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Welcome to Chamber Music Hamilton

Experience fine music as you never heard it before — by the great players of the world and up close in the Art Gallery of Hamilton. All concerts at 2pm, generally on Sundays.

It's a pleasure to welcome you to another season of great music with players brought to Hamilton from around the world. It's also my tenth year curating the series and I've invited a few of my favorite quartets, and a chamber production of a Canadian classic by my composer wife Abigail.

Michael Schulte Artistic Director

C. Saint-Saens:  Carnival of the Animals

A. Vivaldi:  Winter from The Four Seasons
Soloist Michael Schulte

A. Richardson-Schulte:  The Hockey Sweater

On Sunday, October 6th, 2pm at the AGH we begin with our annual Special Feature production and a dozen CMH concert artists — violinists Michael Schulte and Adam Despinic, violist Caitlin Boyle, cellist Orsi Lengyel, bassist Brian Baty, flutist Liesel Deppe, clarinetist Dominic Desautels, percussionist Rich Burrows, and pianists Shoshana Telner and Brett Kingsbury. These players can bring to life the beloved Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns in its original orchestration for eleven instruments – ok, swapping out the glass harmonica. Who has one of those? Its use was a party trick in 1886. Our party trick for 2019 is mime artist Trevor Copp and narrator R.H.Thomson (Canadian actor with all imaginable decorations including the Order of Canada and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Lifetime Achievement Award). Our party gets even more boisterous with  Abigail Richardson-Schulte’s famous “The Hockey Sweater” in an arrangement commissioned for these forces. This musical incarnation of the classic story was written in 2012 and has been a big hit and an annual staple among Canada’s major orchestras. In keeping with the winter theme, R.H. will narrate Vivaldi’s original text as we play the popular Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, myself on violin and enhanced by Rich Burrows on percussion. 

On Sunday, November 10th, 2pm at the AGH, we have the legendary Fine Arts Quartet on the 50th anniversary of their 1969 visit to this series. The members of this “Gold plated label of the chamber music world” (Washington Post) started together while playing with the Chicago Symphony in 1939. After military service in WWII, the quartet went full time in 1946. The Fine Arts Quartet has only had two first violinists across this entire timespan — Leonard Sorkin 1946-81, and Ralph Evans 1981-present. Violinist Efim Boico has been by Ralph’s side for his whole impressive period. The group has had a substantial impact, even popularizing composers like Bartók, Shostakovich, Bloch and Hindemith. American and French public television have documentaries about the quartet. International tours were sponsored by the US State Department. Their discography is enormous and their extensive list of critics picks, albums of the year and such decorations includes Gramophone’s “Recording of Legendary Status”. 

As this season marks another anniversary, the 250th of Beethoven’s birth, they will play the iconic composer’s remarkable first string quartet, the Op.18, No1. The abrupt, cataclysmic power in the second movement inspired much of Schubert’s great work. Then, with my help, the quartet performs Bruckner’s outlier, the F major quintet — a unique, appealing chamber work by the grand-scale German Romantic symphonist. Robert Simpson, 1992, calls it “one of the most idiosyncratic but deepest chamber works since Beethoven.”

L. v. Beethoven: String Quartet Opus 18, No.1
A. Bruckner: String Quintet in F major
with Michael Schulte

On Sunday, February 9th, 2pm at the AGH, we’ll hear the Pacifica Quartet, another iconic American group with a storied history of world tours, decorations, commissions, projects, discography, performances and recordings of numerous substantial quartet cycles. For the Beethoven year, they will play a composition from each of the great composer’s three periods with the final mid-period quartet Op.95 showing where he had come when he could still hear. Then they’ll play the exalted Op.130 from deep in the man’s imagination, and with the original Grand Fugue finale – no small offering.  This original final movement, later published separately as Op.133, didn’t end up published with the quartet because its statement was thought too overwhelming.

L. v. Beethoven: String Quartet in A major, Op.18, No.5

L.v. Beethoven: String Quartet in F minor, Op.95

L. v. Beethoven: String Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 130, with the Grand Fugue finale (Op. 133)

On March 8th, 2pm at the AGH, we’ll hear a fan favorite of ours, The New Orford String Quartet, which is always received by a big and excited audience when they visit us. Somehow, they find time while leading orchestras as Concertmasters of the Toronto and Montreal Symphonies, Principal Cellist of the Montreal Symphony and Principal Violist of the Detroit Symphony. The CBC concert recording of the Op.88 Brahms quintet I played with them can be heard at the bottom of the CMH homepage. This concert programme, well balanced across the history of the medium, has a discrete Russian connection from dedicatee to commissioner, to the modern Russian master’s epic and hair-raising statement on Soviet Socialist Realism.

J. Haydn: String Quartet Op.33, No.5

L. v. Beethoven: String Quartet Op.59, No.1

D. Shostakovich: String Quartet No.8

 

On Sunday, April 12th at 2pm at the AGH, we feature the Ying Quartet, the long-time resident quartet at the great Eastman School of Music in Rochester. They are a standout in music education and philanthropy initiatives and have brought over 200 new pieces of music to the world, many by future leaders in American composition. They play from Carnegie Hall to The White House to juvenile prisons. For us they will play compositions from two musical giants most directly affected by Beethoven. The impossibly precoscious Felix Mendelssohn studied Beethoven’s quartets extensively, and within months of Beethoven’s final quartet, wrote his own first on this wisdom – the Op.13. Beethoven’s contemporary, Franz Schubert, paid generous musical tribute to Beethoven and broke very special new ground.

F. Mendelssohn: String Quartet in A minor, Op.13

F. Schubert: String Quartet in G major, D.887

 

Chamber Music Hamilton

Hear a selection of the Chamber Music Hamilton Special Feature recorded in front of a live audience in February of 2017 at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.