Creating a MOSAIC

Our concert this week is called “MOSAIC”. Every piece on the program is by an American, and each piece truly unique.  We’re really excited about the blend of old and new on this program and the breathtaking variety of style. From traditional classical, modernist mastery, jazz, blues and folk – it’s all in here! Learn a little more about the music from the musicians themselves in this post.

October 19, 8:00 pm
The Chapel Venue – tickets include 2 drinks.
$10 in advance, $15 at the door. Online ticket purchase click here.

October 24, 7:30pm
Chamber Music Series
Danforth University Center, Washington University – in the Goldberg Formal Lounge

Jennifer Gartley, flute
Dana Hotle, clarinet
Adrianne Honnold, saxophone
Elizabeth Ramos, violin
Laura Reycraft, viola
Stephanie Hunt, cello
Christopher Haughey, bass

JOAN TOWER Petroushskates (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano)


Tower was inspired by the great ballet by Igor Stravinsky (L). Here he is with his “Petroushka”, the  choreographer and dancer, Najinsky. Scary Clown?

Dana “I about fell out of my chair the first time I heard Petroushskates I loved it so much. It is so colorful and vibrant. Joan achieves these bright, shimmering, brilliant colors with just these 5 instruments, almost exactly the same colors the composer Stravinsky gets with a full orchestra. Stravinsky’s famous ballet, Petroushka, is one of her sources of inspiration for this unique piece. The other source, figure skating, seems completely at odds with her first source: an iconic ballet by a Russian master, but somehow, she makes it work! I love the tension that these two seemingly unrelated ideas create in this short piece. I’m excited to finally play music by Joan Tower, one of the great American composers of the 20th Century, and one of the first female composers to really “make it”. She was the Conductor in Residence at the St. Louis Symphony in the ’80s, so she has this great St. Louis connection as well.”

Jennifer “The Tower never lets up, I can never stop counting even for a second. In practicing this work, the rhythmic element is just so challenging, but the effect should be a mix of the ultra complicated coupled with a feeling of effortlessness… which doesn’t completely make sense until you hear it.”

AARON COPLAND Piano Variations (solo piano)


Aaron Copland, the “Dean of American Music”. After the Piano Variations, he went on to compose his “populist” hits like Appalachian Spring and Hoedown.

This is not your everyday piece of music. This is not your everyday composer. One of the most popular American composers of all time, you get to hear a side of Copland you may not have heard before in his Piano Variations (1930). This piece put him on the map as a very serious artist. This music is “ART” in the highest sense of the word. It falls into the category of “Modernism”, which basically means a style of music in which a composer is trying to break out of the traditional ways of using melody, harmony and rhythm, often times failing to create anything lasting. But not Aaron, he succeeds brilliantly. This music is bracing and angular, representing the incredible changes in society in the early to mid 20th century. Think machines, technology, urbanism – expressed in a very elegant and concise vocabulary. We’ve rented a brand spanking new Yamaha Concert Grand piano for this concert, and Nina is going to show you everything it can do with the Copland!

MASON BATES Life of Birds (flute, clarinet, violin, cello)

Here is Mason, doing his thing with an orchestra. Our piece is acoustic.

Jennifer “I have been intrigued by Mason Bates for a few years and I first heard about him in his role with the New World Symphony in creating these really cool electronica/classical crossover concerts that were held in clubs late night. After a little bit of research, I found that he also composed acoustic works and this work just seemed to fit perfectly with our programming. I like his approach to narrative within a work, and even though flute players sometimes get a little tired of being compared to birds, this new approach by Bates really caught my interest. I can’t wait to play this, it has been on my wish list for a couple of years.”

Dana “Life of Birds is amazing. It’s playful, jazzy, modern and soulful all at the same time. we had a blast rehearsing it at a Very Open Rehearsal at STLCC last week!”

Mason is on Facebook and Twitter (follow links to connect with him)


EVAN CHAMBERS  Come Down Heavy (violin, saxophone, piano)

The saxophone part to Come Down Heavy – looks awesome!

Adrianne “Evan Chambers, the composer of Come Down Heavy, is a contemporary American composer and a traditional Irish fiddler. As you might imagine, he often unites the contemporary and the traditional in his music, and Come Down Heavy is no exception. The piece starts out with a blues-styled line in the saxophone part but quickly evolves into a more avant-garde imagining of the melody utilizing the extended range of the saxophone and rhythmic complexity in the ensemble as a whole. At one point the instruction to the performers in the score says “Cataclysmic”, which I’ve never seen in a piece of music!

Throughout the first movement, the piece goes back and forth between these bluesy folk tune melodies and a more modern representation of those melodies. The second and third movements of the piece are more traditional, with the second movement featuring a beautiful melody performed by the fiddle and the third movement featuring the saxophone. Finally, the fourth movement, “Drill Ye Tarriers” employs different types of dance forms and ends with a frenzied flourish in the form of a tarantella. [a tarantella is an old Italian dance form that has to do with spiders, you can read about it here] Throughout the piece Chambers uses traditional Irish, Scottish and even Italian folk ideas, a nod to both his own heritage and to the varied heritage of America.  This piece can get pretty wild, but just keep listening! You’re never far from another folk tune. ”

GEORGE GERSHWIN “Someone to Watch Over Me” (saxophone, string quintet)
An American Classic, sweetly arranged for sax and strings. Check out this beautiful rendition by the incredible Ella Fitzgerald.

This program is presented in partnership with The American Arts Experience, and partially funded by The Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.


STLCC Students ROCK!

by Dana – be sure to scroll down!

The St. Louis Community College has invited us to present a Very Open Rehearsal on their Meramec Campus on Friday Oct. 12. We are thrilled to be involved with this young energetic community. Dr. Jerry Myers, Director of Choral Actives/Assistance Professor of Music at STLCC says,

It is a goal of the STLCC Meramec Music Department to expose our students to quality musical experiences, whether in the classroom, rehearsal, or through guest artists. While it is important for our students to see performances by professional musicians, our focus is on teaching students the process of learning music. The Very Open Rehearsal allows us to exposes our students to professional musicians, but also gives the students the opportunity to witness a professional-level rehearsal. Further, our students will be able to interact with these musicians and discuss the rehearsal process with the guest artists. I cannot think of a better music education experience!

We can’t either, and we’re excited about being on campus on Oct. 12th at noon! This event is free and open to everyone. It’s in Humanities West, Room 102, which is across the hall from the Theater. Please join us!

As part of this project, we asked Micheal Swoboda’s STLCC Graphic Design class to create posters for this event in a unique cross-discipline collaboration. We are thrilled with the results! Do you have a favorite? We could pick one so we printed a few of each!

One-Week Design Challenge
Chamber Project event Posters
24˝ x 36˝ ; typeface: Gil Sans
Working in groups of three and using the supplied text—
research the mission of the organization, listen to the style
of music to be performed, and conceptualize multiple ideas
to create one or more dynamic posters that will entice the 
community to attend the event.
Graphic Design 1 and II, Monday / Wednesday 6:00 pm to 8:50 pm
Class Participants
John Chihak
Karrie Columbus 
Chris Conant
Blake Estes
Emily Feldewerth
David Harris
Adam Scott 
Carly Troxell
Willa Allen
Merrick Felder 
Brian Grass 
Irfan Mirza      
Steven Nash
Ashley Schepers 
Peggy Triska
Michael Swoboda, instructor

October by the Interval

It’s October, it’s fall, it’s a great time of year.  The weather has been fantastic, and the arts are in full swing here in the ‘Lou.  Here at Chamber Project, we’re really excited about our biggest month of the season!

Our kick off concert in September was fantastic. We had a packed house and a great performance. We’re keeping the energy up with three events in October! We are really excited about our October program, called “MOSAIC”, for many reasons.

First of all, the music is fantastic. This is an all American program, and truly brings together the past and the future of music in America. More on the Music in a post coming soon.

Second, WE GOT OUR FIRST GRANT to help fund these events! Thank you to the Missouri Arts Council (a state agency) for the funding! (Yes, I’m supposed to say “a state agency” in conjunction with “Missouri Arts Council”, those are the rules.) It’s a small Project Grant to help cover costs and aid in some marketing for all three events (2 concerts, one VOR) in October. It’s awesome to get our first grant, hopefully the first of many!

Third, we are participating in The American Arts Experience with our October 19 concert  (at The Chapel) along with some of the best arts organizations in town. Our September concert at The Chapel almost sold out  – so get your tickets early! (click here)

Fourth, The St. Louis Community College has invited us to present a Very Open Rehearsal at their Meramec Campus on at noon on Friday October 12. We are really excited about engaging with this vibrant student population. One of the STLCC design classes is working on poster(s) for the VOR – we’ll share them here when we get them! It is open to the public, and free – so come on out.

Fifth, Our MOSAIC program features Adrianne Honnold, (saxophone). She teaches at Washington University and they’ve asked her to bring us back to the DUC Chamber Music Series on Wednesday October 24. 

Sixth, We’ve got this awesome poster we’re putting up around town – look for it.

Mosaic Poster

Featuring Lady Liberty, our poster for Mosaic brings all our themes together.

Seventh. Well, I just wanted to get to seven so I could introduce this cool website where you can listen to the Musical Intervals, which are labled as ‘seconds’, ‘thirds’, ‘fourths’ and on up to ‘sevenths’.  Intervals are the distance (low to high) between notes. As I made this list, I was thinking about the intervals. Most people don’t know about intervals in music, but now you do. Some intervals get along, they’re “consonant”, others disagree, they’re “dissonant”. Which ones are which? Can you tell? Our MOSAIC program uses some very interesting combinations. Goof off for a moment and enjoy this site!

We’ll have more about our MOSAIC program, and each of the events coming up in October soon!

There’s a BEAR on STAGE!

A short photo essay by Dana.

We kicked off our season this past Friday to a packed house at The Chapel!

We began the day with rehearsal at 10:00am. We hadn’t seen each other since our marathon weekend of rehearsing Labor Day weekend. Two weeks without rehearsal is an eternity to musicians, but that’s the way it worked out this time. We came into The Chapel to rehearse and found this:


Why was there a giant bear playing the piano Jerry Lee Lewis style on stage? We have no idea, but we took it as a good omen.

We moved the bear to a more comfortable listening position, and commenced rehearsal.

Bear under piano

The bear was onstage for the entire concert – at least one audience member noticed and “voted” that the bear be present for the Audience Choice Concert in June!

We had a few visitors stop by during rehearsal – one took some shots for us.

Rehearsing Beethoven

Rehearsing Beethoven Septet. From L to R: Kyle Lombard, Laura Reycraft, Antonio Innaimo, Chris Haughey, Tricia Jostlein, Melissa Mackey, Dana Hotle


A nice shot of Kyle, Tony and Chris during rehearsal.

After rehearsal we got the chairs arranged for the concert. One of my favorite things is being in a venue when it’s empty and know how transformed the space will be in just a few hours time.

setting up

Pre-concert. The quiet before the storm. We had 65 chairs, plus the extra seating on the sides and in the back – and we ended up with standing room only!

We had record online ticket sales – and many more who braved the crazy traffic (we heard they closed Hampton it got so busy!) to make it to the concert.

The concert gets underway!


Laura and Adrianne performing the Hilary Tann “Duo”.


Dana, Tony, Chris, Tricia and Melissa performing Serenata-Invano.


A nice pic of Kyle before the Beethoven. The Beethoven has a huge violin part with dozens of blazing fast passages, and Kyle knocked it out of the park.

The audience loved it – we got an enthusiastic “Standing O”.

Standing O

It feels great to know the audience enjoyed themselves – it’s the whole reason we do this!

Standing O2

You get a feel for the power of this small space in this shot. It’s really an amazing venue!

Did you notice the bear during the concert? We think he enjoyed it too.

Thanks to everyone at The Chapel for volunteering their time to make this event happen! It was a spectacular way to kick off our season!


We kick off our 2012-2013 season this Friday with a program we’re calling “Youth”.  Here’s a little post about the music and the musicians, and what the musicians think about the music.


Youth Poster

The poster for Youth – have you seen it around town?

R. STRAUSS      Till Eulenspiegel – Einmal Anders!
TANN                 Duo
NIELSEN            Serenata-Invano
BEETHOVEN      Septet Op. 20

Till Eulenspiegel is one of Richard Strauss’ most famous works for full orchestra. It musically tells the story of Till Eulenspiegel – The Merry Prankster of German folklore which dates back to the Middle Ages. Till stirs up trouble in a market, harasses the monks, flirts with the ladies and mocks the academics – until he gets caught. This clever arrangement (Einmal Anders means, ‘Another Way”) for quintet (violin, clarinet, horn, bassoon and double bass) captures the very essence of Stauss’ original composition.

Laura and Adrianne will be performing Hilary Tann’s Duo which directly contrasts the playful boisterous Till with smooth long lines weaving between the viola and the haunting sound of the soprano saxophone. The “youngest” piece on the program provides an intimate encounter with these two instruments.

Carl Nielsen’s Serenata-Invano (Serenade in Vain) tells the story of youthful love. A young man hires a band to serenade his love – I won’t give away the end by telling you what happens.

After intermission (time to grab another beverage!) we bring seven musicians to the stage to play the amazing Septet by perhaps the most famous of all composers, Beethoven.  Beethoven was bursting onto the scene as a young man (19!) when he wrote this joyful, energetic music. Featuring the violin, the Septet is rounded out by 3 more stings; viola, cello and bass, and contrasted with clarinet, bassoon and horn. It sounds like a small orchestra!


Kyle Lombard, violin

Kyle Lombard, violin

When asked what his favorite piece on the program was, Kyle said “So, if I had to say my favorite piece, it’d be the Strauss…because it gives our listener a taste of what his coloring for full orchestra was like, without the 90 piece ensemble. Music which provides entertaining characters that the audience can easily recognize is just purely more enjoyable for both performer and listener alike.”

We’ve given Kyle about 10,000 notes to learn for this program, and every one sounds brilliant. Kyle is from Kansas City, and has lived on this side of the state for quite some time.

Dana Hotle, clarinet

Dana Hotle, clarinet

Dana says this about Youth, “I am really excited about this program! The combination of pieces is just fantastic. They’re all really fun to play, and I know the audience is going to love it. The Beethoven just sparkles with positive energy. The Nielsen is new to me, and the first time I heard it I couldn’t believe how beautiful the combination of clarinet, bassoon, horn, cello and double bass were. There is a moment in the middle where it slows down, and it’s just gorgeous.”

Dana is a co-Artistic Director for Chamber Project and is a hometown girl. If you’re lucky you’ll meet most of her family at this concert.

Tricia Jostlein, horn

Tricia Jostlein, horn

Tricia is playing with us for the first time. She’s a recent transplant to St. Louis – so be sure to welcome her! She says this, “I’m particularly excited to play Till Eulenspiegel-Einmal Anders.  It’s pretty incredible that five instruments, through shear force of personality, can carry a piece originally written for a huge orchestra.  This is a wonderful ensemble of players and we’ve had a lot of fun putting this concert together.”

What she doesn’t tell you is that Till Eulenspiegel begins with one of the most famous horn melodies ever written – she basically kicks off the concert and sets the stage for the musically hilarity that follows.

Adrianne Honnold, saxophoneAdrianne Honnold, recently back from touring Europe with the St. Louis Symphony, has this to say about the Hilary Tann Duo, “This piece has three different moods that make for an interesting journey; plaintive, aggressive and hopeful.”

Adrianne performed at the World Saxophone Conference this summer in Scotland – she had quite an amazing trip! (Take a close look at her hands during her performance, there’s something new on one of them…)

Melissa Mackey, bassoon

Melissa Mackey, bassoon

Melissa Mackey returns to perform with us for a second season. Melissa suggested we play the Beethoven Septet, it’s one of her favorite pieces to play.  Melissa is the Associate Professor of Bassoon and Music History at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She wrote a short blog post about the Beethoven Septet on her own blog – check it out!

The bassoon is featured quite a bit in this program. It’s a great chance to check out this very unusual, and very cool instrument. Melissa’s bassoon is over 100 years old!

Tony Innaimo, cello

Antonio Innaimo, cello

Antonio Innaimo is joining us for the first time, but if you’ve been to the MUNY , you’ve heard him play – he’s the Principal Cellist of the MUNY Orchestra! When not sweltering his summers away here in St. Louis, he lives in Florida. Tony says, “It’s such a joy to work with such consummate chamber musicians, performing such fine works!”

Laura Reycraft, viola

Laura Reycraft, viola

Laura Reycraft, co – Artistic Director of Chamber Project is back with us after a little time off last spring to be a new mom! We’re thrilled for her and happy to have her back. Here’s what she has to say about this program –

“I love playing the Beethoven-it is so fun!  The viola part alternates between accompaniment and melodic material, acting sometimes as a second violin and occasionally as a bass instrument.  The fresh energy and enthusiasm is palpable throughout the 6 movements, although I think my favorite is the last movement with its extremely serious opening and then light fast section.

The Tann has grown on me as I have learned it through listening to a recording and practicing.  The dissonance created between the two instrumental lines is complex and interesting and more melodic that I first thought.”

Christopher M. Haughey, bass

Christopher M. Haughey, bass

Christopher Haughey is joining us for the first time. He grew up here in the St. Louis area, and has recently returned to join the United States Air Force Band of Mid American located at Scott Air Force Base. They keep him busy performing in three ensembles! We’re glad he had the time to work some chamber music into his busy concert schedule!

Come to the concert and meet all of these great musicians!


September 14, 8:00 pm at The Chapel Venue
Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door (cash/check only) $4 students.
Tickets include two drinks: beer/wine/soda.
purchase tickets online here

Wine Press Concert

Di you know our violinist Hannah is a blogger? She wrote a nice little post about our concert this past Friday night, with lots of pictures!


Last night was our concert at the Wine Press that I’ve been telling you about.  I was super stressed out about it for two main reasons: I had agreed to speak about a piece, and I was playing a solo piece from memory.  However, it went fantastic (overall) and I feel SO great for having risen to the challenge.

I learned that I really love to be a comedian.  My talk was full of jokes, primarily off the cuff.  I don’t know if it was any good, but people did laugh, and honestly, I love the feeling of a room full of people laughing at me.  Wait, did that come out wrong?


Warming up at home.  My neck muscle looks pretty strained…I need to think about that.  Isn’t the dress awesome though?  I can’t wait to wear it again.


My trick was to write the music on the inside of…

View original post 171 more words


“Art forms begin to die when they become bound by tradition rather than inspired by it; when they become deaf to the shout on the street; when they grow static as contemporary life gains speed and draws away; when they  become too refined, abstract and refuse to touch the ground.” – Eddie Silva*

We couldn’t agree more. This is why we started Chamber Project. As young passionate practitioners of an old and storied art form we feel its life, vitality, and tremendous energy. We want to share this with our community – for the people and for the art form itself. We want to let people in on the depth and breadth of the emotional, intellectual and even spiritual enjoyment that Classical Music has to offer.

In a time when we are bombarded with music everywhere – at the gas station, at the grocery store, from ring tones of the person behind us in line, it seems that our ears have become less attuned and less sensitive to music. How can we, as musicians, offer music to our audience in a fresh way?  In a way that doesn’t just keep up with contemporary life, but becomes a part of it?

Inspired by the tradition of chamber music being performed in intimate social settings, we are experimenting with concert formats, and even more boldly with rehearsal formats. Opening the door for people to experience music in a personally relevant way is something we’re passionate about. So next week we offer our second Very Open Rehearsal.

Roussel Pic

Albert Roussel and his cat.

The V.O.R. is your chance to work with us as we explore music we are learning for an upcoming performance. Our first V.O.R in January was fantastic. The audience feedback during and after the event was incredible. There aren’t really any rules – we play, we rehearse, and you ask any question that comes to mind (about the music that is), and we answer it. We get feedback about what we’re doing in a truly useful way. In January, the audience helped us decide how slowly we should play the slow movement! You can watch a short video from the event at the end of this post. If you want to read a little more about what a V.O.R. is exactly you can read our post  A What? A VOR? from January.

On Wednesday March 14 Jen, Laura and Valentina will be having a Very Open Rehearsal of  Albert Roussel’s Trio in preparation for our performance at The Wine Press on March 23.

Very Open Rehearsal
Wednesday March 14, 7:00pm
The Tavern of Fine Arts
313 Belt Avenue 63112
free/free parking
all welcome

The Tavern of Fine Arts has new art on the walls this week- we can’t wait to see it, we hear it’s really amazing!

*Thanks to Eddie Silva, blogger for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for the inspiration for this post! The quote above was from “Celebrating The Ballets Russes” which I found in my SLSO program this weekend. You can read more of his writing on the SLSO blog.