Pics from the Beethoven “marathon”

“Beethoven takes everything out of you anyway, but to do all of that in one day … it’s a marathon,” she said. “It’s not only that we’re trying to play all the right notes at the right time, but we’re trying to convey all the (emotion) that Beethoven (intends), Beethoven takes your all. You play full out for several hours.”

Quoted by Cathalena Burch in the Arizona Daily Star, Sharon Robinson and Anita Pontremoli’s performance of essentially everything Beethoven ever wrote for piano and cello was everything one could imagine, and perhaps a little more.

At the beginning of the second concert, half way through the marathon, the stage lights wouldn’t go on due to some computer problems. So Sharon and Anita shared some questions and answers with the audience, a few hand signals with the control room, and a lot of fun.

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István Várdai Carnegie Hall concert

István Várdai will be playing for us on Sunday, April 10, 2016. Meanwhile he continues to impress.

Vardái performed at Carnegie Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra on December 18th.

While the critics for the New York Classical Review were not excessive in their praise of the Second Cello Concerto of Anton Rubinstein itself, they note that soloist István Vardái was “splendid”.

“He made his cello sing with refined, expressive tone.”
“Vardái was a pleasure to hear throughout, though, the experience of his playing was winning.”
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Grazyna Bacewicz Piano Quintet #2

Live Performance from Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival on March 120, 2015 at Leo Rich Theater performed by Bernadette Harvey, piano, Joseph Lin, violin, Axel Strauss, violin, Nokuthula Ngwenyama, viola, Clive Greensmith, cello.

Audio & video courtesy of Matthew Snyder, Allegro Recordings, Burbank, CA.

Video editing: Peter Rejto

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Dear Friends of AFCM,

As a teenager, I started learning about classical music through recordings and
the radio. Much of it was enthralling, but aside from the irresistible Schubert
piano trios, somehow I just couldn’t develop much interest in chamber music
simply by listening to records. Only when I started attending student and
faculty recitals at the University of Arizona did I begin to understand why
anybody should care – and care deeply – about chamber music. And when I
began attending AFCM concerts, I became a true believer.

The music didn’t change; all along, I recognized that it was carefully
crafted work for small ensembles, written by expert composers who were
communicating at a more person-to-person level than in their large-scale
orchestral works. What changed was the effect of that music when heard and
seen live. The intimacy and intensity of only three or four committed
musicians sitting just a few feet away conveyed greater passion, humor, joy,
and ingenuity than any recording.

For 68 years, the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music has brought the highest
level of small-ensemble music-making to Tucson, presenting the most
distinguished artists at the lowest possible admission price, so we can share
this music with anyone willing to arrive with open ears. We have entertained,
enlightened, and sometimes even provoked our audiences with old favorites
and brand-new commissions, expertly performed by musicians who make
chamber concerts not some arcane ritual but an essential, often thrilling part
of daily life.

As much as the musicians, you and I are a critical part of this chamber-music
life. Please join me in making it possible to share the music with each other
and with newcomers. Bring friends to concerts. Offer whatever financial
support you can, whether a modest donation or a full concert or commission
sponsorship. Most of all, keep your ears open. Your heart and mind will follow.



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AFCM Welcomes New President

Arizona Friends of Chamber Music is very pleased to announce that James Reel has been elected president of the AFCM Board of Directors.

james-reel-617x347James Reel is Arizona Public Media’s classical music director, and the weekday morning announcer for KUAT-FM, where he also blogs about the arts. He also serves as executive director of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra. In print, he has been a contributing editor to Strings magazine, and appears in the online All Classical Guide, among other venues. He has also covered border issues for, the National Catholic Reporter and Sojourners, and frequently gives pre-performance talks for various arts organizations.

For most of the first decade of this century, he was the Tucson Weekly’s arts editor and theater critic, before which he also served as the Weekly’s general editor. At the Arizona Daily Star, he was the arts and entertainment editor from 1995 to 1999; previously, he was that newspaper’s classical music critic. Before that, he toiled at KUAT radio from 1976 to 1988, ending up as music director. He is the author of the guidebook CitySmart: Tucson, blessedly out of print, and The Timid Soul’s Guide to Classical Music, which has recently been reissued as an e-book.

He currently serves on the board of the Tucson Desert Song Festival. During the past 15 years, he has also been a member of the boards of the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music (vice-president), Winding Road Theater Ensemble (president) and Chamber Music Plus (president).

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