U.Va. Music Department Hosts Two Weekends of Chamber Music

January 23, 2012

January 23, 2011 — The University of Virginia Chamber Music Festival will feature music faculty performing timeless pieces over the next two weekends, according to event organizers.

The festival, hosted by the McIntire Department of Music in the College of Arts & Sciences, begins Friday in Old Cabell Hall with a performance by the Rivanna String Quartet.

In the past, faculty recitals were spread out in four concerts throughout the year, said festival director Ayn Balija, a violist who is part of the music department's performance faculty. This year, organizers moved to a new format that allows them to package the performances together.

"We thought, Charlottesville loves festivals, right?'" Balija said. "We've been rehearsing since last semester, and we're going to have four condensed concerts of chamber music offerings. The faculty takes a lot of care in developing a program that will work well for our musical partners and that the audience will enjoy, and we're excited to present it."

Tickets are $20 for adults and are available through the U.Va. Box Office. They are $10 for students and free for children under 18. Email tickets@email.virginia.edu for more information.

The Rivanna String Quartet consists of Ayn Balija, violinists Daniel Sender and David Sariti, and cellist Adam Carter. The performance Friday at 8 p.m. will feature works by Ludwig von Beethoven, Benjamin Britten and Antonin Dvorak.

"This is really the quintessential chamber music experience for someone to go to," Balija said. "It's also probably the most diverse and musically accessible."

Beethoven 's patron, Count Rasumovsky, commissioned him to compose three quartets. Beethoven added a decidedly Russian theme to the second one based on a folk song. 

The Britten piece is a one-movement work that has all the members of the quintet playing interwoven melodic lines.

"Nineteen-year-old Britten actually wrote it for a competition in school, and won," Balija said. "It's quite challenging."

The Dvorak piano quintet is a 40-minute piece that is well known and loved, unique because it includes a full string quartet and piano, she said. Dvorak composes in the style of Bohemian folk song and dance. It concludes with a polka. 

On Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in Old Cabell Hall, performance faculty members Nathan Dishman on trombone and Susan Fritts on horn will present a brass recital.
“To increase repertoire, brass and woodwind composers and instrumentalists often arrange well-known works.  I'm excited to hear their take on everything from Hoagy Carmichael to 'Londonderry Air,'" Balija said.

On Feb. 3 at 8 p.m., the Albemarle Ensemble will present compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach, Samuel Barber and Paul Taffanel. The group includes Kelly Sulick on flute, Aaron Hill on oboe, Rob Patterson on clarinet, Susan Fritts on horn and bassoonist Elizabeth Roberts.

"The Albemarle Ensemble performs probably the most popular of the quintets you can enjoy, and are really accessible to everybody," Balija said.

The final performance will be a violin and flute faculty recital on Feb. 5 at 3:30 p.m. It will include works by Robert Schumann and Judith Shatin, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Music, performed by David Sariti on violin and Kelly Sulick on flute.

"Lately we've been performing works to celebrate Judith's time at U.Va. She's a wonderful composer and it is wonderful to collaborate with the actual composer,”  Balija said.

— By Rob Seal