Asheville’s rock, country, alt-country, pop, indie, world, fusion, funk, dance, etc. bands number in the hundred. Which is great. There’s never an issue of “there’s nothing to see tonight!” Rather, the conundrum is “there are 8 hours between the end of the work day and last call at the clubs; how many bands can I see in that time?”
But when it comes to classical music in Asheville, while there are some excellent groups, their names rarely appear on club marquees of the zillions of flyers papering Lexington Ave. Sure, symphony goers know when concerts take place, but what if you want to catch a chamber trio or some mid-day madrigals? Here are some not-to-missed classical groups and music opportunities:
1. Professional classical outfit The Opal String Quartet (below) says this of itself: “Known for its fiery intensity and polished precision, the OSQ is dedicated to bringing the art of chamber music to diverse audiences by performing in a wide variety of venues, from schools and art galleries to street corners and concert halls.” The foursome — who met as students at the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., includes member of Sirius.B and the Asheville Symphony. Catch the group at:
• Montreat College’s Chapel of the Prodigal on Sunday, Jan. 31, 4 p.m. (The program includes Schumann, Britten and Brahms; click here for info.)
• OSQ performs Philip Glass’s 5th String Quartet at the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble Series at Western Carolina University’s Coulter Recital Hall. Thursday, Feb. 18, 8 p.m.
• OSQ performs as part of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville’s MUUsic in the Afternoon series. (The program includes Mozart and Ravel.) Sunday, March 7, 4 p.m.
2. The UNC-Asheville Department of Music holds low-cost concerts at Lipinsky Auditorium. The events are open to the community. Upcoming installments include:
• Jazz Band & Studio 18 Vocal Jazz Ensemble on Sunday, Feb. 21, 4 p.m. • Wind Ensemble on Sunday, Feb. 28, 4 p.m.
• Jazz Combos on Thursday, Mar. 4, 7:30 p.m.
• Flute Choir, String Quartet, Brass Quintet and Classical Guitar Ensemble on Sunday, Mar. 21, 4 p.m.
3. Classic and modern jazz group The Jason DeCristofaro Trio (below; DeCristofaro plays vibraphone, marimba, timpani, drumset, orchestral percussion, auxiliary percussion and xylophone) performs classical and jazz compositions. DeCristofaro is a timpanist with the Brevard Philharmonic, a timpanist and percussionist with the Carolina Concert Choir and a percussionist with the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra. His trio (see below for specific players) performs in both concert halls and clubs. Upcoming dates include:
• DeCristofaro plays vibraphones with a 30 piece jazz/swing ensemble directed by Russ Wilson in tribute to the Music of Paul Whiteman at UNC-Asheville. Friday, Feb. 5, 8 p.m.
• The trio (including with bassist Mike Holstein and drummer Jeff Lott) performs at Barley’s on Sunday, Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m.
4. First Presbyterian Church of Asheville holds Mid-Day Music on various Wednesdays. Check the church’s calendar for information. The next listed Mid-Day Music event is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 24, 12:15-12:45 p.m. in the sanctuary.
5. Pianist Brian Turner (below) has been a staple in Asheville for years, yet manages to fly under the radar. His solo programs range from pop to classical, and he composes original material, as well. On a 1920’s Fischer baby grand piano. Turner keeps a full schedule; see him soonest at:
• Highland Farm in Black Mountain on Sunday, Jan. 31, 3:30 p.m.
6. The First Baptist Church of Asheville also hosts concerts. Check here for ongoing events; attend Holy Week Mini-Concerts in Crouch Chapel at noon each day from Monday, Mar. 29 through Friday, Apr. 2.
—Alli Marshall, A&E reporter