AMC attended the Sheldon Friends of Chamber Music program of The American Chamber Players at the Sheldon Art Gallery in Lincoln, NE. Go here for more information about this wonderful group: http://www.sfcm.info/artists/american-chamber-players/. Miles Hoffman, the violist of the group, gave a pre-concert lecture that focused mostly on the issue of taste and how it is difficult to dispute someone's taste, even though one might disagree with it. AMC takes the point and will revel in taste-related statement in the future. During the Q & A segment, AMC asked Mr. Hoffman for his views on the current state of classical music in America. After obtaining clarification about the question, Mr. Hoffman said that he thinks that there are more people listening to classical music than ever before because of the internet. He cited YouTube in particular as a great resource for classical pieces. (AMC also likes to access music via YouTube but AMC's favorite is radioio.com classical. ) Mr. Hoffman went on to say that we should be less concerned about attracting 20-somethings to concert halls, but rather 40-50 year olds who have more disposable wealth and greater attention spans. AMC is dubious. AMC believes that the earlier we can snag people's "taste" toward classical music, the better off we will be. Many twenty-somethings have disposable income but chose to dispose it elsewhere than at symphony halls across the US. Management of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra recently announced a series of Friday concerts that will begin at 6:00 pm and last for about an hour and a half. This seems to make it easier for people working around Symphony Hall to stay after work, take in a concert, and then dine afterward. AMC thinks that taking this a step further would be good. The first is to have these Friday concerts be casual nights and advertised as such. A wine and cheese event before concert would also be attractive. Finally, a "Pop Up" video format should be explored. Given the projector systems in most symphony halls, it is possible to have a constant information feed about a piece in pop-up format, e.g., here is the main theme, here is the development, a crescendo, etc. This would help take some of the stodginess, either real or perceived, out of the concert hall. It might also help with the attention span issue- if indeed there is one.
The first piece was the Mozart Quartet for flute and Strings, K. 298. This is one of those pieces of Mozart that AMC really dislikes. It is predictable and trite and repetitive. By the way, there was an interesting discussion on the website "Slipped Disk" about people's feelings about Mozart's music. Guess where AMC came down on it? The American Chamber Players played the music perfectly, however. AMC has not heard a chamber ensemble lately that has the wonderful balance that this group has. AMC is used to hearing groups where the first violin dominates, and the viola wimps along in the background. No so here. So AMC didn't like the music, but sure liked how it was played.
The Bloch Concertino for flute, viola, and piano was again beautifully played and is very handsome music. The final music morphs from a fugue-like introduction to a polka-like finale. The Schoenfield Three Bagatelles for flute, cello, and piano, written toward the end of 2006, is very accessible recent music that is melodic, but not out of touch with contemporary classical music. Click here for the American Chamber Players performing the third movement of this work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZtFGUtKwLA
The final piece was the Brahms Quartet in A Major for piano and strings, Op. 26. This is sublime music. AMC's taste suggests that this some some of the greatest romantic music ever written. It is beautiful, warm, rhythmically intense, and with great structure. It is also quite symphonic- it is not a leap to suggest that it could easy be re-orchestrated for a full orchestra, sort of becoming Brahms Fifth Symphony. It is a long piece that is over way too quickly. Click here to enjoy the luminous allegro non troppo first movement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xk3N0Ul08KA. The American Chamber Players performed this music so passionately and they never lost sight of each other while playing. Again their balance was impeccable. They are four very strong players who never lose sight of the fact that they are indeed a quartet.
This was a grand concert.
Thanks to the musicians, benefactors, patrons, and volunteers that made this concert possible.