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Viola and Bass Concerts in Summer 2019 You Won't Want to Miss

Among your summer plans, why not pencil in a live concert or two featuring some of the world’s best musicians on viola and bass? There are opportunities across the country at festivals and stand-alone events to hear the music you love interpreted by a diverse lineup of acclaimed soloists and ensembles. The following list can be your guide to enriching your summer with live music:

Bass concerts

  1. One of the most versatile solo bassists to emerge since the dawn of the 2000s, composer and performer Edgar Meyer will be featured July 26, 2019, at the 47th annual RockyGrass Festival in the Boulder, Colorado, area. Described by The New Yorker as “…the most remarkable virtuoso in the relatively un-chronicled history of his instrument,” Meyer has recorded and performed both well-known and original compositions with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Yo-Yo Ma. You can also catch Meyer August 1, 2019, when he will perform Bach’s Suite No. 1, BWV 1007, along with original works at the Music Academy of The West in Santa Barbara, Caifornia.
  2. If ever there was a string musician destined to perform at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival in Manhattan, Norweigen Knut Sundquist, who performs there July 26-27, 2019, is him. Beginning his studies on a homemade bass, Sundquist was initially drawn to jazz. After discovering Mozart, he was transformed. He said, “The Mozart Requiem awakened life in me.” He went on to join the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and appears regularly with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and Norwegian Baroque Orchestra, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.
  3. Known primarily as a jazz bassist, vocalist, and composer, Esperanza Spalding is making it her mission to create music that defies and challenges labels. Judge for yourself August 3, 2019, at the 50th Anniversary Concord Jazz Festival in California. Her 2018 recording 12 Little Spells, ranked No. 4 on the New York Times list of the year’s best albums, was lauded by various music critics as “dazzling,” “inexhaustibly creative,” and “pure imagination.”
  4. If you're in London this summer and looking for a budget-friendly concert, how about a free offering from acclaimed bassist Toby Hughes? A 2011 “Future Talent” Coombs Scholarship winner, Hughes teams up with pianist Daniel King Smith on July 22, 2019, to perform Brahms and Bottesini as part of the Free Lunchtime Concert Series at St. Martin in the Fields in London on Trafalgar Square. The duo will perform Brahms’ Rhapsody No. 2 in G minor and Sonata for Cello No. 1 in E minor and Bottesini’s Elegy No. 1 for Double Bass and Piano.

Viola concerts

  1. Aloysia Friedmann, founder and artistic director of the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, performs July 15 and July 17, 2019, at the Seattle Chamber Music Society in Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall. For the first concert, she will perform the Antonín Dvořák Quartet for Piano and Strings in E-flat Major, Op. 87 with James Ehnes (violin), Bion Tsang (cello) and Jon Kimura Parker (piano). For the second performance, with violinists Jun Iwasaki and Yura Lee, and cellist Raphael Bell, Friedmann will perform Amy M.C. Beach’s String Quartet, Op. 89 and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Two Pieces for String Quartet. Friedmann has worked with an eclectic list of musicians from André Previn to Elton John.
  2. Renowned violist Robert Díaz is the star performer of the Curtis on Tour ensemble that will swing through New England July 17-24, beginning with multiple concerts on Nantucket island, followed by single date performances in Falmouth, Massachusetts, and Kingston, Rhode Island. Díaz, an instructor and the CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music, performs regularly around the world as a soloist and collaborator. Among the selections for the New England concerts are Mozart’s Quartet in D major, K. 285 and Paganini’s Quartet in A minor, M.S. 42. He will be accompanied by cellist Albert Seo, flutist Joshua Smith, guitarist Jordan Dodson, and violinist Maria Loudenitch.
  3. In the mood for a taste of the wine country? Explore the vineyards and see Andrew Gonzalez, July 21 and July 28, 2019, at the Valley of the Moon Music Festival in Sonoma, California. A soloist, chamber musician, teacher, and entrepreneur, Gonzalez is a Juilliard graduate who has performed at Carnegie Hall, and where his earlier training was as part of the Ensemble connect program. He will perform the WF Bach Suite BWV 1070 Overture (Orchestral Suite No. 5), Schumann’s Marchenbilder, and Brahms’ String Sextet No. in B-Flat, Op. 18.
  4. Come to Maine for the lobster and stay for the Salt Bay Chamberfest in Damariscotta. Violist Dimitri Murrath will be featured August 1, 2019, and perform Beethoven’s String Trio in D major, Op. 9, No. 2 and other selections with Edward Arron (cello) and Kurt Muroki (bass). Murrath, a 2014 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient, won first prize winner at the Primrose International Viola Competition and second prize at the First Tokyo International Viola Competition. Murrath will stay in the region for an August 8 appearance at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester and then heads to the Olympic Chamber Music Festival in Port Townsend, Washington, August 17.
  5. A faculty artist at the University of Northern Carolina at Chapel Hill Chamber Music Workshop, and London Symphony Orchestra fellow, Stephanie Block performs selections by Beethoven and Zimbalis August 23, 2019, at Barrington’s White House in Barrington, Illinois. A member of the joint symphony of the Juilliard and Sibelius Academy orchestras that performed in Helsinki and Stockholm, Block has worked under several acclaimed conductors. She is a first-year fellow at the New World Symphony and was a gold medal winner in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

We all appreciate the freedom of listening to our favorite music wherever we are and when we want it. But there’s also much to be said about the experience of a live performance. The sense of community and the shared energy in a venue optimized for that experience is a treat for anyone who plays and appreciates classical music. So, treat yourself this summer and enjoy an afternoon or evening of some of the finest string performances offered.

Top image of Esperanza Spalding, courtesy of Wikicommons.


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