Chamber players prepare for novel concert season

music note stockIn their upcoming 42nd season, the Chamber Players of the Greenwich Symphony will present programs that are novel and intriguing even when measured against their own high standards.

The first concerts of the 2013-14 season are set for Oct. 6 and 7.

Of unusual interest are the November concerts, “West Meets East” when guest artist Min Xiao-Fen, instrumentalist, soloist, vocalist and composer will introduce an instrument not well-known in the west — the pipa. Ms. Xiao-Fen is internationally known not only for her virtuosity on the instrument but also for her ability to intermingle traditional Chinese folk and classical music with American jazz, blues and bluegrass.

The four-string pipa, a pear-shaped lute-like instrument, was known in China during the Qin dynasty more than 2000 years ago, becoming popular at the imperial court during the Tang Dynasty.

Ms. Xiao-Fen was born in Nanjing, China and moved to the United States in 1992. In March, 2013, in New York, she played her own compositions ABC (American-Born Chinese), Tan Tan, Chang Chang, as well as Concerto for String Quartet and Pipa by the famous Chinese composer Tan Dun. On Chinese New Year she played solo for Jazz Vespers at St. Peter’s Church. All of these pieces, and Chinese folk songs also, are on her November program in Greenwich with the Chamber Players.

During the season’s four pairs of concerts, beloved and familiar composers will be accompanied by those that are less known. They are being revisited and revived because they merit recognition, the chamber said.

Jean Francaix, whose String Trio will be performed in the October concerts, was a very well regarded 20th century French composer and pianist. He was taught by Nadia Boulanger who considered him to be one of her most gifted students. His music was strongly influenced by Ravel.

The more familiar works of Dvorák, Britten and Beethoven will complete the program.

Joachim Raff’s Piano Quintet in A minor will be presented in the March concerts along with works by Mozart and Mendelssohn. Raff was a nineteenth century Swiss composer and was regarded in his lifetime as one of the foremost composers of the romantic era. He was forgotten for most of the 20th century but is being brought back as a new generation of performers, like the Chamber Players, reintroduce him to audiences who will undoubtedly rediscover his music’s beauty and vitality.

The April concerts will present two Nonets for Wind Quintet; one by the Czech composer Bohuslav Martin, and one by Louis Spohr. What is a nonet, you might ask? It’s an octet plus one. Spohr was a 19th century German violinist, composer and conductor who was highly respected during his lifetime. His music forms a bridge between Classicism and Romanticism.

Partita for Wind Quintet by Irving Fine is also programmed for April. Fine was an American composer who died in 1962. His music is lyrical; his scores described as “singing.” He was a skilled pianist, choral and orchestral conductor. He taught theory and music history at Brandeis and at Harvard in the company of Copeland, Stravinsky, Koussevitski and Bernstein, each of whom admired his writing.

Sunday afternoon concerts are at 4 p.m. at the Round Hill Community Church, except for the concert on Sunday, Nov. 10, which will be at St. Barnabas Church. Monday’s concerts are at 7.30 p.m. at the Bruce Museum. Audiences are invited to complimentary wine and cheese receptions at each concert.

Subscription prices are $75 for adults and $15 for students. Individual tickets are $25. For further information, call 203-637-4725 or visit the Chamber Players website at

On July 11 at 7 p.m. the Chamber Players will give a free concert, “Summer String Fest,” as part of the Greenwich Arts Council Summer Music Program. A bouquet of Strauss, Mozart and Tchaikovsky is eagerly anticipated.

Concerts are filled to capacity, so reservations are to be made in advance through the Arts Council at 203-862-6750.

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