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Pul-Leeze!

‘Tis The Season For Giving

Be generous to your favorite non-profits – and we hope we are on your list! Help us keep the world-class music coming!

Tell me it’s not the Holiday Season again. Tell me the calendar’s wrong and a whole month has been omitted. Tell me that, if I just close my eyes and click my heels together, it will be March or April. Does someone expect ME to bring toys, casseroles, pies or whatever to a gathering? Me? Have you ever tasted my home-cooked meals? And decorations: I have to haul everything down from the attic and try to figure out how to put it all together again. As for gifts, I know I’ll spend a fortune on stupid, useless things that no one really wants.

Do I sound like the Grinch? Well, I’m sorry, but it is what it is. I’ll bet some of you agree, although you might not admit it. 

Do I sound like the Grinch?  Well, I’m sorry, but it is what it is. I’ll bet some of you agree, although you might not admit it. Are you still caught up in the idea of carolers trekking through the snow in their Victorian apparel to sing at your front door in glorious harmony? C’mon! It doesn’t snow in San Antonio, and if you see someone walking down Houston Street in top hats and satin dresses, they probably just recovered from a Halloween party.

And the little kids with their rosy cheeks and wide eyes? Sorry. They’re busy with their electronics and can’t be bothered with toy trains and dolls. Are you actually roasting a turkey this year? Well, I tried that, and, believe me, it goes a lot better if you remember to take the plastic bag full of gizzards out of the turkey first… As for pies, I can give you the name of some really good bakeries.

Before you go absolutely around the bend, please put a CD in your player. Not Christmas music, pul-eeze:  there’s enough of that in elevators! No, something like the Ariel String Quartet playing Mozart. 

So there.  I’ve said all I can about the wonders of the holiday season – except for one small item.  Before you go absolutely around the bend, please put a CD in your player.  Not Christmas music, pul-eeze:  there’s enough of that in elevators!  No, something like the Ariel String Quartet playing Mozart.  Find a comfortable spot, close your eyes and just enjoy. You’ll feel so much calmer, I guarantee. Oh, and when the music ends and you’re ready to face the over-cooked turkey, the lumpy potatoes, the pie that fell apart and that string of lights that only lit every other one – before you’re ready to do the Happy Holidays Shuffle again, remember:  someone appreciates and needs you.  Yes, you.

We, the San Antonio Chamber Music Society, we appreciate your faithful attendance at our concerts, we love your generosity that keeps those concerts coming each season for all these years and we look forward to seeing you (or whatever’s left) at our January 26th concert.  By then, you should be sufficiently recovered from the holidays to enjoy the Akropolis Reed Quintet, right?  Help us keep the Sunday afternoon concerts coming and – oh, yes: Happy Holidays!

– E Doyle

The Making of a Musician

If you have read the posting by Allyson Dawkins, our Outreach and Education Chair, you already know we sponsor Monday concerts and classes at local schools; I know she has written about our last venture which was very successful, but I’d like to tell you my impression of the magic that happened in the school gym.

This elementary school accepts children who may require some help in addition to the regular standard curriculum. The Ariel String Quartet members (two violinists, a violist and a cellist) had performed a magnificent concert the day before, and they were ready, willing and most able to take on an audience that ranged in age from 7 to 10.  It was quite a cold morning, this Veterans’ Day, and the children were bundled up as they filed in from the playground where there had been a special commemoration to mark the day.  They were arranged by their teachers in rows, seated on the floor, and there was a hush of anticipation as the musicians tuned their instruments.

As they began to play, I surveyed the audience – fully expecting to see someone pinching a neighbor or whispering secrets, but they were quiet.  Then I noticed a young man in the first row.  His elbow rested on his knee and his chin rested on his hand as he leaned slightly forward.  He never moved.  I’m not sure he even blinked his eyes.  He was, to me, the Norman Rockwell personification of a boy who was completely caught in the gold and silver threads of the music.  I thought, as I watched him, so rapt, so attentive, “This is how musicians are made.”

I thought, as I watched him, so rapt, so attentive,
“This is how musicians are made.”

There were another two grades of young children who were ushered in by their teachers, and this group included a little bespectacled boy who sat by the door and commenced a Classic Meltdown.  He wept, he hollered, he banged his heels on the floor.  As the musicians began their concert, he became quiet and, after a while, I noticed he had crept closer to the main group, moving stealthily on hands and knees until he reached a few feet from the last row of children.  There he sat and, was he listening?  I couldn’t say for sure, but his head moved back and forth in time to the rhythm of the music.  Something had gotten through to this little fellow and I wished his parents could see the transformation that the music, classical music, had wrought.

I think we all know the magic of music:  how it makes us forget the every day, how it can ease worries and smooth the brows.  And how it can affect even rambunctious little boys, at least for a little while.  These two may never pick up a violin or write a score, but they may be future members of our audiences.  Like you and me.

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all, and be sure to mark January 26 on your new 2020 calendar.  That’s the date of our next concert, the Akropolis Reed Quintet.

– E Doyle

Ariel Quartet Outreach Event

Ariel Quartet Outreach at Lamar Elementary School on November 11, 2019

Kudos to SACMS board member, Paul Giolma, for having us invited to present an educational outreach for very young listeners at Lamar Elementary.  Lamar is situated on one of the streets that defines the border of Mahncke Park just off Broadway.  We were greeted at the entrance by a magnificent and huge oak tree estimated to be 150 years old.  As we made our way to the gymnasium, we passed by many more equally beautiful and old oak trees in the courtyard.  The gym, open, airy, and decorated in bright colors, was our concert hall for the two concerts.  The students sat happily on the floor and squeezed up close to be near the quartet members.   A wide age range attended – for the first concert, second and third graders, and for the second, fourth through sixth graders.

The musicians began by speaking in their native languages – Sasha Kazovsky in Russian; Amit Even-Tov in Hebrew; and Jan Grüning in German.  Of course, almost no one could understand what they were saying.  So then the concept of music as universal language was introduced.  Violinist Gershon Gerchikov explained the difference between the instruments that comprise a string quartet.  The group played movements from a Haydn Quartet and a Beethoven Quartet demonstrating moods ranging from happy to sad and from introverted to extroverted.

If you would like to support the Outreach events of the SACMS, please consider donating to the Mandel Trust for Education.

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins

A Musical Conversation

We often speak of chamber music as being a conversation among musicians.  In order to carry on an interesting conversation there is respect one for the other, contributions from one or another that carry the conversation forward and a sense of commonality, community and harmony.  So when you are privileged to hear such a conversation rendered in music, it’s easy to imagine that this is precisely what the composer had in mind.  Such was the musical conversation we heard last Sunday, the 10th of November.  The Ariel String Quartet, augmented but never overpowered by the artistry of San Antonio Symphony Principal Clarinetist Ilya Shterenberg, performed not just intensely, but interestingly.

 The Quartet led off with Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 8.  The Program Notes said that in July, 1960, he was supposed to write the score of a film about the horrible firebombing of Dresden; instead, he composed the achingly sad Quartet No. 8 which he dedicated to victims of war.   Somewhere at the depth of this performance, I reflected on the nationalities of the artists – not something that usually draws my attention.  But the fact that they represented cultures that had been scarred by war made the music all the more poignant.  The two Largo movements, performed with so much soul (for want of a better word) were simply heart-breaking.

For the Mozart Clarinet Quintet and for the Weber Clarinet Quintet, Ariel was joined by a master of the clarinet, Ilya Shterenberg.

For the Mozart Clarinet Quintet and for the Weber Clarinet Quintet, Ariel was joined by a master of the clarinet, Ilya Shterenberg.  To the great good fortune of San Antonio, Mr. Shterenberg is a major artist in our own Symphony Orchestra and it was a pleasure to experience his magic at such close range. He has performed with the Ariel previously and knows each musician and this friendship was evident in the blending and joyful conversations among the quartet and the virtuoso.

Finally, the Ariel Quartet performed a very familiar composition, Schubert’s Quartet in D minor (“Death and the Maiden”).  They didn’t just dust if off and launch into the well-known movements; they made it their own, interpreting Schubert’s lyricism and bringing this beautiful composition to life.  The saddest aspect of this music was not the death of the young girl but the death of the composer, at age 31, shortly after this complex and masterful expression of genius was written.

Continuing this stellar season of the San Antonio Chamber Music Society, we invite you to join us for the Akropolis Reed Quintet Sunday, January 26, 2020, at 3:15 p.m.  The prize-winning Akropolis is an ensemble of five young and energetic performers whose performance has been described as “pure gold.”  You may just change your mind about the versatility and artistry of reed instruments!

– E Doyle

Ariel String Quartet with Ilya Shterenberg

Ariel String Quartet with
Ilya Shterenberg

November 10, 2019

“…impassioned, fiery performances…”

Distinguished by its virtuosity, probing musical insight, and impassioned, fiery performances, the Ariel Quartet has garnered critical praise worldwide over the span of nearly two decades.  Formed in Israel as teenagers at the Jerusalem Academy Middle School of Music and Dance, the Ariel was named recipient of the prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award, granted by Chamber Music America in recognition of artistic achievement and career support. The ensemble serves as the Faculty Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, where they direct the chamber-music program and present a concert series, in addition to maintaining a busy touring schedule in the United States and abroad. 

 Joining them in concert is our own San Antonio Symphony Principal Clarinet  Ilya Shterenberg who is also Principal clarinetist of the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra (Columbus, OH).  Ilya Shterenberg balances a busy career as an orchestral musician, chamber music performer, and a soloist. Hailed by the press: “He possesses that miraculous gift of an innate musical sense…music seemed to flow toward the infinite, as if divinely ordained”, Mr. Shterenberg’s performances have been heard on National Public Radio stations throughout the country as well as Chicago’s WFMT nationwide classical music network.

Program

SHOSTAKOVICH
Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110

MOZART
Clarinet Quintet in A major, K. 581

VON WEBER
Clarinet Quintet in B-Flat Major, Op. 4
Rondo: Allegro giojoso

-Intermission-

SCHUBERT
Quartet in D minor, D. 810,
“Death and the Maiden”

Members

Alexandra Kazovsky, violin
Gershon Gerchikov, violin
Jan Grüning, viola
Amit Even-Tov, cello
Ilya Shterenberg, clarinet

Venue

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

“…A blazing, larger-than-life performance…” - The Washington Post

“…a consummate ensemble gifted with utter musicality and remarkable interpretive power…” - American Record Guide

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