Cellist Margaret Parkins
Violinist Sara Parkins (top) joins her twin sister, cellist Margaret Parkins (bottom), and pianist Delores Stevens on stage at the Old Whaling Church this weekend.

A Vineyard return

By Nis Kildegaard - March 23, 2006

When they were growing up, the Vineyard was an important stop each year for the Parkins twins, Maggie and Sara. On Saturday, March 25, they are returning - not for summer days at Lucy Vincent Beach and suppers at the Home Port, but for a concert program of the Martha's Vineyard Chamber Music Society at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown. The third member of the classical trio performing Saturday is pianist Delores Stevens, the artistic director of the Chamber Music Society.

"My dad was at school at MIT and Harvard," Maggie Parkins recalled in an interview from her home in Los Angeles, "and he discovered the Vineyard many years ago. We ended up in the Midwest, growing up in Detroit, but every August we would get in the car and drive two days to vacation on the Vineyard. We went to the summer day camps and concerts at the Chilmark Community Center."

But now as rising stars in the L.A. chamber music scene, it was inevitable that cellist Maggie and violinist Sara would connect with pianist Delores Stevens, who runs a concert series there when she's not on this coast as creative director of the Vineyard chamber society.

Maggie said it might be hard for Vineyarders to appreciate what a player Mrs. Stevens is in the musical world of Los Angeles: "I've been living in L.A. since 1997, and Sara since 1998, and Dee is very active in the chamber music scene here. It doesn't take very long for people to overlap.

"Dee is incredible - she's everywhere. I know that when Sara was in the Angeles Quartet, she played in their series, and Dee and I have played in a recital together. She's always hearing about new people in the area, calling them up and having them play with her."

One thing the Parkins sisters have in common with Ms. Stevens is a passion for contemporary music. Said Maggie, "Sara and I actually have a string quartet devoted to championing new work by living composers. She and I just premiered a new piano trio this week by an L.A. composer."

Indeed, one of the centerpieces of the March 25 concert is a piece by the contemporary composer Gernot Wolfgang entitled, intriguingly, "Jazz and Cocktails for Piano Trio." Said Maggie, "When Sara and I played this piece in November, people really liked it. It's very user-friendly."

Also on the concert program will be Mozart's Trio in B flat Major, K.502; a pair of pieces by Astor Piazolla entitled Oblivion and Primavera Portena, and Felix Mendelssohn's Trio in C minor, Op. 66.

With the Angeles Quartet, Sara recorded the complete Haydn String Quartets on Phillips Classics, and won a 2002 Grammy Award for the project. She is a member of the Eclipse Quartet and the Mojave Piano Trio. She is principal second violin of the Pasadena Symphony and works regularly in the recording studio for films and commercials.

Maggie has been professor of cello at the University of California at Irvine since 1997, and also enjoys a busy musical life as a performer. She has toured Europe, and has participated at the Sante Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Banff Centre, Festival Internacional de Musica de Cadaques, Heidelburg Castle Festival, Spoleto, Tanglewood, and the Bach Aria Festival.

Martha's Vineyard Chamber Music Society concert Saturday, March 25, 8 pm, Old Whaling Church, Main Street, Edgartown. Tickets $15; students and children are free.

Nis Kildegaard is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Edgartown.