Performances

Christmas at the Odeon Theater

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THE ODEON THEATER
AT 2PM, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2019

The Artisan Quartet

Patrice Calixte, violin
Caleb Hans Polashek, violin
Bruce Williams, viola
Douglas Harvey, cello

Celebrate the Holiday Season With Traditional Christmas Music performed by the Mason Chamber Music Festival’s artist-in-residence The Artisan String Quartet. Admission is free. Donations are gratefully appreciated.

Artisan String Quartet Fundraiser

STRIBLING ROOM AT M. BEVAN ECKERT LIBRARY

AT 6:30PM, FEBRUARY 12, 2020

The Artisan Quartet

Patrice Calixte, violin
Caleb Hans Polashek, violin
Bruce Williams, viola
Douglas Harvey, cello

Dvorak Op 51

Tickets call 325 281 2353

Salud!

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HERITAGE PARK

FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2021 AT 7 O’CLOCK IN THE EVENING

Javier Chaparro & Salud

Bring your lawn chairs and picnic dinner and enjoy party music with a Latinx flair!

Mason High School Performance

To Be Announced

The Artisan Quartet

Patrice Calixte, violin
Caleb Hans Polashek, violin
Bruce Williams, viola
Douglas Harvey, cello

Opus 29 Viola Quintet

Jeff Hellmer Jazz Quartet

& Steve Girko

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AT LEA LOU CO-OP
ON THE EAST SIDE OF THE MASON SQUARE
To Be Announced

Jeff Hellmer Jazz Quartet & Steve Girko

Odeon Gala Concert

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THE ODEON THEATER
ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE TOWN SQUARE
AT 7 O’CLOCK IN THE EVENING, FRIDAY, JUNE 4, 2021

The Artisan Quartet
Patrice Calixte, violin
Caleb Hans Polashek, violin
Bruce Williams, viola
Douglas Harvey, cello

Joseph Haydn String Quartet Opus 74 #1

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

Franz Joseph Haydn is credited with inventing both the string quartet and the classical symphony orchestra forms and was a teacher and mentor to Mozart, Beethoven, and other important musicians of his day. Even as a relatively young man, he was widely known as “Papa“ Haydn by his contemporaries because of his kindness and compassion.
Although Haydn composed Opus 1 and 2, Divertimenti a Quattro, for the combination of two violins, a viola, and a cello, many scholars point to the Opus 3 set as the first true string quartets in form and conception. Almost by accident, Haydn had created a new form that many of the greatest composers would explore. Ludwig van Beethoven’s string quartet output is so important in musical history that it is sometimes used as a metaphor to illustrate the rapid and radical transition from the late 1700’s Classical era in music history to the Romantic era that began to emerge in the early 1800’s and lasted through the majority of the century.
By the time Haydn composed the six quartets of Opus 71 and 74 in the summer of 1793, he had become the most famous musician in Europe. He had recently returned from a trip to England where he had attended brilliant and fully professional string quartet performances. Upon returning home, Haydn was eager to compose new quartets inspired by the skilled performers he heard on his trip. His previous string quartet compositions had relied heavily on the first violin for most of the artistic and technical flair, with the other three players, especially the second violin and viola, in an accompaniment role. Haydn’s approach in Opus 74 was to make the four parts much more equal, allowing opportunities for all the musicians in the group to express their artistic and technical ability. The result is brilliant and very appealing music with a new sense of teamwork and shared responsibility and leadership that is the cornerstone of modern string quartet playing.
Opus 74 #1 is a composition in four movements starting with two introductory chords —as if to pop the cork on a festive event. The good cheer continues throughout the opening Allegro Moderato with the main theme passed around the quartet in various ways. The music builds to a massive unison statement and a joyous rush to the end. The second movement has a distinctly more relaxed pace. It’s not a true slow movement, which would usually follow such an energetic opening movement. The Andante Grazioso is more like a stroll in the park or a gentle paddle down a scenic waterway, a conversation with a companion ebbing and flowing with the scenery.
The third movement in Haydn string quartets are usually Menuettos, dance-like movements in ¾ time like a waltz, and Opus 74 #1 is a clever example of the form. Here, Haydn alternates between a rustic, beer-drinking feel of a peasant dance down at the pub and a more courtly genteel dance from the royal court. He also demonstrates his compositional skill with unusual but very successful modulations to unexpected keys, adding to Haydn’s reputation for imagination and innovation.
The unbounded energy of the last movement brings the proceedings full circle. The Finale, marked Vivace or with life, demands great technical skill from all four players, and Haydn seems now just to be showing off.  Waves of fast notes fly around the group, only interrupted by a drone-like theme reminiscent of Scottish bagpipes, something he may have heard in London.
Bruce Williams 

 

 

Carlos Simon Elegy: “A Cry From The Grave”

Carlos Simon was born in Washington DC in 1986. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music (with concentrations in piano and composition) from Morehouse College and a Master of Music degree from Georgia State University.

The evocative nature of the piece draws on strong lyricism and a lush harmonic charter. A melodic idea is played in all the voices of the ensemble at some point of the piece either whole or fragmented. The recurring ominous motif represents the cry of those struck down unjustly in this country. While the predominant essence of the piece is sorrowful and contemplative, there are moments of extreme hope represented by bright consonant harmonies.

 

 

Antonin Dvorak String Quartet Opus 96 the “American”

Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
String Quartet Opus 96, The “American”
Antonín Dvořák was born in a small village near Prague in what was then Bohemia. His father, a local innkeeper, and butcher played the zither at local weddings and sometimes composed original dance tunes for the festivities. It did not take long before a young Antonín was playing the violin with his father at these functions.
By age sixteen, Dvořák was receiving solid musical training in Prague. By the mid-1860s, the music of Bedřich Smetana, with its bohemian folk idioms and nationalistic influence, began to make a very strong impression on Dvořák. He began to realize that his own deep affection and strong nationalist feeling toward his native land could be expressed through his music. Dvořák’s musical nationalism seldom took the form of actual quotes from existing folk tunes. Instead, he studied the traditional melodic and rhythmic patterns of Slavonic folk music and then created his own melodies.

The Sandstone Chamber Series
featuring

The Artisan Quartet at the Methodist Church

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MASON CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL

FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, MASON

SUNDAY, JUNE 6, 2021 AT 3 O’CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON

The Sandstone Chamber Series Featuring the

The Artisan Quartet
Patrice Calixte, violin
Caleb Hans Polashek, violin
Bruce Williams, viola
Douglas Harvey, cello

Welcoming Guest Artists Stephen Girko & Richard Kilmer

W. A. Mozart String Quartet K. 465 the “Dissonance”

In 1773, Mozart met Joseph Haydn, and in a conversation with Leopold Mozart, Wolfgang‘s father, Haydn said, “…before God, and as an honest man, I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me in person or by name.” When Mozart composed the set of six string quartets, which include K. 465 between 1782-1785, the string quartet form was still in its relative infancy. Mozart was very taken with this new form, especially as composed by his friend and mentor Joseph Haydn, prompting Mozart to dedicate the set to “Papa“ Haydn, who had himself composed the first true string quartets around 20 years earlier. In the sincerest form of flattery, Mozart imitated Haydn’s approach in the six works, sometimes called the “Haydn Quartets,” while infusing his own incomparable flair. In a touching act of friendship, Mozart actually gave the works to Haydn! In a letter, Mozart wrote, “… I send my six sons to you, my most celebrated and very dear friend. They are, indeed, the fruits of long and arduous labor… Receive them kindly and be to them a father, guide, and friend! From this moment, I surrender all my rights over them…. “

The nickname Dissonance given to K. 465 refers to the opening Adagio. There are some forward-looking harmonies for the late 18th century, and audiences at the time thought they heard wrong notes in the short introduction. Mozart’s publisher was also rumored to have had issues with the opening, but Mozart stood firm, and the result is a sublime beginning well ahead of its time. In complete contrast to the somber and controversial opening, the first movement continues joyfully with no hint of the serious introduction.

All cares are definitely gone as the slow second movement has a beautiful simplicity. There are two contrasting themes here, one polyphonic or chordal, and the second a conversational, melodic interaction between the 1st violin and cello. The flowing and introspective music leads to a lovely coda where the two violins and cellos pass fragments of the melodic theme back and forth over a continuous pulse played by the viola.

The Menuetto starts with cheerful music that calls to mind peasant dances and robust German drinking songs. The music turns stormy in the second section, but the party returns to end the movement.

The Allegro begins with the 1st violin at the center of attention. The other instruments play interweaving harmonies adding to the brilliance and happy exuberance of this movement. Fragments of the theme are passed around the quartet throughout and the piece ends gloriously with a tremendous crescendo to the end.

 

 

Samuel Barber “Adagio” from String Quartet Opus 11

The Adagio for Strings was originally part of Samuel Barber’s Opus 11 string quartet, composed in 1936 when the composer was 26 years old. Barber himself arranged a version for full orchestral strings, which Arturo Toscanini premiered with the NBC Radio Orchestra as The Adagio for Strings. Millions of people heard the 1938 world premiere live in their living rooms. Of that performance, the New York Times music critic Olin Downs wrote that Barber “achieved something…perfect,” and Alexander Morin wrote later that the Adagio is music “full of pathos and cathartic passion” and “rarely leaves a dry eye.”

The rest is history. The Adagio has been heard at the highest-profile memorial services, including for U. S. Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, royalty such as Princesses Diana of Wales and Grace of Monaco, and the world-famous scientist, Albert Einstein. It has been used in soundtracks of at least 18 movies, including The Scarlet Letter, Platoon, and perhaps the most poignant pairing with film, The Elephant Man. No less than 11 different TV series have used the Adagio, including ER, The Simpsons, and How I Met Your Mother.

The Adagio is considered by many to be the most popular of all 20th century orchestral works. Ironically, neither of Barber’s two Pulitzer Prizes were for this work. However, the 1938 orchestral recording was selected for the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress (LOC) in 2005. The LOC is also the depository for Barber’s manuscripts, recordings, and correspondence.

 

 

Carl Maria von Weber Clarinet Quintet Opus 34

Carl Maria von Weber is often referred to as the father of German romantic opera. While his name might not be so well known for many modern-day music lovers, during his lifetime and for many years after his death, his music, compositional approach, and especially his orchestrations, were both imitated and admired by famous contemporaries such as Felix Mendelssohn, Hector Berlioz, and Richard Wagner. Weber’s music was also revered and referenced by the next generation of 19th and 20th-century composers, including Debussy, Chopin, Liszt, Stravinsky, and Paul Hindemith, whose most famous orchestra work is the “Symphonic Metamorphosis on a theme of C. M. von Weber.” Gustav Mahler also paid homage to Weber by completing and presenting a performance of a Weber unfinished opera.

While known most for his two famous opera’s Oberon and Der Freischutz, Weber also composed some delightful chamber music, including Opus 34. The clarinet was only invented at the end of the 18th century, so like many other 19th century composers, Weber was composing music to feature this new sound. The expressive possibilities, dynamic range, enamored him, and variety of tone color the instrument offered and pairing the clarinet with the string quartet created this early 19th-century masterpiece of chamber music. Like most of Weber’s music for solo clarinet, the quintet was written for virtuoso, Heinrich Baermann. The two men went on an extensive European tour featuring Weber‘s solo clarinet music, and many music historians attribute that successful tour to Weber’s rise to prominence.

Opus 34 is charming, dramatic, and very well crafted – just like the rest of Weber’s music. Each of the four movements seems to tell a story, not unlike his favorite medium of opera, with the clarinet voice always in the lead like a Hero experiencing a gallant adventure. The quartet is the Hero’s sidekick, with him through thick and thin, and the piece ends with spirited, galloping music as the adventure reaches the high point with virtuosic music in the clarinet, and a wild rush to the end as our Hero returns home triumphantly!