Chamber Music Tulsa Celebrates 65th Season
By NANCY HERMANN
GTR Variety Editor
Chamber Music Tulsa marks a 65th anniversary, opening its 2018-19 season this month at the Tulsa . Known formerly as Concertime, Chamber Music Tulsa presents a stellar lineup of the world’s foremost chamber music ensembles each season. The organization also is recognized for its community outreach, bringing chamber music to schools and nonprofits, staging pop-up concerts at unlikely places, and facilitating discussions about music and related history.
Executive Director Bruce Sorrell joined the organization in 2012, coming to Tulsa after more than three decades as conductor, music director and executive director of the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra. “This is one of our most diverse seasons ever,” explains Sorrell. “We made a concentrated effort to include more women and people of color among the composers represented and the artists on stage. It will be more of a kaleidoscope, full of multitudes of interesting aural colors.’”
Opening the regular season at the , members of Montrose Trio will be familiar to Tulsa audiences. Pianist John Kimura Parker played with the Tulsa Symphony last year, and Martin Beaver and Clive Greensmith have performed for as part of the celebrated Tokyo String Quartet. “They are schooled in the highest traditions of the chamber music field, but they are definitely not stuffy,” says Sorrell of the trio. “They exude excitement in performance that is almost unrivalled.” Montrose’s Salon Series performance on Sept. 22 is sold out, but you can enjoy these consummate musicians at the on Sept. 23.
The Tesla Quartet first appeared on ’s radar as mentorees of the renowned Takács Quartet. Tesla performed during ’s 2012-13 season and was hired to do a full week of residency activities before their concerts. That experience proved so fruitful that now secures one ensemble for a residency during alternating seasons. Tesla initiates ’s new Gallery Series with a concert at the Renaissance Square Event Center on Friday night, Oct. 12. Tickets also are available for their Oct. 14 performance at the . Sorrell shares that Tesla’s Sunday program is going to be “a blockbuster of music mostly composed in the last 20 years.” In addition, they will perform the lush final quartet by South America’s most famous composer, Brazil’s Heitor Villa-Lobos.
“There is a handful of great American string quartets, and the Brentano is certainly in that select company,” enthuses Sorrell. The Brentano Quartet will play a concert at 108 Contemporary on Nov. 9 and perform two concerts at the , Nov. 10 (sold out), and Nov. 11. “What makes this group special is the keen intellectual approach that underpins their music-making,” adds Sorrell. As a bonus, guest violist Hsin-Yun Huang joins the Brentano for performances of quintets by Brahms, Mozart and Mendelssohn.
The Kenari Saxophone Quartet will conduct a variety of events across Tulsa, Jan. 22-28, 2019. Tulsa Public Schools, Tulsa Girls Art School, Circle Cinema, Catholic Charities and the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges are included in the outreach. “We have watched over the past decade as saxophone quartets have become mainstream in the industry,” says Sorrell. “It is time for us to introduce this unique and important kind of ensemble to our audiences. I know they will make a impression!” Their Sunday afternoon program at the is slated for Jan. 27.
Sorrell believes that the Gryphon Trio (Mar. 3 at the ) is another group that is exploring what it means to play chamber music. Among the selections the trio will perform is a work by 20th-century composer Rebecca Clarke, whom Sorrell holds in high esteem. “Her compositional output is just now receiving the kind of attention it deserves,” he says. “In addition to the standard repertoire, Gryphon offers a couple of cabaret programs, one of which we are bringing to Tulsa this time ? ‘Moonshine Ballads and Various Charms’ ? what a great title!” The March 1 cabaret concert with Patricia O’Callaghan will be held at the Renaissance Square Event Center. O’Callaghan won over the audience in 2012 with her “Broken Hearts and Madmen” cabaret performance.
When the American Carpe Diem String Quartet comes calling, April 26-28, they will perform their signature piece, the “Fiddle Suite Montana,” written by their violist, Korine Fujiwara. “It is a joyous reminder of the interconnectedness of us all and the music we make to celebrate our lives,” says Sorrell. “We were so convinced that our audiences would love it that we requested it for both the Friday and Sunday concerts. I am looking forward to the entire weekend.”
’s popular Salon Series takes place on Saturday nights and includes mingling and wine, followed by a mini-concert, dinner, and time spent with the musicians. For several years running, it has sold out before the season opens. That demand led to fashion an informal Friday evening Gallery Series, with wine and hors d’ oeuvres served before the concert begins. “We are looking forward to hearing from subscribers what they think of this new series,” notes Sorrell.
Series subscriptions, group sales for 10 or more, detailed information and tickets to individual concerts are available by calling the Chamber Music Tulsa office and through the ticket office.
’We have very carefully crafted the season with our audience in mind,” assures Sorrell. “I know that together we will find this a transformative journey as we listen to these great musicians engage us with the power of this music performed live.”