Kathryn Lockwood

Kathryn Lockwood

Music by Arnold Schoenberg and Richard Strauss has been selected to celebrate the return of RiverArts’ Chamber Music Concert Series on Sunday, Nov. 21, from 1-3 p.m. in the gallery at the Newington-Cropsey Foundation in Hastings. This will be RiverArts’ first chamber music concert since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are delighted to hold the chamber music fundraiser again this year,” RiverArts artistic director Kate Ashby said. “This is always a highlight of our year and we look forward to sharing this wonderful program of music at this magnificent venue.

“We are especially grateful to the Newington-Cropsey Foundation for generously hosting this event, allowing our audience to experience fine music along with the art of Jasper Cropsey,” Ashby continued. “The Foundation gallery is an ideal venue for enjoying chamber music and art in an elegant and intimate setting.”

The Chamber Music Series was started by RiverArts in 2016. Cellist Peter Seidenberg of Hastings serves as artistic director of the series, which is produced by Doug Coe, former executive director of RiverArts.

“I am so pleased with this year’s music selections — each of which, in dramatic and vivid ways, reflects optimism and forgiveness,” Seidenberg said. “They are both very positive, like bright beacons in the universe, and what could be a better way to start our series? I am also thrilled with the musicians who will gather for the concert, two of whom are coming from a distance. 

“The Schoenberg piece enabled Doug and I to do what we love — combine the muses of music and poetry,” Seidenberg continued. “This also gave us the opportunity to utilize the tantalizing presence of Edoardo Ballerini, my Hastings neighbor, who is famous for his award-winning audiobook narrations.”

In addition to Seidenberg, the participating musicians will be Chi Chi Bestmann, viola; Sylvia Danburg Volpe, violin; Ling Ling Huang, violin; April Johnson, violin; Kathryn Lockwood, viola; Anton Rist, clarinet; Tomoko Uchino, piano; Alan Weinstein, cello; and Allison Carney, soprano. Weinstein lives in Blacksburg, Va., and Bestmann, formerly of Riverdale, now lives in St. Paul, Minn. Rivertowns residents include Johnson, who is married to Seidenberg, and Danburg Volpe of Dobbs Ferry. All have performed in major concert halls throughout the U.S., as well as internationally with leading orchestras and ensembles.

The Schoenberg piece selected for the program is “Verklarte Nacht” (1899) or “Transfigured Night.” It will be performed in its original version for string sextet, rather than the expanded version for string orchestra. “Verklarte Nacht” was inspired by Richard Dehmel’s poem of the same name, considered a groundbreaking work at the time for its acceptance of sensuality. In the poem, a woman tells a man that she loves that the child she is carrying is not his. The man claims the child will be as his own. Ballerini will recite Dehmel’s five-stanza work as an introduction to the performance.

“Schoenberg’s ‘Transfigured Night’ is dramatic and bold and something we have wanted to perform for a long time,” Seidenberg said. “The participation of Sylvia [Danburg Volpe] cannot be minimized. She is really carrying the spirit of this big operatic piece. We were so lucky she could join us this year.” 

“My schedule finally allowed me to be a part of the Chamber Music Series, and I am thrilled,” said Danburg Volpe, who is associate principal second violin of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. “The minute it is over I will jump into my car and head into Manhattan for the 3 p.m. matinee performance of ‘Porgy and Bess.’

“I love this Schoenberg piece — it is romantic and emotionally engaging. While challenging, it drops right into your lap,” Danburg Volpe concluded.

Seidenberg pointed out that Strauss wrote his Piano Quartet in C minor early in his career (1884), and it is full of youthful exuberance. Strauss’ later works would include the operas “Der Rosenkavalier” and “Salome.” 

“This work is also optimistic, but in a different way than Schoenberg’s,” Seidenberg said. “It is vibrant, lyrical, passionate, forward-looking, and foreshadows the great operas that were to 

come.”

Coe expressed pleasure at being able “To stay connected to RiverArts through continuing to produce the Chamber Music Series. We presented a chamber music concert just a few days before the country shut down in March 2020, and it feels so good to be starting up again with this fundraiser at the Cropsey Foundation.”

Ashby said that proceeds from the concert will help to sustain RiverArts’ chamber music programs throughout the year and enable the organization to offer programs that feature distinguished performers and diverse repertoire to Rivertowns audiences.

Tickets, available at riverarts.org, are $100 and must be purchased in advance. Proof of vaccination and masks are required to attend. Refreshments will be served following the concert.

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