Philadelphia classical music events, discussion, and directory
A new initiative to present cultural events at The William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia was described by David Patrick Sterns in Philly.com in January. Their first event, a piano recital by Ching-Yun Hu, sold out and attendance at the May 14th recital by EnSemBle M was also very good. This remarkable success for a new series may be due to their selection of high caliber musicians with strong ties to well known local institutions. EnSemBle M was recently formed by Judy Geist, violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music. In fact all the members in last night's ensemble had connections to one or both of these institutions.
Judy Geist, viola, Curtis and Philadelphia Orchestra
Carol Cole, violin, Curtis
David Cole, cello, Curtis, and son of Orlando Cole
Amy Oshiro-Morales, violin, Philadelphia Orchestra
Ricardo Morales, principal clarinet, Philadelphia Orchestra
in addition, Chris Barlett, executive directory of William Way played piano accompaniment for Geist in a Bach Sonata
The Curtis Institute and The Philadelphia Orchestra are known for the lush sound in their string sections, and that common training was abundantly clear in the string trio comprised of the Coles and Geist. They performed Ernő Dohnányi's Serenade, Opus 10 with such warm tones that it was as if the wooden bodies of their instruments were singing on their own. Any harsh sounds that could be produced with horse hair on steel strings seemed to be completely absent.
It was also clear that decades of performances had not diminished the individual musician's fire and passion for the music. I recall my disappointment when my grandfather, double bass, Los Angeles Philharmonic, described his role as a "job". With 150 concerts or more per year for a major professional orchestra, musicians will almost surely perform works that they don't like; experience nights when they're not at the top of their game; and perhaps rely on others in their section to make up for a mediocre performance. A string trio; the leanest ensemble possible for a full tonal range for stringed instruments, requires all of its members to perform at their peak as there's no room to hide. The EnSemBle M Trio met this challenge with passion, style, and impeccable technique.
The final work of the night, Brahms' Clarinet Quintet in B minor, included world renowned Ricardo Morales, clarinet, and his wife, Amy Oshiro-Morales, violin. It was truly a rare treat to hear such extraordinary musicians in a chamber setting. It was also obvious that they not only enjoyed the music selections, but thoroughly enjoyed playing together. Their performance ended with heartfelt hugs, genuine smiles, and an extended and joyous applause from the audience. The musicians remained in the room graciously greeting audience members in an informal reception following the performance. Williams Way is off to a great start so keep your eyes open for future events at their convenient location just off of Broad Street.