Bizet, Barber, Broadway at Thanksgiving


This year’s annual Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society (MVCMS) Thanksgiving Concert will offer a multiple-course menu when musicians take the stage at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown on Saturday, Nov. 27, at 7:30 pm.

As befits the beginning of the holiday season, the MVCMS Thanksgiving concert will cover a festive range of composers and genres, from exuberant comic opera to soulful German lieder, from romantic sonatas and love songs to boisterous Broadway show tunes. The program lists 19 numbers by 13 composers and lyricists — more, if there be encores.

Featured virtuosi are Thomas Jones, baritone; Scott Woolweaver, viola; and MVCMS artistic director Delores Stevens, piano.

To start blood pumping, Thomas Jones will sing the rousing, boastful “Toreador Song” from Bizet’s “Carmen,” followed by Mendelssohn’s “It is Enough” from “Elijah,” and seven lieder from Robert Schumann’s “Dichterleibe.” The lush Sonata for viola and piano by Rebecca Clarke shifts the mood from voice to viola, one of two pieces on the program by this early 20th century composer.

Thomas Jones, a baritone, may be familiar to Boston concert-goers, as he has sung with the Handel & Haydn Society, the Boston Lyric Opera, the Boston Civic Orchestra, the Back Bay Chorale, and The Masterworks Chorale. Director of Music at the Old Cambridge Baptist Church since 2002, he has taught voice at Harvard University for the past 19 years and has served as vocal coach for Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals for 10 years.

Most of Mr. Jones’ professional appearances occur far from Boston, including solo performances with The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, New York’s St. Cecilia Orchestra, the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, and The Vancouver Chamber Choir. On summer stock theater stages he has sung the melodies of George Gershwin and Steven Sondheim. And, in further demonstration of his versatility, he was a semifinalist in the International Bel Canto Foundation Vocal Competition and in the New York Oratorio Competition. New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini has written that Mr. Jones sings “with plush sounds and musical vigor.”

Violist Scott Woolweaver is known not only in Boston but the Vineyard where he performs most summers with the MVCMS. A resident of the Back Bay, he plays frequently with the Boston Baroque, the Handel & Haydn Society, the New England Conservatory’s Chamber Music East, and the First Monday Series at Jordan Hall. He is an artist associate at Williams College, and a lecturer in viola and chamber music at Tufts University.

This past August he played, with pianist Delores Stevens, Robert Schumann’s “Marchenbilder (Fairy Tale Pictures)” for viola and piano, opus 65, during the Society’s fourth Summer Festival concert. With the musical group The Chameleons he performed the music of Ned Rorem, Barbara Kolb, and Mario Davidofsky as part of the Boston GuitarFest 2010 at Jordan Hall last spring. The Boston Globe’s critic Mattew Geurrieri has written that in his playing of such pieces, Mr. Woolweaver “smoothly varnished their dark sound for a melancholy series of variations.”

Pianist Delores Stevens is a founding member of the MVCMS, originally named the Chilmark Chamber Players, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. She also co-founded Chamber Music Palisades in California, now in its 14th season. Recognized as a leading piano soloist and chamber musician throughout the U.S., she has recorded performances on more than 15 classical labels.

Also on the November 27 program will be “Largo al factotum” from “The Barber of Seville” by Gioacchino Rossini, two songs, sung in French, by German-American composer Charles Martin Leoffler, two songs by Samuel Barber, and selections from three Broadway musicals: “South Pacific,” “Camelot,” and “Wicked,” sung by Mr. Jones and accompanied by Ms. Stevens.

Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society Thanksgiving Concert, Saturday, Nov. 27, 7:30 pm, Old Whaling Church, Edgartown. $15; free for students. 508-696-8055.

Tisbury resident Nora Nevin is on the board of the MVCMS and a retired non-fiction writing instructor at the University of New Hampshire.