidade maravillosa, the jewel on the ocean where everything stops for a party.

Sambear =

to dance the samba, the non-stop, hip-swinging, national dance of the cidade maravillosa;  naturally, someone who dances samba (doesn’t everyone?) is a sambista.

Musica brasileiro =

is, as you may guess, Brazilian music (as if there were such an entity).  You experienced the music of two composers, Gismonti and Pereira,  that was anything but samba.  See?  These Brazilians are multi-faceted!  And you’ve probably heard “The Girl from Impanema” a few times, but there’s the soul-stirring sound of the Northeast  (o nordeste), guacho  music of the South (o sur) and the music and rhythms that were brought to Brazil from Africa and the Carribean.  Tudos som a musica brasilera.  (It’s all Brazilian music.)

Sodade =

the homesickness you feel for the cool, blue ocean; the beaches; the wonderfully creative people of Brazil; feijoada (a black bean stew packed with flavors) every Saturday; and two  innately talented gentlemen such as Joao Rezende and Douglas Lara who have incorporated the music of the world into their Brazilian sensibility.

Joia! =

jewel, as in this performance was a jewel and I’m so glad we had the experience of enjoying (see the connection??) this wonderful concert.

Bom partido =

the name of the award-winning CD that launched the careers of the Brasil Guitar Duo.  It means, literally, a good departure, but it implies a good start.  Indeed, it was.

Obrigado.

(Thanks for coming to the concert) e ate logo (and we’ll see you soon).

– E Doyle

Brasil Guitar Duo

Join us on Sunday, November 20, 2016

Brasil Guitar Duo, a 2006 winner of the Concert Artists Guild International Competition, and hailed by Classical Guitar magazine for its “maturity of musicianship and technical virtuosity,” is equally at home on a classical or a world-music series. Its innovative programming features a seamless blend of traditional and Brazilian works, resulting in a full global touring schedule and a growing catalogue of critically acclaimed recordings. The Duo has appeared internationally on major concert series and at festivals in Cuba, Germany, England, South Korea, Colombia, Brazil, Austria, Panama, Poland, and Bermuda. Recent and upcoming U.S. engagements include recitals in such major venues as New York, Santa Barbara, Miami, Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, St. Louis, Tucson, Portland, Nashville, San Jose, and Oakland.

Committed to performing new chamber music employing the guitar, the Duo joined cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Carlos Prieto in the October 2014 world premiere of El arco y la lira, a work for two cellos and two guitars by the esteemed Cuban composer Leo Brouwer. On the same program—a highlight of the sixth annual Festival Leo Brouwer in Havana—the Duo gave the Cuban premiere of Brouwer’s Sonata de Los Viajeros, which they had presented in its U.S. premiere the previous month and recorded for a Naxos CD of Brouwer’s complete works for two guitars, scheduled for release in 2015.

Duo members João Luiz and Douglas Lora met in São Paulo as teenage guitar students and have been performing together for more than fifteen years. The Duo’s primary studies were with Henrique Pinto, Fabio Zanon, Paulo Martelli, Sergio Abreu, and Alice Artz.

“Brasil Guitar Duo’s long collaborative history is evident in the relationship that unfolds on stage. In fact, João Luiz and Douglas Lora have known each other since adolescence and have played together for over half of their lives. They are remarkably responsive to one another, needing hardly any eye contact, it seems.” Sarah Tyrrell

KCMetropolis.org

“…the Brasil Guitar Duo, comprised of João Luiz and Douglas Lora, delivered an impressive acoustic performance…” Léo Azambuja

For Kaua'i

Members:

João Luiz (guitar)
Douglas Lora (guitar)

Program

RAMEAU
Les Cyclopes

CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO
Prelude & Fugue

BROUWER
Sonata de Los Viajeros

-Intermission-

TORROBA
Madrilenas

GISMONTI (arr. Joao Luis)
Selected pieces

PEREIRA
Bate-Coxa

Venue

Temple Beth-El
Address: 211 Belknap Place
Time: 3:15 PM

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