Current Season

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D is for Dutilleux, Dvorak, and Diabate
Exploring Music through Storytelling

Henri Dutilleux - 3 Strophes sur le nom de Sacher

Antonin Dvorak - Terzetto

Fode Lassana Diabate - Sunjata's Time

Harvard-Epworth UMC, 1555 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge MA 

Sept. 24, 8:00pm


Peter Paetkau and Sarah Zahorondi - Violins

Madeline Stewart - Viola

Linda Hwang - Cello

Valerie Stephens - Storyteller

Our season opener, focusing on composers beginning with "D", explores using music as a means of storytelling. Music and stories have gone together throughout history in many different forms. From western opera and film to the West African griot tradition to modern mixed media artists and beyond, stories and music are often used to enhance each other and our own emotional responses.


Each piece on this program explores a range of emotions. Dutilleux's 3 Strophes was written for a friend's birthday and mirrors poetic form. Dvorak's lyrical Terzetto was a piece meant to be played among friends while Diabate's Sunjata's Time gives voice to characters and themes from the great Malian creation epic.


Throughout this program, the audience will be invited to experience music through the lens of stories. Featuring master storyteller, Valerie Stephens, as both guide and performer, we begin to see chamber music not only as a formal concert experience but as an opportunity for creativity and imagination.

is for Esmail and Elías
Exploring Music through the Visual Arts

Reena Esmail - Ragamala

Alfonso de Elías - String Quartet no. 2

Date and Venue TBA

String players, and in particular, chamber musicians are forever talking about color in music. In an effort to express as many of the composer's ideas as possible, musicians use visuals in their rehearsal process to describe how to achieve specific sound "colors". How do we adapt bow speed, vibrato, and articulation to express the color we want. In this program, the idea of color becomes quite literal as we employ the visual arts to reflect on these pieces by Esmail and Elías.

Local artists join us on this program to create visual responses to the music. Using featured works as inspiration, artists create companion pieces as the music plays while the audience is invited to explore their own ideas of musical color. 

Reena Esmail's Ragamala is based on ideas from Hindustani music and gives the listener a taste of the vibrancy of the Indian color palette. Rhythm, ornamentation, and harmonies inspired by the subcontinent imbue this piece with a rich yet refreshing character. Alfonso de Elías' String Quartet no. 2 is a prime example of Mexican, Romantic, chamber music. Elías' dense writing is a great medium for this program's synesthetic experience. 

is for Frank, Fahim, and Faure
Exploring Music through Movement

Gabriela Lena Frank - Suite Mestiza 

Arson Fahim - Piano Trio on Afghan Folk Songs

Gabriel Faure - Piano Quartet in C minor

Date and Venue TBA

Music inherently requires movement. Whether it is a singer's breath, a pianist's fingers, or a violinist's bow, there is always a physical action needed to create the sound. In many languages, the words for music and dance are one and the same. Why then has the concert hall become a place of stoicism and stillness? What are the advantages and limits of this ritual?

Experts in movement and dance perform alongside ABC musicians in this program celebrating the physicality of music. Pushing the limits of concert hall etiquette, dancers translate featured pieces into physical art and maybe even help the audience do the same.


Gabriela Lena Frank is a Peruvian-American composer who creates musical vignettes of her travels through South America in her piece, Suite Mestiza. Arson Fahim transcribes music from his native Afghanistan for the piano trio against the poignant backdrop of the Taliban takeover last year. The program closes with Gabriel Faure's Piano Quartet in C minor, a piece that plays with moments of movement and stillness. 

is for Grieg and Grant Still
Exploring Music through Instrument Building

William Grant Still - Danzas de Panama

Edvard Grieg - String Quartet no. 1

Date and Venue TBA

The history of classical music has always progressed alongside the development of its instruments. The innovations of instrument builders enabled composers to reach for new musical heights. However, with string instruments in particular, there is a reverence for instruments centuries old. In this program, we partner with students and educators from the North Bennet Street School's Violin Making program to discuss the new golden age of violin making while playing on instruments by local makers. 

William Grant Still was one of the most important composers of the 20th century and a leader of black classical music at the time. His piece Danzas de Panama is a medley of tunes and rhythms from the Central American country. It is a strong example of folk tunes being used in classical compositions. Another composer famous for this practice was Edvard Grieg who regularly imbued his music with the sounds of his native Norway. This first quartet was written while Grieg was staying at a friends farm. Of this piece, Grieg wrote, "It strives towards breadth, soaring flight, and above all resonance for the instruments for which it is written".

is for Higdon, Houben, and Haydn
Season Finale!!

Jennifer Higdon - Love Suite

Eva-Maria Houden - Gesange des Tages und                                              der Nacht, Gesange VI

Joseph Haydn - Quartet in B flat Major,                                               "Sunrise"

Date and Venue TBA

Join us for our final concert of the season! More info coming soon!