For more than 30 years, the Auditorium Chamber Music Series has been bringing some of the world’s top small musical ensembles to the University of Idaho campus.“It’s very unusual for a town the size of Moscow to host people like this,” said Leonard Garrison, a music professor at the university who has been directing the series for the past two years.
Normally, Garrison said, people would have to travel to Seattle or New York to hear musicians of this caliber. Instead, donations from individuals and businesses, as well as grants from organizations like the Idaho Commission on the Arts and Western States Arts Federation brings the music to the region.
“We try to give our audience a variety of things,” he said.
In an effort to fill the hall for each concert, every season provides a range of musical styles and sounds, from traditional to contemporary — and, often, a blend of the two.
Their 2018-19 season begins Tuesday and features the following ensembles:
London Handel Players
London is “a hotbed of Baroque performance,” Garrison said, and this group doesn’t just play the music — it brings the dancers too. Alongside flute, violins, harpsichord and other instruments, two dancers in period dress will perform traditional court dances from the 17th and 18th centuries. Baroque music was dance music, and dance was central to court life, Garrison explained. Nobility would spend hours learning and perfecting their moves so as not to make a public blunder. Audiences can expect to hear music by Handel and Bach as well as some less familiar French composers of the day.
American Brass Quintet
Described by Garrison as the premier brass quintet in the world, American Brass Quintet members are artists in residence at the Juilliard School in New York City. With a long history of commissioning new work, they play a mixture of traditional and new pieces. As an all-brass ensemble, they have a sound that’s different from most ensembles, Garrison said.
The JACK Quartet is one of the top quartets in the world, with frequent mentions in the New York Times and New Yorker, Garrison said, known for their “adventurous programming.” Many 20th- and 21st-century composers create complex music, Garrison explained, with lots of notes and rhythms that are difficult to play, even for the best musicians. These are the type of pieces the JACK Quartet takes on, in what ends up being an interesting and unexpected music set. The ensemble also is doing a brief residency program during its visit that will get members out into the community, playing at different venues and participating in the Palouse Chamber Music Workshop.
A well-known piano trio — piano, violin and cello — Trio Solisti plays traditional chamber music that includes pieces by Brahms, Haydn and Dvorak among others.
An acapella vocal ensemble of eight men, Cantus features a wide vocal range, from deep bass to countertenor, which is equivalent to a female vocal range. Based in Minneapolis-St. Paul, the group presents a wide range of music styles. Audience members will hear pop songs from the Beatles alongside classical and newly commissioned pieces.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT & WHEN:
London Handel Players (co-presented with Festival Dance and the Idaho Bach Festival), 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
American Brass Quintet, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13
Jack Quartet, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24
Trio Solisti, 7:30 p.m. March 5
Cantus, 7:30 p.m. April 23
WHERE: University of Idaho Auditorium, Administration Building, University of Idaho campus, Moscow
COST: $25, $10/students, $20/seniors 60 and older, free youth tickets for ages 6 to 12 are available with the purchase of one general admission ticket; tickets are available for purchase online at auditoriumseries.org, at BookPeople in Moscow or at the door; ticket subscriptions are available.