This Sunday afternoon, May 25, the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society (MVCMS) kicks off its 44th season with a couple of distinguished visiting artists presenting a mixed bag of classical and more contemporary compositions.
The annual spring concert will provide a prelude to the organization’s upcoming season and is an opportunity to get a taste of some of the stellar, internationally recognized talent that MVCMS recruits every year for their summer long festival. At a special discounted price of $20, the pre-season concert is a gift to the Island, according to board president David Rhoderick.
For the upcoming concert at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center, acclaimed pianist and MVCMS artistic director Delores Stevens will be joined by her son, the accomplished French hornist Paul Stevens, and oboist Gerard Reuter. Mr. Reuter has enjoyed a distinguished solo career throughout four continents, has appeared with orchestras throughout the U.S., and has participated as a featured guest artist at many prestigious summer festivals. “His technique is just prodigious,” Ms. Stevens said.
“I dare say no one has heard any of the music,” she continued. “It’s all going to be music for oboe, french horn, and piano — a rather unique combination. The French horn and oboe are two of the most difficult instruments to play. They’re the big soloists in an orchestra. The horn is so mellow. The oboe is so virtuosic and soulful.”
The spring concert program includes work by an international lineup of composers with a leaning towards romantic music. As Ms. Stevens described the work, “Saint-Saëns is romantic French, Reinecke is German romantic, and Paul is playing an American romantic piece for the horn and piano — ‘Basler’s Canciones.’ We wanted to welcome spring and summer with just beautiful sound.”
The program concludes with a piece by Margaret Bonds, a 20th-century American pianist and composer. “She is one of the few black women composers to have risen to this level of popularity,” Ms. Stevens said. “I’ll be playing a solo piano piece called ‘Troubled Water,’ which is based on a negro spiritual.
“I think of this concert as a prelude to the big summer festival. We’ve got the really top-of-the-line musicians coming this year,” she said. The summer season starts off with a pair of concerts with the Los Angeles based Calder Quartet, a group that Ms. Stevens is particularly excited to be hosting. “They just got the Avery Fisher Award for outstanding string quartet,” said the artistic director. The program includes work by Mozart, Schubert, and 19th century Czech composer Leoš Janáček. “They’re just fantastic,” said Ms. Stevens of the quartet, which will perform on the Vineyard for the first time. “They do everything — the standard string quartet repertoire and modern music.”
For the second set of summer concerts, the Quartet San Francisco returns to the Vineyard for a program that includes both classical and jazz. An all-Beethoven program will be presented in August featuring two musicians whom Ms. Stevens has recruited a number of times — Timothy Fain and William DeRosa. Mr. Fain was featured as the violinist for the movie “Black Swan.” Mr. DeRosa is one of the leading American cellists of his generation.
New York State’s Music from Salem quartet will be featured in two shows in August. That group, along with Ms. Stevens, will premiere a new work by Boston based composer, Thomas Oboe Lee. World premieres have a been a part of many MVCMS festivals.
The final concerts of the season features cellist Jay Campbell and flutist Carol Wincenc. Of the latter, Ms. Stevens said, “She’s probably America’s foremost flute player. She plays all over the world. She’s coming with a new young cellist who has never been to the Vineyard before.”
As always, the summer festival features works both recognizable and those that will be new to many audience members. However, Ms. Stevens noted that there will not be anything approaching the avant garde or overly experimental.
“This season we’re keeping it within the boundaries of styles that will be appreciated by a broad range of audiences,” she concluded. “This will all be music that people will recognize as entertaining and beautiful. We’re not doing any electronic music or anything all that cutting edge. But stay tuned, maybe in the future we’ll have more far out music.”
Music: Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society Spring Concert, Sunday, May 25, 4 pm, M.V. Hebrew Center, Vineyard Haven. $20. For more information, call 508-696-8055 or visit mvcms.org.