I had already purchased season tickets to the Asheville Chamber Music Series before I even moved to Western North Carolina in 2000. Someone told me I should not miss this five-concert series, held in the sanctuary of the Asheville Unitarian Universalist Church. He said that these concerts provide the most consistently satisfying classical music in Asheville.
The March 25 concert was a highlight of the current season. The Miró Quartet was here, with first violinist Daniel Ching, violist John Largess, cellist Joshua Gindele and newly arrived second violinist Tereza Stanislav. Their chosen program began with Franz Schubert’s one-movement “Quartettsatz” in C minor, D.703, followed by Phillip Glass’s 1991 Quartet No. 5. After intermission, Johannes Brahms’ Quartet in C minor, Op. 51/1, concluded the program. The Miró Quartet has reached its full potential and is now that marvel of chamber music: a four-bodied performer that seems to have but one head. They think alike, sense the audience alike, and send neural signals to their arms and hands with an amazing synchronicity.
Generally speaking, my friend who touted this series was right. In eleven years, there have been few mediocre recitals and none that were downright poor. The worst that I can recall was a Russian string quartet that shall go nameless. That group spent so much time tuning before every piece (and frequently between movements) that I began to fidget, wondering if they would ever get it right. However, even amidst generally high quality, each season has had its highlights. Other seasons had memorable concerts by Red Priest, the Pacifica Quartet, the Ying Quartet, the Beaux Arts Trio and the Paris Trio (a piano trio from the Conservatoire de Paris). The Miró Quartet made this final concert the pinacle of the 2010-11 season.
The sponsoring organization’s board of directors is clearly dedicated to the highest musical quality. They have recently raised over $31,000 toward their $50,000 goal to purchase a seven-foot Steinway, so that visiting ensembles that include piano can demonstrate their full potential.
At this concert, the board president announced the 2011-12 season, which we will add to our calendar in due course. It will include the Calder Quartet, the Alexander String Quartet and a return engagement for the Pacifica Quartet. The New York Chamber Soloists will be here too, and the series will begin October 21 with Ani Kavafian (violin), André-Michel Schub (piano) and David Shifrin (clarinet). Having heard each of these musicians as a concerto soloist but never as a trio, I look forward to that program and indeed all the future programs. Bravo Asheville Chamber Music Series!