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Nevada Chamber Music Festival’s Holiday Gift

Published December 23, 2022

Nevada Chamber Music Festival’s Holiday Gift

by Scott Faulkner

Since 2004, the Reno Chamber Orchestra has given a very special gift to our community at the holidays: The Nevada Chamber Music Festival (NCMF). Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, great musicians from Reno and around the world gather in the Truckee Meadows for a concentrated week of musicmaking. This tradition continues December 28-January 1. Festival artistic director and world-renowned cellist Clive Greensmith has assembled an amazing roster of artists and six fantastic concerts. 

The NCMF opens on December 28 in UNR’s Hall Recital Hall, where all but the final concert will be performed, with a concert by the nonpareil clarinetist David Krakauer. Revered for his mastery of musical styles from Klezmer to jazz to classical, Krakauer wowed Reno audiences when he performed with the RCO in 2018. The performance showcases him playing Klezmer on the first half, alone and with a string quintet. This is followed by Brahms’s Trio for clarinet cello and piano after the intermission, performed by Krakauer, Greensmith, and festival favorite, pianist Steven Vanhauwaert. 

The second night’s program, Virtuosos on Display, is exactly that. One of the many benefits of having Clive Greensmith as the festival’s artistic director is his pipeline to some of the most brilliant young talent in the country. This connection derives from his position as professor of cello and chamber music at the prestigious Colburn School in Los Angeles. This concert features two Colburn stars: alumna Grace Park, winner of the 2018 Naumberg Violin Competition, opens the program, accompanied by Vanhauwaert, in Grieg’s beautiful Sonata No. 3. Current superstar Colburn student of Mr. Greensmith, cellist James Baik, joins another superstar James, Reno pianist James Winn, in two works for cello and piano by Franz Liszt. A protégé of Lord Yehudi Menuhin, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky joins internationally acclaimed pianist Wu Qian, and Mr. Greensmith in Dvorak’s Piano Trio No. 3 to close the concert.

Clive Greensmith: Festival artistic director and world-renowned cellist

Café Europa is the title of the December 30 concert. Works by Schumann, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn comprise this concert. The Schumann Märchenerzählungen sees the return of clarinetist Krakauer, pianist Vanhauwaert, and introduces violist Dmitri Murrath to festival audiences. Murrath is a past winner of the Primrose Viola Competition, professor of viola at the San Francisco Conservatory, and performs regularly around the world. Sitkovetsky and Qian will perform Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 7. The concert closes with Ms. Park, Helen Kim, Dustin Budish, and Mr. Greensmith performing Mendelssohn’s D major String Quartet. A native of Reno, and past winner of the Reno Chamber Orchestra’s College Concerto Competition, Ms. Kim was recently named associate concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony, after distinguished tenures in the St. Louis and San Francisco Symphonies. Local favorite and Reno Phil and Reno Chamber Orchestra principal violist, Dustin Budish, fills out the quartet.

2022 ends with a full day of beautiful music, as the NCMF presents two concerts. The 2pm concert, British Invasion, is a very special one as it not only features wonderful music from British composers (plus one by a Russian… more on that in a second), but it also features the rich, and too-often neglected, alto and tenor voices of the string family. Messrs. Murrath and Vanhauwaert join forces to present the virtuosic Arnold Bax Viola Sonata, then Mr. Budish and Ms. Qian perform Shostakovich’s Viola Sonata, an emotionally overpowering masterpiece the great composer wrote at the very end of his life. The second half opens with two of Reno’s local musical heroes, cellist Peter Lenz and pianist Winn, playing Gustav Holt’s gorgeous Invocation. The concert closes with Ms. Park, Mr. Baik, and Mr. Vanhauwaert playing Rebecca Clarke’s Piano Trio in e-flat minor.

Although the next program is entitled Midnight in Vienna, it actually occurs at 7:30pm in Reno. A dream team of Renoites (Helen Kim, Dustin Budish, Peter Lenz, and James Winn) open the concert with Mozart’s sublime Piano Quartet in E-flat Major. Qian and Vanhauwaert then take the stage to play Schubert’s Fantasie in f-minor for piano, 4 hands. The concert ends with Brahms’ magnificent Clarinet Quintet. Reno’s beloved concertmaster, Ruth Lenz, joins Krakauer, Sitkovetsky, Murrath, and Baik, in what will certainly be an unforgettable conclusion to 2022.

After a few hours off for revelry and sleep, January 1st brings with it the opening of 2023 and the closing of the Nevada Chamber Music Festival. This 4pm concert, entitled Wonderous Strings will take place in the majestic and reverberant Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. Opening with Ruth Lenz performing Bach’s exquisite Partita for Solo Violin in E Major, this program showcases many festival string players in a variety of ways. Violinists Park and Kim join forces in Bach’s “Double” Concerto for Two Violins and Strings and cellist Baik joins a small ensemble of strings to perform Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major.

Members of Reno’s Lenz family have for decades graced our community’s stages, and this program features a number of us. I say “us” because I proudly and fully disclose that through my marriage to Andrea Lenz, I’m invited to family gatherings, and am playing in this concert, too! Brothers John and Peter Lenz join Greensmith and Baik in a performance of Julius Klengel’s Impromptu for Four Cellos, and the concert concludes with Grieg’s rollicking Holberg Suite, performed by strings of the NCMF.

When it comes to the Nevada Chamber Music Festival, I understand that I am ridiculously biased; but it really is one of the most remarkable parts of our community’s remarkable musical offerings. A number of years ago, RCO board member Les Cohen wrote in a letter to the Reno Gazette-Journal that for one week of the year, “Reno is the chamber music capital of the world.” Next week is that week. We hope you and the music lovers in your life will partake of this gift of music, and join us.

 

Scott Faulkner  is the founding executive director and bassist of the Nevada Chamber Music Festival. He is also principal bassist of the Reno Phil and Reno Chamber Orchestra.

More from Scott Faulkner

Thankful for Christmas Music by Scott Faulkner — November 25, 2022

Incredible Alumni from Essentials of Orchestra Management Seminar by Scott Faulkner — October 21, 2022

Falling for Orchestra: A Season of Events by Scott Faulkner — September 23, 2022

Thoughts on Leadership by Scott Faulkner — August 26, 2022

Greetings from New York City! by Scott Faulkner — July 29, 2022

H. Elizabeth Lenz  by Scott Faulkner — July 1, 2022

A Thousand Blended Notes  by Scott Faulkner — June 3, 2022

Music Not to be Missed in May  by Scott Faulkner — May 6, 2022

Classical Music Galore  by Scott Faulkner — April 8, 2022

Chord Changes by Scott Faulkner — April 1, 2022

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