Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Get Bach: Market Square Concerts revs up a season ranging from Baroque to modern masters.

According to Peter Sirotin, artistic director of Market Square Concerts, music is more than a group of notes strung together on a page. On the contrary, it speaks volumes about the times in which it was written.

“I believe that music has the power to connect us to the particular culture, historical period and our personal experiences on a deep level, sometimes almost immediately,” he said.

Market Square Concerts’ upcoming season is a testament to all that Sirotin tells us. For instance, the opening concert on Oct. 9 features all six Brandenburg Concertos by J.S. Bach, allowing the listener to “experience the atmosphere of 18th-century royal festivities and village merriment, personal longing and joy,” Sirotin said.

All in fewer than two hours.

The energy of these pieces forces audiences to sit up, take notice and, perhaps, view the Baroque era as something other than fussy and “old.” Indeed, Sirotin said, the Brandenburg Concertos have tremendous vitality and imagination and are central to the history of western classical music composed between 1717 and 1720. Some pieces use as few as three instruments, others as many as 17.

Market Square Concerts will collaborate on this program with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra featuring its principal players, as well as celebrated harpsichordist Arthur Haas. Jeff Woodruff, the HSO’s executive director, will give a pre-concert talk about the Brandenburg Concertos on the evening of the performance.

“I have loved these works since childhood and performed most of them on occasion,” Sirotin said. “But I always wanted to present them in one evening, in all of their splendor.”

More splendor follows on Nov. 10 when Market Square Concerts presents the Brown-Urioste-Canellakis Trio, three talented, young musicians who have already amassed impressive awards. Pianist Michael Brown, also a composer, will regale the audience with his piano trio, “Reflections,” written for his friends and fellow musicians, violinist Elena Urioste and cellist Nicholas Canellakis, and in honor of Sharing Notes, an organization that brings interactive classical music performances to Chicago-area hospitals.

On Jan. 9, young Spanish violin virtuoso, Francisco Fullana, winner of the Avery Fisher Career Grand, together with Chinese pianist, Jiayi Shi, will perform a program of music by Beethoven, Enescu, Debussy and Bartok. Fullana comes to Harrisburg thanks to “Partners in Performance,” a grant awarded to Market Square Concerts to promote high quality performing arts in small communities.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us, particularly because Mr. Fullana will also visit Cumberland Valley, Mechanicsburg and Hershey middle and high schools for special educational presentations as part of our educational outreach program ‘Soundscape,’” Sirotin said.

Another unique aspect of this performance is that Fullana will play on the 1735 “Mary Portman” ex-Kreisler Guarneri del Gesu violin on loan through the Stradivari Society of Chicago.

“This is one of the 10 or so best violins in the world,” Sirotin said. “And, in the hands of Mr. Fullana in the wonderful acoustics of the Market Square Presbyterian Church, it should make for a memorable experience.”

While the church will be the location of the first three performances, the next one, on Feb. 20, will take place at Temple Ohev Sholom on Front Street in Harrisburg and will feature a return visit by the award-wining Doric Quartet from the United Kingdom.

The group’s program will offer listeners a chance to closely follow the evolution of the string quartet through the lighthearted music of Joseph Haydn, an exuberant piece by Felix Mendelssohn and, finally, to Bartok’s Fifth String Quartet, reflecting the turbulence of the 20th century and considered a “pinnacle of Modernism,” according to Sirotin.

Market Square Concerts returns to the church in Harrisburg for its final two performances. On March 24, Grammy award winner and 2009 Musical America’s Ensemble of the Year, the Pacifica Quartet, will perform three string quartets by Dmitri Shostakovich.

“The program will feature his String Quartets number 1, 7 and 3, which are my personal favorites because they so vividly communicate many aspects of life in the USSR as I remember it growing up,” Sirotin said. “From always speaking in hushed tones to multilayered, absurdist sense of humor, to the obvious farce of government propaganda and to the quiet intensity of daily life under the watchful gaze of the secret police apparatus.”

The season will conclude on April 24 with the Rolston String Quartet, a young Canadian group, which will perform works by Haydn, Ligeti and Brahms.

Music tells us stories and digs into our souls. The 2018-19 Market Square Concerts season allows audiences to experience all of that through the creativity of today’s most brilliant performers.

For more information on Market Square Concerts, visit

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