chamber music

color photo of Zoom screen with 10 peoples' faces
Chamber Music Connection / Courtesy of Chamber Music Connection

The intimacy of chamber music inspires passion – three or four musicians playing their hearts out together for an audience.

So when the statewide pandemic shutdown separated musicians and audience members alike, one local group of chamber music enthusiasts didn’t get mad. Instead, they got virtual.

color photo of Jeff Myers and Siwoo Kim playing violins
publicity photo / Courtesy of Jeffrey Myers and Siwoo Kim

Many folks these days are finding ways to be productive while sheltering at home. New York City residents Jeffrey Myers and Siwoo Kim escaped New York’s COVID-19 crisis and headed to Columbus, where they made their time in self-quarantine count.


St. John’s Episcopal Church in Worthington is a lovely sanctuary. I’ve enjoyed attending church there over the years.

If you go up there on a (non-quarantine) Friday afternoon you’ll hear music as soon as you pull in to the parking lot. A lot of music. That’s because St. John’s on a Friday afternoon is the home of the Chamber Music Connection, begun years ago by the wonderful Deborah Barrett Price.

color photo of Calidore String Quartet
publicity photo /

You could travel the world and spend thousands of dollars and lots of time in airport lobbies to hear the world’s top chamber ensembles perform. Or you could stay right here in Columbus and go to the concerts on the Chamber Music Columbus series.

color photo of Sharon Isbin with guitar
J. Henry Fair /

"It’s like a lovefest."

That’s how Grammy Award-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin describes her collaboration with the world-renowned Pacifica Quartet.

"We feel a real kinship with each other."

That kinship formed during the summer of 2016, when the quartet performed with Isbin on her annual recital at the Aspen Music Festival. Since then, Isbin and the quartet have toured together and, most recently, have recorded Souvenirs of Spain & Italy (Cedille Records), a collection of works for guitar and string quartet by Italian and Spanish composers.

color photo of vioinist Rebecca Willie and percussionist Eric Willie in performance
Bill Broadway /

A marimbist, a cellist with a boom box and two double bassists walk into a bar.

No, not the setup for a joke. Instead, the overview of an offbeat classical music series, one created by members of one of Columbus’ top classical music performing organizations as a new musical offering for the city.

color photo of Colin Maier holding two instuments and doing the splits on two chairs

A classical music concert is often like a meal – appetizer, main course, side dishes and, if you’re lucky, some scrumptious dessert at the end. But at concerts of the eclectic classical chamber ensemble Quartetto Gelato, you get to skip the meal and go straight to dessert.

You might still be reeling from the crazy crosswinds that blew through central Ohio last weekend. But recently a totally different kind of breeze blew through the Classical 101 studio when the Columbus-based Tower Duo offered up a sneak peek of its debut recording, Crosswind.

If music be the food of love, then you'll probably need something to drink with it. 

color photo of Maren Montalbano and Melissa Dunphy

A young Norse woman dresses up as a man, sails to the distant island where her ancestors are buried and demands that her dead father hand over a powerful sword as her birthright.

No, it’s not a role-playing game. It’s Philadelphia-based composer Melissa Dunphy’s Hervararkviða​, or The Incantation of Hervor, a set of three songs for mezzo-soprano, violin and harp whose texts tell a story as unusual as the sound-world Dunphy’s score creates for it.

color photo of local composer Richard Jordan Smoot sitting at the piano
Joy Kollmer /

It’s always exciting when a project comes to fruition. And when that project has both local and international ties, it becomes especially cool.

This week The American Sound is proud to feature Seize the Day, the brand-new album of music by Columbus composer Richard Jordan Smoot, with performances by the Carpe Diem String Quartet, international clarinet soloist Richard Stoltzman and other artists.

color photo of David Thomas playing his clarinet
David Thomas

Wednesday evening, two of Columbus’ own will perform the world premiere of 10 new musical masterpieces—and Columbus gets to see and hear it first.

In a concert called “Jeanjean on the Rocks,” David Thomas, principal clarinetist of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and pianist Mariko Kaneda will play 10 of French composer Paul Jeanjean’s 18 Études de Perfectionnement (1927) for clarinet with brand-new piano accompaniments commissioned by Thomas and composed by Philadelphia-based composer Joseph Hallman.

color photo of the members of Monarch Brass standing outdoors and holding their instruments
Jan Duga /

“The monarch butterfly is fragile and yet can fly 2,000 miles to get from point A to point B,” said Susan Slaughter, former principal trumpeter with the St. Louis Symphony, in a recent phone interview. “It’s beautiful to look at, and the sound that we want to make is a beautiful sound.”

As the first woman ever appointed principal trumpet in a major American orchestra, Slaughter knows all too well how far point A can be from point B for many aspiring professional women brass musicians. She founded the International Women’s Brass Conference and Monarch Brass to help women brass instrumentalists on their sometimes treacherous journeys in the profession.

color photo of the members of Genghis Barbie with their horns
Spencer Lloyd /

It’s 2009, and the Great Recession is draining bank accounts and devouring dreams everywhere. In New York City, four freelance French horn players suddenly find themselves out of work and wondering what to do next.

“It kind of came to me in this random moment—I was like, ‘Oh, my God, we have to have a horn quartet with these four people and play pop music.’” 

color photo of the feet of the members of Stiletto Brass - all in red high-heeled shoes

"I think there are some assumptions about the ability of a female brass player versus a male brass player," said Stiletto Brass Quintet hornist Misty Tolle, in a recent phone interview, "and that when you walk in as a woman, part of what you walk in with is this knowledge that you have to be that much better than the person that you’re competing against if they are a man."

Assumptions like this one are what the all-female Stiletto Brass Quintet is helping to dispel by simply existing—by being a professional women’s brass ensemble that reaches school-age and adult audiences with music ranging from classical to jazz and beyond.