“The French Connection” celebrates classical French composers, support hunger initiative on Feb. 3

Image courtesy of event promoters

From event organizers:

The French Connection
Hendersonville Musicians Perform French Music to Fund Hunger Agency

To fight hunger in Henderson County, NC, local pianist Christopher Tavernier and flutist Matthew Hanna will perform French classical music at Flat Rock Playhouse’s Hendersonville venue Saturday, Feb. 3, at 2 p.m.

This annual benefit concert is part of Music Foundation of Western North Carolina’s Masterwork Series and is sponsored by Agudas Israel Congregation. This program will support Henderson County Hunger Coalition, a nonprofit and faith-based relief agency. The event sponsor is Skyland Auto Group of Asheville.

 “The French Connection” concert will include several solos and duets, including well known works by Claude Debussy, Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, Francis Poulenc, André Messager, and Jérôme Naulais. This is a musical survey of the brilliance and range of French composers and other renowned composers who lived and worked in France. The great works by these celebrated composers during this period were the cradle of modern music!

 “As a new nonprofit agency with a mission to promote local music, Music Foundation of Western North Carolina is looking for ways to build community by doing good work such as this,” the Foundation’s founder and CEO Joann Freeburg said. “Christopher and Matthew have performed together several times to the delight of audiences throughout Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina. This concert will focus on music by composers who lived and worked in France during various musical periods, including Impressionism, Romance, and Modern. Most importantly, the money we raise will support Henderson County Hunger Coalition and Agudas Israel outreach programs. It will be a wonderful afternoon of quality music for a good cause. Our passion is to support musicians and build community by providing educational and performance opportunities.”

Henderson County Hunger Coalition was founded 35 years ago by a small group of faith-based volunteers who recognized a critical need to help feed hungry people in Henderson County. Today, its Executive Board is made up of representatives from nine local Christian churches and the Jewish Agudas Israel Congregation. It committed to relieving hunger in Henderson County by raising awareness.

Photo courtesy of event promoters
Christopher Tavernier. Photo courtesy of event promoters

Seventeen-year-old Tavernier made his orchestral debut with the Tar River Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 13, performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 in 2013. In 2014, he placed second in the National Elizabeth Harper Vaughn Concerto Competition in Kingsport, TN and was the youngest performer in the history of the competition. More recently, Tavernier won the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra and Asheville Symphony’s Concerto Competition; the junior division of the Charlotte Symphony’s Concerto Competition; the Concerto Competition of the Symphony Orchestra of Augusta, GA; and Brevard Music Center’s Jan and Beattie Wood Competition. Additionally, Tavernier was named the first International Perzina Artist in the company’s 146-year history. His repertoire includes concertos by Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, and Liszt. Since 2014 he has performed with the Rutherford Chamber Consort, a professional chamber music ensemble headquartered in Western North Carolina. He has performed major benefit concerts supporting the Mission Foundation “Ladies Night Out,”  a collaboration to provide free mammograms and health screenings for uninsured/underinsured women. This past summer he performed a major benefit concert at Asheville’s Diana Wortham Theatre with the Hendersonville Symphony Chamber Orchestra.

Hanna studied clarinet with Robert Chesebro, Ph.D., at Furman University. During that time, he was active as a competitor and placed first in the International Clarinet Association 1995 Young Artist Competition. He placed first in the Southeastern Clarinet Workshop Competition and won the Music Teachers National Association state and divisional woodwind competitions. In addition to being a member the Carolina Youth Symphony for three years, Hanna was featured as a soloist in 1996 performing the Carl Stamitz Clarinet Concerto No.3 in B flat Major. He has also performed as a soloist with the Foothills Philharmonic in performances of the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante and the Weber Clarinet Concerto No.1. In 2014, he joined his former professor at Greenville’s Peace Center performing the Concerto for Two Clarinets and Orchestra in E Flat Major, Opus 35 by Franz Krommer in a side-by-side concert with Dr. Chesebro and 21 members of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra. In 2016, Hanna was invited to perform with the Heliotrope Chamber Ensemble near London, England in a concert featuring the rarely performed Richard Strauss Sonatine No.2 for 16 winds. Hanna is currently active in the Upstate music scene, performing regularly with local orchestras, including the Spartanburg Philharmonic, Foothills Philharmonic, and GAMAC Orchestra. He was the principal clarinetist with the Brevard Philharmonic. He is a founding member of the Papageno Woodwind Quintet and performs as a singer and clarinetist on the front line of the Foothills Oompah Band. Hanna divides his time between clarinet performance and managing his recording studio, Harmony Creek Studio.

Matthew Hanna. Photo courtesy of event organizers
Matthew Hanna. Photo courtesy of event organizers

The piano that Tavernier will be playing is especially noteworthy, as it is a Mason & Hamlin CC-94 Concert Grand: the second to the largest grand piano on the market and American made. Made in Boston and sold locally by Freeburg Pianos in Hendersonville, this latest model CC-94 will make its first stage performance at The French Connection. Measuring 9 feet and 4 inches long, there are only about 20 of these instruments in the United States. This handmade piano is “lauded for its immense power as well as its sensitive and responsive action, the CC-94 is capable of extreme colors, shadings and textures, all with extraordinary clarity. The CC-94 can follow the most sensitive interpreter or cut through an entire symphony orchestra without sounding harsh. From its thunderous bass to its bell-like treble, the CC-94 is perfect for a wide range of repertoire and musical genres.”

The French Connection will be performed in Hendersonville at 125 South Main Street. Admission is $35 and can be purchased online at TheFrenchConnection.rocks. Or, you can call the Hendersonville Visitor Information Center at (828) 693-9708 or Sam Gess at (773) 213-2200. Concert-goers are asked to please bring non-perishable food to the concert as a donation the Henderson County Hunger Coalition.


  • Clarinet & Piano, Francis Poulenc: Sonata, Op. 184

  • Clarinet & Piano, André Messager: Solo de concours
  • Piano, Claude Debussy: L’isle Joyeuse
  • Piano, Claude Debussy: Reflets Dans L’eau
  • Clarinet, Jérôme Naulais: Parfums D’orient


  • Clarinet & Piano, Claude Debussy: Première rhapsodie

  • Piano, Frederic Chopin: Etudes, Opus 10, No. 1-12
  • Piano, Franz Liszt: Grand galop chromatique

Ticket Outlets

  • Hendersonville Visitor Information Center: (828) 693-9708
  • Call Sam Gess: 773-213-2200
About Community Bulletin
Mountain Xpress posts selected news and information of local interest as a public service for our readers. To submit press releases and other community material for possible publication, email news@mountainx.com.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.