The upcoming season of Musica Viva promises to be exciting and vibrant, with a group of concerts that will include wonderful guest artists, major chamber music works, and one very special program relating to Jewish music and the Holocaust. The series kicks off on Oct. 20 at the Moss Arts Center. Additional performances will be at Moss, or at the Squires Recital Salon.

The season opener, titled “A Celebration of the Grand Sextets,” will feature two string sextets that are highly enjoyed by all chamber music lovers. Brahms composed two popular sextets, with his No. 2 in G Major the more mature and complex of the two. Tchaikovsky, on the other hand, composed only one sextet for strings, titled “Souvenir of Florence,” which is a tribute to the memories of a long and wonderful time the composer spent in Switzerland, France and Italy in the 1870s. He started to compose the sextet in 1890 and finished it the next year. During that time he wrote to his brother complaining that it was hard for him to write for a group of six musicians, though he insisted that the piece would be full of life and beauty.

For this concert, Musica Viva is happy to bring back a former cello student of the Renaissance Music Academy, Kayla Herrmann, who grew up in Blacksburg and is now a professional teacher and player in New York City, as well as two guests performing for the first time on the series — violinist Gregory Lewis and violist Bethany Hargreaves — along with violist Amadi Azikiwe and cellist Benjamin Wyatt, both very familiar and loved by Musica Viva audiences.

The second concert, “Musical Expressions from the Romantic Era,” will feature guest violinist/violist Sibbi Bernhardsson and the Avanti Ensemble (David Ehrlich, violin; Benjamin Wyatt, cello; Teresa Ehrlich, piano). Sibbi has been a guest of Musica Viva twice in the past: the first time, several years ago, as a member of the renowned Pacifica Quartet, and the second time in a more recent Musica Viva series. This program will feature several very popular works: Sibbi will play Dvořák’s Romantic Pieces for violin and piano with Teresa Ehrlich; the Avanti ensemble will perform Dvořák’s “Dumky” piano trio; and finally audiences will hear the beautiful Piano Quartet by Schumann.

For “Music for the Heart and Soul,” our third concert, guest artists Wanchi Huang, violinist, and Victoria Chiang, violist, both wonderful musicians already familiar to our audiences, will be joined by the Avanti Ensemble to perform Schubert’s String Trio in B flat Major. Schubert composed two trios in B flat Major; the earlier one has only one movement, but this, the D.581, is a full-length trio, a very special work not performed as often as the other. The program will also include Dvořák’s Bagatelles, and the great Piano Quintet by Brahms.

The fourth concert, “Musical Mosaic,” will bring back Blacksburg native Elizabeth Jeanne Schumann, a brilliant pianist beloved by our audiences, who is excited to return for this concert. The other very special guests are double bass player Samuel Suggs, who has been part of our series before, and first-timers Yevgeniy Dovgalyuk, violinist, and Luca Trombetta, violist. This program will include piano and string duets, Mozart’s Piano Quartet and Glinka’s Grand Sextet for Piano and Strings.

Our season finale, the very emotional “Holocaust Memorial Concert,” will be dedicated to Jewish music and music composed during the Holocaust. Through a Powerpoint presentation of drawings, photos, videos and poetry readings, and the music of composers who would undoubtedly have been the future of classical music had they survived, the program will describe Terezin, a special concentration camp in what is now the Czech Republic, the purpose of the camp and how it evolved. David Yang, an excellent violist from Philadelphia who has played our series before, will be joined by the Avanti Ensemble.

Tickets for performances at the Moss Arts Center are $25 for adults, $7 for youth (3-18) and $15 for students with a valid ID. Tickets for shows at the Squires Recital Salon are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

For ticket information, please visit our website

Submitted by David Ehrlich

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