Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Chamber Champion: Entering its 35th season, Market Square Concerts continues to bring the best in chamber music to Harrisburg.

Screenshot 2016-08-25 17.32.59Market Square Concerts’ long, prestigious history isn’t lost on its current artistic director, Peter Sirotin.

MSC has been putting on chamber music concerts for nearly 35 years, presenting world-class musicians for a fraction of the cost of attending their performances in New York or Washington D.C.

And, while recognizing this history, Sirotin also is aware that he must keep things fresh.

“Just to put the 35th anniversary in perspective, I would like to mention that MSC is older than some of the most well-known organizations of this type in the nation,” he said. “Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, for example, is only 30 years old.”

Founded by Lucy Miller Murray, who ran it for 27 years, the organization changed hands from 2008 to 2011, putting well-known area radio personality Ellen Hughes in charge. Now, Sirotin and his wife, Ya-Ting Chang, are beginning their sixth year as executive and artistic directors.

“Both Ellen and Lucy had been our mentors and truly inspiring champions of chamber music as an art form in the region,” Sirotin said.

So, what can concertgoers expect in this 35th season?

MSC’s opening concert at Market Square Church on Oct. 1 features Rebel, a New York-based Baroque ensemble that will explore music written in the 17th and 18th centuries for court, chapel and country.

Then, on Nov. 2, MSC will import the Heath Quartet from Great Britain to perform a program of Haydn, Dvorak and Michael Tippet.

“The November concert will offer a great opportunity to hear a rising start in the string quartet world just a couple of days before its Carnegie Hall debut,” Sirotin said.

MSC’s 35th anniversary celebration welcomes the new year on Jan. 21 at Whitaker Center with the world premiere of Jeremy Gill’s “Duo for Violin and Piano,” commissioned by Martin and Lucy Murray. Other program additions include the haunting “Horn Trio” by Brahms and the delightful “Trout” quintet by Schubert to be performed by Sirotin and Chang, along with some of their closest friends and colleagues.

The next two musical events will take place at Temple Ohev Sholom in Harrisburg. On Feb. 26, the Dover Quartet, the most recent winner of the National Cleveland Quartet Award, will perform works by Smetana, Shostakovich and the 2013 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, Caroline Shaw.

“MSC is one of only 11 other presenters, including Carnegie Hall, who participate in this biannual award,” Sirotin said.

Then, on April 5, Kristof Barati, a violin virtuoso, will return to MSC after his debut here two seasons ago. His all-Bach program, Sirotin said, will be part of a mini-residency in Harrisburg, which will also include a masterclass for the area students at Messiah College and two performances of the Khachaturian violin concerto with the Harrisburg Symphony.

MSC’s final program heads back to Market Square Church on May 3. It will feature winners of the 2015 Concert Artists Guild International competition. Pianist Daniel Hsu and the Verona Quartet will perform a contrasting program of lyrical Piano Sonata Op. 110 and String Quartet Op. 59 No. 1 by Beethoven and the dramatic Piano Quintet by Franck.

Deciding on programming and gathering performers, from both here and abroad, is no easy feat, Sirotin said. It involves finding a date that works for the performer or group, obtaining visas for international artists, and keeping an eye on the weather lest a concert needs to be rescheduled. But, to Sirotin, the challenge is all worth it.

“I love seeing people’s reaction to discovering a great new piece of music,” he mused. “Or perhaps a rather well-known gem that they are just hearing for the first time.”

For more information and tickets, visit or call 717-221-9599. Remaining tickets are available at the door.

Author: Lori M. Myers

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