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Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival

Sunday, March 13 — Sunday, March 20, 2016

“One of the best and most adventurous festivals in the US!”
(American Record Guide)

“A jewel of a festival.” (WFMT, Chicago)

The 23rd Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival is anchored by one of today’s finest ensembles, the Pacifica Quartet, and brings together such festival favorites as Cynthia Phelps, Bernadette Harvey and Axel Strauss with exciting festival newcomers Marc-André Hamelin and Johannes Moser. As he has since the beginning, festival director Peter Rejto masterminds a stimulating mix of familiar and unfamiliar, old and new— including the exciting premiere of an AFCM commissioned duo for cello and piano by Canadian composer Heather Schmidt. And don’t forget our Festival Gala Dinner and Concert, an elegant meal at the Arizona Inn graced with performances of music you won’t hear at any of the regular festival concerts.

Over 2 hours of music! Enjoy a random full length track from each of our Festival CDs while learning about our festival. Use the forward and reverse buttons to scroll through the selections.

Festival Series Subscription - 5 concerts - $120
(5 for the price of 4)

Gala Dinner only - $160

Five festival concerts and Gala Dinner - $280


Sunday, March 13, 2016
3:00 PM

Rossini: String Sonata No. 6

Weinberg: Cello Sonata No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
(Johannes Moser , Bernadette Harvey)

Stevens: Rhythmic Caprice
(Svet Stoyanov)

Beethoven: String Quartet in C Major, Op. 59 No. 3
(Pacifica Quartet)

Rossini claimed to have met Beethoven in person; some scholars think this was a hollow boast, but the two definitely encounter each other in our festival’s opening concert. Beethoven once wrote to Rossini, “Never try to write anything else but opera buffa; any other style would do violence to your nature.” Rossini ignored this advice, producing among other things a set of six sonatas for string ensemble in a buffo style. They’re quite at odds with the radiance of Beethoven’s middle-period quartets, one of which ends this concert. Keeping Rossini and Beethoven at a safe distance are a virtuosic showpiece for marimba, and an expressive cello sonata in the style of Shostakovich.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016
7:30 PM

Schumann: Andante and Variations, Op. 46

Wieniawski: Reverie
(Cindy Phelps, Bernadette Harvey)

Piazzolla: Histoire du Tango

Schubert: String Quintet in C Major
(Pacifica Quartet, Johannes Moser)

Add an extra cello to a conventional string quartet—in this case, Johannes Moser joining the Pacifica Quartet—and you get seductive, velvety sonic richness. Add composer Franz Schubert to the mix, and the lush sound serves an unbroken stream of melody, all contained in Schubert’s great (and only) string quintet. Lyricism also pervades the music Schumann wrote for the unusual combination of horn and pairs of pianos and cellos, and Wieniawski’s pensive Reverie. For contrast, Astor Piazzolla condenses the history of the tango into a 15-minute suite, which here features violin and percussion.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016
7:30 PM

Brahms: Horn Trio in E-Flat Major, Op. 40
(Axel Strauss, Marc-Andre Hamelin, Eric Ruske)

Bartók: Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion
(Marc-Andre Hamelin, Bernadette Harvey, Svet Stoyanov)

Schmidt: Cello Sonata
(AFCM commissioned world premiere)

(Bernadette Harvey, Clive Greensmith)

Goetz: Piano Quintet in C Minor, Op. 16
(Johannes Moser, Cindy Phelps, Yura Lee, Bernadette Harvey, Volkan Orhan)

This concert ends with one of the greatest Schumann-Brahms-style composers you’ve probably never heard: the short-lived German Hermann Goetz, some of whose music was praised by George Bernard Shaw as better than anything by Brahms. Well, Brahms certainly holds his own in his nostalgic, uniquely scored trio for horn, violin and piano; Brahms knew what he was doing, able as he was to play the horn as well as the piano. Bartók’s stunning Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion is an engaging display of all the elements that make Bartók so distinctive. And how to describe Heather Schmidt’s cello sonata? Who knows? It’s an AFCM-commissioned world premiere!

Thursday March 17, 2016
Youth Concert

Every year during our Festival, 500 kids (grade school through high school) pack the concert hall, some traveling from more than an hour away. They come in school groups to hear a concert by the same world-class musicians who play for the festival. And they get to interact with them!


Friday, March 18, 2016
7:30 PM

Puts: Piano Quintet
(Bernadette Harvey, Yura Lee, Cindy Phelps, Clive Greensmith, Volkan Orhan)

Dresher: Double Ikat
(Axel Strauss, Svet Stoyanov, Bernadette Harvey)

Ysaÿe: String Trio, Op. 19, “London”

Ornstein: Piano Quintet
(Pacifica Quartet, Marc-Andre Hamelin)

If you yearn for something more than the old favorites, here’s a concert especially for you—substantial, well-crafted, listener-friendly music you’ll probably hear nowhere else, all of it composed within the past 100-plus years. Ysaye’s unsettled but voluptuous string trio is the work of a master violinist-composer, requiring mastery of its performers. American Kevin Puts has been heard in two previous Winter Chamber Festivals; this time, discover a piano quintet he wrote when he was just six years away from winning the Pulitzer Prize. We presented Paul Dresher’s Double Ikat in 2008; it proved so popular (partly because of its unusual scoring for violin, percussion and piano) that we’re bringing it back. The Pacifica Quartet has spent the past couple of years reviving Leo Ornstein’s big, brawny and brash Piano Quintet, which has been hailed as a major discovery.

Saturday March 19, 2016
3:00 & 4:00 pm
Master Classes

Attendance is free and open to the public

Saturday March 19, 2016 6:00 pm
Gala dinner and concert at the Arizona Inn

Cocktails and open wine bar 7:00 pm
Performance 8:00 pm

Dinner reservations required.


Sunday, March 20, 2016
3:00 PM

Harbison: Twilight Music
(Bernadette Harvey, Eric Ruske, Yura Lee)

Adams: Hallelujah Junction
(Marc-Andre Hamelin, Bernadette Harvey)

Julia Wolfe: Cello Quintet
(Pacifica Quartet, Johannes Moser)

Vaughan Williams: Piano Quintet
in C Minor

(Marc-Andre Hamelin, Axel Strauss, Cindy Phelps, Clive Greensmith, Volkan Orhan)

The festival’s grand finale is a tour from one end of the 20th century to the other. The Vaughan Williams Piano Quintet, a true rarity from a celebrated composer, finds the composer under the influence of Brahms (while using the instrumentation of Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet), just on the verge of developing the English folk-influenced style that would make his music so beloved. John Harbison’s Twilght Music uses the same scoring as the Brahms Horn Trio, which the composer describes as “instruments which I heard meeting best under cover of dusk.” And, fittingly for a musical travelogue, Hallelujah Junction is a piece for two pianos that John Adams named after a California truck stop, and is a masterpiece of echoing sonorities.

Music from the 2015 Festival
(more video here)


Move your arrow over an image or tap your touch screen for a brief bio.

Pacifica Quartet

Brandon Vamos,
Sibbi Bernhardsson,
Simin Ganatra,
Masumi Per Rostad,

Peter Rejto,
artistic director
Clive Greensmith,
Marc-André Hamelin,
Bernadette Harvey,
Johannes Moser,
Yura Lee,
Volkan Orhan,
Cynthia Phelps,
Eric Ruske,

Svet Stoyanov,

Axel Strauss,
Matthew Strauss,
Heather Schmidt,
piano and composer