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Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival 2021
June 4 @ 12:00 am - June 12 @ 12:00 am
Chesapeake Music announces the 36th annual Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival will be held June 4 through 12 at its new permanent home, the Ebenezer Theater, located at 17 South Washington Street in Easton. The festival’s exciting two-week program of six concerts featuring 15 artists will be presented live, in full compliance with state and local COVID-19 regulations, as well as streamed on the web.
Artistic directors Marcy Rosen and Catherine Cho have created a compelling program of chamber music masterworks by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Schumann, among others, as well as intimate duo performances of music by Joseph Bologne, William Grant Still, William Bolcom, and Amy Beach.
The festival’s opening extravaganza on June 4 will introduce Chesapeake Music’s new Steinway & Sons concert grand model D piano and feature Mozart’s Piano Trio in G Major and Dvoák’s Piano Quartet in E-flat Major. And, on June 11, the new piano will again be in the spotlight with performances of Mozart’s Piano Trio in C Major, Beethoven’s Serenade in D Major, and Schubert’s Fantasia for Piano, Four Hands, in F minor.
Performing at this year’s festival are both distinguished artists well-known to festival attendees and outstanding new musicians. Among them, festival favorites, the brother violinists Daniel and Todd Phillips, and violist Steven Tenenbom, are joined by cellist Timothy Eddy and return as the Orion String Quartet, performing Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor with another festival favorite, acclaimed pianist Robert McDonald, on June 12.
Internationally renowned pianists Diane Walsh and Ieva Jokubaviciute also return to join cellist Marcy Rosen, violinist Catherine Cho, and other artists. Diane Walsh and Ieva Jokubaviciute are featured together on June 5 playing Schumann’s Six Studies in Canon Form and Bilder aus Osten “Pictures from the East” for piano, four hands. Acclaimed flutist Tara Helen O’Connor is also featured in several performances, and rising star, violist Molly Carr, joins the festival for the first time.
The roster of artists performing at this Festival includes J. Lawrie Bloom, clarinet; Molly Carr, viola; Catherine Cho, violin/viola; Timothy Eddy, cello; Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano; Robert McDonald, piano; Tara Helen O’Connor, flute; Peggy Pearson, oboe; Daniel Phillips, violin; Todd Phillips, violin; Marcy Rosen, cello; Francesca dePasquale, violin; Peter Stumpf, cello; Steven Tenenbom, viola; and Diane Walsh, piano.
Sponsors of this year’s festival include Talbot Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council, Paul and Joanne Prager, and other donors. Visit www.chesapeakechambermusic.org for a complete program listing.
Concert Opens With Two Outstanding Composers
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), and William Grant Still (1895-1978) – the two composers whose works will open the “Dynamic Duos” concert on June 5 – may not be familiar today, they were certainly well known to their contemporaries.
In the mid-18th century on the island of Guadeloupe, Joseph Bologne was the illegitimate son of a wealthy planter and a household slave. At the age of seven, the child was sent to Paris where he attended the Académie Polytechnique. By the time he had finished school, Joseph was a champion fencer and a member of the king’s bodyguard. Simultaneously, to everyone’s astonishment, the newly designated ‘Chevalier de Saint-Georges’ revealed himself to be both a violin prodigy and a budding composer; in his lifetime he created an impressive number of chamber works, vocal works, and “Opera Comiques.” As the leader of the best symphonic orchestra in Paris, he commissioned Haydn’s “Paris Symphonies,” which were performed before Queen Marie-Antoinette.
The story of the Chevalier de Saint-Georges resembles a romantic novel. He flourished as a favored musician in the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, conducted concerts in France and England, and during the Revolution, was made a colonel in the first Black regiment known in Europe. Disappointingly, this service to his country ended as the Chevalier spent 18 months in jail, ostensibly having neglected military duties for musical pursuits. He died at 54, after a brief illness.
In 1895, only 32 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, William Grant Still was born in Woodville, Mississippi. He started playing the violin as a teenager and before long had taught himself to play the clarinet, saxophone, oboe, double bass, cello and viola.
At Wilberforce University, instead of pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree as planned, William immersed himself in music, conducting the University band, composing, and doing orchestrations. He enrolled in Oberlin Conservatory of Music and later studied privately with Edgard Varèse and George Whitefield Chadwick.
In the 1920s, William played in W.C. Handy’s band, then in well-known pit orchestras and dance bands. In the 1930s, he worked as an arranger of popular music. In 1931 his first composition for orchestra, “Symphony No. 1, Afro-American,” was performed by the Rochester Philharmonic conducted by Howard Hansen, and in 1936 William conducted a performance of his own works in the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.
He arranged music for many films and composed “The Song of a City” for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. Although the exhibit “Democracity” played it continually, the composer required police protection at the fair unless he agreed to attend only on “Negro Day.” William composed several operas, one of which, “Troubled Island,” was performed by the New York City Opera, and he continued to conduct and compose until his death in 1978.
Although 150 years separated their birthdays, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges and William Grant Still had some things in common. Both were frequently frustrated by racial bias underrating their talents and holding back the recognition that they deserved. Yet, the intensity of their devotion to music and their unflagging discipline meant that both composers would not only rise to acclaim but remain successful for years to come. Although their gifts brought them attention at an early age, it was their musicianship and professionalism that secured their places in history.
For further information or to purchase tickets, visit chesapeakemusic.org.