“Wonderful pieces”: The American Chamber Players perform Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart and Schumann

In the Oct. 19, 2011 issue, Xpress announced the 59th season of the Asheville Chamber Music Series. The 2011-2012 season includes several programs of piano-based works, a somewhat novel aspect to the series, which typically focuses on strings. “There’s a conscious effort within the organization to present a more varied program in terms of wind instruments in combination with strings and piano,” ACMS President Richard Wrightson told Xpress in October. “That certainly shows through in the program this year.”

The Oct. 21 performance by The Kavafian-Schub-Shifrin Trio included works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (“Kegelstadt (clarinet) Trio”), Béla Bartók (“Contrasts for Violin, Clarinet and Piano”) and Igor Stravinsky (Suite from “L’Histoire du Soldat”). The music series, which hosts its concerts at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville, does not have its own concert-grade piano, although Wrightson and ACMS hope that will change this year. (The organization is in the midst of a fundraiser to purchase what Wrightson called “a very good used Steinway piano.”) In the meantime, ACMS has been using a borrowed Steinway for this season’s performances.

On Friday, Jan. 13, The American Chamber players visit Asheville. Xpress spoke with Miles Hoffman, the founder and artistic director of the ensemble. “This is at least the third time we’ve played in the Asheville Series,” he says. Hoffman lives in nearby Spartunburg, S.C., where he hosts a daily segment called “A Minute with Miles” on South Carolina ETV, the public broadcasting organization for the area. Hoffman is also a longtime classical music commentator for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.”

The ensemble includes Hoffman, on viola; Stephen Balderston, cello; Joanna Maurer, violin; Sara Stern, flute; and Anna Stoytcheva, piano. “We come together and tour all over the country, but we don’t all live in the same place,” Hoffman says. “I’m in Spartunburg. Our cellist is in Chicago; the violinist and pianist are in New York; and our flutist is in Washington. But we’ve been playing together for many years.”

Stoytcheva is currently on maternity leave, but acclaimed pianist Reiko Uchida will perform as a guest musician. “She’s a guest who’s played with us many, many times,” Hoffman says of Uchida.

The Jan. 13 performance includes: Mozart, Quartet for Flute and Strings, D Major, K. 285; Beethoven, Quartet for Piano and Strings, Op. 16, E-flat Major; Robert Schumann, Three Romances for Flute and Piano, Op. 94; and Brahms, Quartet for Piano and Strings, Op. 25, G Minor. “It sounds like a cliche, but we love them all,” Hoffman says. “We’re most excited about whichever piece we happen to be playing. We really are crazy about all the pieces on this program. They are wonderful pieces.”

All performances begin at 8 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville, located at 1 Edwin Place at Charlotte Street. Individual tickets are $35. Season tickets are available for $135.00 each. To purchase season tickets see us at http://www.ashevillechambermusic.org or call Pam Miller at (828) 259-3626. ACMS concerts are free for students.


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