After two years of intensive planning, the St. Cecilia Music Center of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center launched a three-year partnership with a concert by Wu Han, Philip Setzer, and David Finckel. The performance took place before a wildly enthusiastic crowd in the stunning hall at the Music Center.
In David’s words
One of America’s great classical music stories began in the year 1883, when a group of women in Grand Rapids decided to begin a musical organization named the St. Cecilia Society, after the patron saint of music. The organization’s mission was to “promote the study and appreciation of music in all its branches” and that vision is still at work today. Initially performing for each other in their homes, the women eventually raised the funds to build the magnificent building which is now St. Cecilia’s own, and they began importing internationally renowned musicians to perform. Today, St. Cecilia offers music education and activities for musicians of all ages and abilities, as well as performances by distinguished artists.
The idea of a relationship with St. Cecilia entered my thinking when I first played there about ten years ago with the Emerson Quartet. Returning with a duo recital a couple of seasons later added fuel to the idea, especially when Wu Han laid eyes on the extraordinary hall, and after both of us had learned the Center’s inspiring history. Under the dynamic leadership of Executive Director Cathy Holbrook, the Center is thriving and expanding its vision, and CMS was there at the right moment to offer the center a seasonal selection of some of our most exciting programs from the New York stage.
A lively donor reception and dinner the evening before our concert allowed us to thank and acknowledge the contributions of all, to explain the project, and to get to know the Center’s most important supporters. As is so often the fact, this group of patrons comprises a collection of smart, passionate and dedicated people who are determined to ensure that the institution is secure and will allow our partnership to thrive. We were very impressed with all of them and look forward to building these new friendships over the residency’s three-year period.
As Philip, Wu Han and I are playing our Dvorak Trio program in Alice Tully Hall in January (as well as a substantial number of other places this season) we decided to kick the series off with this romantic program, which includes the last two great trios of Dvorak, the f minor and the “Dumky”. As an opener, Wu Han and I offered Brahms’ first sonata in e minor, which connects the many dots between Brahms and Dvorak that resulted in a great friendship and whole-hearted support of the young Czech composer by the Viennese master.
The explosive vocal greeting we received entering the stage after Cathy spoke (we can’t imagine what she must have said!) led the way to a thoroughly satisfying experience on the stage of this fantastic hall. Seating about 500, it is the perfect size and acoustic for chamber music, and we know that all our musicians from CMS will come home with rave reviews about the concert hall, the public, and the organization and its people. We look forward to the next opportunity we will have to play there –I hope it’s soon– but I am equally excited to be sending so many stellar players from the CMS roster to share in this joyful and exciting project.
Check on the Center’s many activities at www.scmc-online.org