Concerts International opens its 41st season on Tuesday with a performance by the American String Quartet at the Buckman Performing Arts Center.
The series was started by music faculty at the University of Memphis who wanted to bring world-class chamber music to Memphis. Twenty years ago the American String Quartet played for Concerts International and returns this year to open the season. The ensemble has been the resident quartet at the Aspen Music Festival and the Manhattan School of Music for decades.
"They remind me of the Philadelphia Orchestra in that they have this luxurious string sound," says Julie Schap, artistic director for Concerts International.
Schap says the five-concert season is diversified, bringing traditional chamber works, but adding some new sounds and other features to further involve the audience.
"This season we have two string quartets; a piano trio; a piano, cello and clarinet trio; and an early music ensemble," she says.
"We're also re-engaging our audiences in a new way," Schap says. "Every concert will have an onstage conversation, with a member of the
U of M faculty talking to the performers about why they chose the program, what's unique about the pieces and asking them what the audience should listen for. We want to bring in younger audience members and we want people to love chamber music as much as we do."
Kenneth Kreitner, a U of M professor of musicology, will talk with the Aulos Ensemble, which is known for giving performances with period instruments. Aulos will play works by Vivaldi, Bach, Couperin, Handel and Rameau on Nov. 13 at the Clark Opera Memphis Center.
When the Harlem Quartet comes to U of M's Harris Auditorium on March 19, Kevin Sanders will get them to talk about their program and performances. They will play works by Mozart and Schubert, but also "Take the A Train" by Billy Strayhorn and "The Adventures of Hippocrates" by Chick Corea.
The other concerts are The Goldstein-Peled-Fiterstein Trio on Jan. 22 at Harris Auditorium and The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio on April 30 at St. John Episcopal Church.
Looking ahead to next season, Schap says, "We're bringing a cello quartet to honor Peter Spurbeck, a supporter of Concerts International." Spurbeck, who died earlier this year, was a longtime professor at the University and cellist for the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.
7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Buckman Performing Arts Center at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, 60 Perkins Ext. Tickets: $40. Season tickets for five concerts: $150. There is also a Flex-Pass option of four tickets that can be used in any combination for any of the five concerts for $120. For more information, call 901-527-3067 or go to concertsinternationalmemphis.org.