An early gift from the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society

The Vineyard Chamber Music Society plays Saturday evening at the Whaling Church in Edgartown. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

It’s become a Thanksgiving tradition for many Vineyarders. Once again The Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society (MVCMS) will host a concert at the Old Whaling Church on the Saturday after the holiday, with virtuoso musicians imported from around the country and one of the composers on hand. “We do this sort of special concert for the year-round Islanders,” said MVCMS board president David Rhoderick. “It’s sort of our gift back to the community. It’s an important thing we think we should do.”

And what a treat for Vineyard audiences. The four-piece ensemble is made up of musicians who have all played for summer Island audiences before. Violinist Stephanie Chase is internationally recognized as “One of the violin greats of our era,” (Newhouse Newspapers) whose award-winning performances at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow led to concert and solo performances throughout the world including with the New York Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra, among many others.

Ms. Chase’s recording of the Beethoven Violin Concerto (Call Records) was hailed as “one of the 20 most outstanding performances of the work’s recorded history,” and she was among very few musicians who were invited to play for the rescue and recovery workers following the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.

A frequent performer with MVCMS, violinist Scott Woolweaver has premiered many new works, including pieces written especially for him. Since 1980 he has been a member of Alea III, a contemporary music ensemble in residence at Boston University.

Cellist Scott Kluksdahl has been described by Strings Magazine as, “a simply superb cellist, playing with consummate technical ease, a beautiful sound, total conviction, authority and dedication to the music.” Mr. Kluksdahl has appeared as an orchestral soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Israel.

MVCMS co-founder and artistic director Delores Stevens will, as always, accompany the musicians on piano in a program that includes duets, trios, one solo, and one ensemble piece. Ms. Stevens is an acclaimed soloist and chamber musician who performs throughout the United States and beyond, traveling frequently from her winter home in California. Earlier this year Ms. Stevens received the Living the Legacy Award from the Young Musicians Foundation at an event honoring composer John Williams at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. She has also been honored with an award from the National Association of Composers for her “achievements as one of the most important artists to further the cause and influence of contemporary music.”

This mission is in evidence in the program for the upcoming concert, which includes three works by classic composers and two pieces by living composers, one of whom — David Frazin — will be in attendance. The evening opens with a bright and energetic Mozart piano trio and finishes with a more solemn, highly emotional work by Brahms performed by the entire ensemble.

In between, the audience will be treated to two new compositions written especially for two of the players, Mr. Woolweaver and Mr. Kluksdahl, and the remaining piece of the evening will be from 19th century composer Carl Maria von Weber, one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school.

Said MVCMS executive director Jane Coakley, “Dee Stevens’s program of music is another great mix of classic and contemporary composers, reflecting that both she and violist Scott Woolweaver are champions of the music of our time. We are thrilled that composer Howard Frazin, who has written his new piece ‘Elegy for Steven’ for Scott Woolweaver, is planning to attend the concert and will say a few words about his new composition.”

Saturday’s concert be a well-rounded evening of music, which offers a great chance for those who have never attended any of the 44-year-old group’s concerts before. The performance, with a lower price of $20, is largely subsidized by MVCMS to give locals an opportunity to enjoy a range of music performed by world-class musicians. MVCMS does a number of things for the community, including providing loaner instruments for grade schoolers and scholarships for graduating seniors.

As an added bonus, the concert will take place at the majestic hall of the Old Whaling Church with its excellent acoustics and impressive surroundings. “Having a nice ambience is important,” Mr. Rhoderick said. “People don’t just look at the players. They look around at the hall and the Whaling Church really brings you back in time. That’s what’s lacking in listening to a CD or on an iPod. You get the visual enjoyment as well as the aural. The new murals really enhance the visual experience.”

What better way to kick off the Island holiday season than listening to memorable music in a uniquely Vineyard setting?

Music: M.V. Chamber Music Society and guests, 7:30 pm, Saturday, Nov. 30, Old Whaling Church, Edgartown. $20; free for students. For more information, call 508-696-8055 or visit