Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

String Fling: Market Square Concerts presents a timely season

Vesna Duo

Peter Sirotin is tasked with planning, choosing and scheduling a full roster of chamber music events. It’s not easy.

Lately, a lot has been going on in the musical landscape that he wants his audiences to experience. As the 2022-23 season approached, he searched for representations of chamber music’s glorious past and present but also the classical musicians and compositions that foretell the future of the art.

“We live in a time of unprecedented growth of chamber music repertoire because of many wonderful additions by living composers and because of tremendous work by performers unearthing often unjustly overlooked gems,” said Sirotin, co-director of Market Square Concerts.

Sirotin cites the exceptional artists, along with their passion for the music they play, as having the ability to open up audiences to new artistic experiences.

For starters, on Sept. 28 at Market Square Presbyterian Church, the Balourdet Quartet and flutist Adam Sadberry, winners of the Concert Artist Guild International competition, will perform a program of American chamber music, including Samuel Barber’s “String Quartet Op. 11,” along with a lighthearted suite of Duke Ellington hits. Compositions by Katherine Hoover and Amy Beach round out the program.

On Nov. 3, Market Square Presbyterian Church again will host the next MSC concert, this time featuring the award-winning Israeli Chamber Project. According to Sirotin, this dynamic ensemble is now in its second decade and has garnered numerous awards, including the 2011 Israeli Ministry of Culture Outstanding Ensemble Award and 2017 Partos Prize in recognition of its passionate musicianship, creative programming and commitment to educational outreach.

“I had my eye on the Israeli Chamber Project for quite some time,” Sirotin said. “The group has a limited availability for touring in the U.S. and, after five years of trying, we are delighted to present them between their appearances at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and Kennedy Center.”

On Jan. 10 at Whitaker Center, the award-winning Dali Quartet will offer a program of string quartets by Juan Crisostomo Arriaga, a Spanish prodigy composer and contemporary of Beethoven, Silvestre Revueltas, one of the most original Mexican composers of the 20th century, and two luminaries of Argentinian music, Astor Piazzolla and Alberto Ginastera.

On Feb. 15, MSC returns to Market Square Presbyterian Church, where tenor Limmie Pulliam and pianist Mark Markham, a recital partner of the legendary soprano Jessye Norman for 20 years, will celebrate Black History Month. While MSC is dedicated to presenting a wide variety of instrumental chamber music, this concert is an exceptional vocal program that Sirotin is excited to present to Harrisburg audiences.

“Mr. Pulliam has garnered an array of wonderful reviews for his performances with the LA Opera and Cleveland Orchestra,” Sirotin said. “He also just recently made his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra. I am particularly thrilled to present Limmie Pulliam in a program of American art songs, which will include wonderful compositions by Black composers, historically overlooked by artists and presenters.”

On March 22, a “musical surprise” awaits audiences when the Vesna Duo performs at Whitaker Center. Described as “inventive,” “innovative” and “unique,” the pair is comprised of a pianist from the Republic of Georgia and a marimba player from Serbia who perform their own extraordinary arrangement of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.”

“This group creates their own arrangements, reimagining some of the familiar orchestral and chamber compositions in an entirely new world of sound,” Sirotin said. “I am very much looking forward to introducing these artists to our audience.”

As part of their visit, the Vesna Duo will perform a special educational program for school children and offer a masterclass at Messiah University.

Rounding out the season, on April 29, will be the annual “Stuart and Friends” at Market Square Presbyterian Church, where music by three women composers, Rebecca Clarke, Jennifer Higdon and Amy Beach, will be celebrated. Beach and Clarke achieved success in the late 19th century and early 20th century, respectively, when female composers were rare and usually discouraged. For example, Beach’s husband, a surgeon 24 years her senior, objected to her public performances as a pianist and to her professional activities as a composer because he didn’t believe it was socially acceptable for a woman of her class to earn money as a professional musician.

“Amy Beach is one of my favorite American composers because of the clarity of style and emotional richness in her works,” Sirotin said.

MSC is entering its fifth decade and continues to unearth those musical gems from the past, present and future of chamber music. Midstate audiences are the lucky recipients of those gifts.

For more information on Market Square Concerts, visit www.marketsquareconcerts.org.

 

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