Chamber Music Month comes to Edgartown next weekend

Delores Stevens performs with Maksim-Velichkin in 2015.

Chamber Music America has designated May as National Chamber Music Month, and organizations across the country are hosting performances and festivals to honor the celebration. Here on Island, our own Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society (MVCMS) is once again honoring the tradition with its annual spring concert, which will kick off a full season of performance featuring world-class musicians.

The spring concert will be a reunion of sorts for the Mantagnana trio, the original group that launched the MVCMS years ago and consists of pianist Delores Stevens, cellist Jan Muller-Suzerains, and clarinet player Kelli O’Connor. “For the 400th anniversary of Tisbury, we came from the West Coast as a trio and played,” Ms. Stevens, who is also the artistic director of MVCMS, said. “We realized that there wasn’t a concert series on the Island, so we started one.” That was in 1970. The Chamber Music Society, under Ms. Stevens’ leadership, has been going strong ever since.

“The cellist Jan Muller-Suzerains is just fabulous,” she said. “He’s from Chile but living in Boston. Kelli O’Connor is a really terrific clarinet player.”

The concert will feature work by Beethoven and Brahms, as well as pieces by two acclaimed 20th century composers: Manuel de Falla of Spain and France’s Darius Milhaud. “This program is very near and dear to me,” Ms. Stevens said. “The trios are Brahms and Beethoven. We played those many times, and recorded both. They are the most famous pieces in the repertoire for that combination — piano, cello, and clarinet.”

For 46 years, the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society has been dedicated to presenting world-class concerts featuring the classics, as well as innovative arrangements of contemporary music and new compositions. The four-decade-old organization also supports classical music learning opportunities through scholarships, free student admission to concerts, and donations of musical instruments to our schools.

The annual spring concert is a tradition that is scheduled as part of a nationwide initiative to raise public awareness of the many styles of small-ensemble music performed and presented today. Ms. Stevens always makes the effort to mix up the programs for each concert, to include both familiar chamber music pieces and cutting-edge compositions and arrangements.

In July, the MVCMS will commence a five-concert summer season featuring diverse programming which will incorporate some surprising new arrangements, such as a Michael Jackson medley, and a piece based on Gershwin’s most famous jazz composition, titled “Rhapsody in Bluegrass.” Another program will feature the Island’s own Jonas Budris, a young tenor who has already made a name for himself on Boston’s concert and opera stages. He will perform along with established soprano Jayne West.

The series will also feature award-winning ensembles and musicians from all over the country in a variety of programs. “I always try to do a diverse season,” Ms. Stevens said. “This year I think I succeeded beyond belief.”

Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society’s Annual Spring Concert: Sunday, May 29 at 4pm at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown. Tickets may be purchased in advance online or at the door (cash or check only). $20 for adults; students free.