The Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society is ticking off several firsts this season. Saturday, Nov. 20, will mark the first time the concert will be performed by the Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra instead of the society, and it will be at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center. Typically the society performs at the Whaling Church, Chilmark Community Center, and some of the libraries.
David Rhoderick, vice president of the society, says, “We’re very excited to have the concert by the Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra, because we’re trying to forge more partnerships with local music organizations. This is the first time we are doing something with a group from Cape Cod, who are coming over on the ferry and turning around and going back that same day. It should be fun.”
Rhoderick explains that chamber music in orchestra is new for the group. “We have never had an orchestra perform instead of us. In fact, chamber music is not typically regarded as orchestral music, but this is a chamber orchestra based in Cape Cod.” The Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra consists of 12 musicians and a conductor, presenting an exciting classical and contemporary program of “Romanian Folk Dances” by Béla Bartók, “Concerto Grosso, Op. 6: No. 4 in A Minor” by George Frederic Handel, “Serenade for Strings” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and “Entr’acte” by Caroline Shaw, a young American Pulitzer prizewinning composer currently based in New York City and Western Massachusetts.
The Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society’s website tells us that Shaw’s music is original, yet easy to listen to, and spans classical to pop — it has been performed several times with Kanye West. Shaw writes, “‘Entr’acte,’ was written in 2011 after hearing the Brentano Quartet play Haydn’s ‘Op. 77, No. 2’ — with its spare and soulful shift to the D-flat major trio in the minuet. It is structured like a minuet and trio, riffing on that classical form but taking it a little further. I love the way some music (like the minuets of ‘Op. 77’) suddenly takes you to the other side of Alice’s looking glass, in a kind of absurd, subtle, Technicolor transition.”
The Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra’s focus is on Cape collaborations with artists and art centers, and they have performed dozens of concerts, and commissioned and premiered works from participants in their young composer residency. Founder and director Matthew Scinto brings with him an extensive background in conducting. A recent review in Boston Music Intelligencer applauded his style: “Without a baton, and using economical gestures to indicate phrasing and direction, Scinto’s conducting was refreshing and exuberant.”
“Matt is a very enthusiastic and energetic conductor,” Rhoderick says. “They are doing the program elsewhere on the Cape, and we said, Well, why don’t we do it on the Vineyard as well?”
The concert helps Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society fulfill its mission “to produce world-class chamber music concerts, promote and support classical educational opportunities, especially for our local schools, and create awareness of the value and significance of fine classical and contemporary music on the Island.”
In addition to its Thanksgiving concert, the Chamber Music Society performs the Summer Evening Concerts, and its education programs, including instrument loans, lesson scholarships, and artist-in-residence, all depend on generous donors and grant funders.
Even though the society is not playing itself, it is excited to have the orchestra perform at the PAC. “It’s got a great stage, great acoustics, so we have our fingers crossed, but we think it’s going to be a very interesting program and concert,” Rhoderick says. Another first this year is that tickets for seniors will be at a discount. And, as always, children and students can attend for free.
“This is our thank-you for everything our sponsors and donors have done,” Rhoderick says. “We do a Thanksgiving concert every year, except for last year. It’s part of our annual tradition, and we want people to come along to something that is very new and exciting, especially as there are young people who will be performing from Cape Cod. We were founded in 1971, so we’re in our 50th year, but very much focused on youth and the future.”
Tickets are available through Nov. 19 at mvcms.org and at the door. Tickets are $30 for adults, and $25 for senior citizens. The performance begins at 4 pm, but the audience is welcome for a 3:15 pre-concert talk. Masks are required indoors.