Kassia Music concert promises modern works
CHESTERTOWN — Easy listening and classical aren’t words always found together. But music that’s easy on the ears is the goal of Kassia Music, an ensemble that will perform in the National Music Festival’s Resonance series.
The concert begins at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13, at St. Paul’s Church, Kent, located at 7579 Sandy Bottom Road outside Chestertown.
“The idea is to play music that everyone can grasp and enjoy from the start. But we’ll put in a few bits of subtlety or complexity for the connoisseur,” said Sam Post, pianist and a founder, in a news release.
Kassia Music can be sure to add those bits because much of their program will be their original and recent compositions, the release states.
“For many people, modern classical means really difficult stuff — experimental, dissonant and atonal,” Post said. Not so with Kassia Music, six instrumentalists based in the Washington, D.C. area.
Some of Post’s works, and those of co-leader Bernard Vallandingham, include piano ragtime and simple, folk-like melodies.
“Listeners have said our slower sections remind them of traditional English tunes like Scarborough Fair,” Post said. There also is a clear preference for happy rhythms in the group’s faster choices.
The concert will take place near a warming fireplace, and complimentary light refreshments will be served at intermission.
January’s performance will lead off with a work by Prokofiev that’s recognizable to many, “Overture on Hebrew Themes,” and the composer’s “String Quartet No. 2.” British critic Alan Coady has called the overture “the pinnacle of Klezmer music highlighted by a charming bittersweet theme.”
Next comes Post’s “Clarinet Quintet on Hebrew-ish Themes.” That doesn’t mean five clarinets but indicates that clarinetist Lauren Geist plays a major role in this number along with the strings of Elizabeth Adams, a National Music Festival violin mentor; Suzanna Mendlow, cello; Adina Vallandingham, violin; Bernard Vallandingham, viola; and Post on piano.
The final works are by Bernard Vallandingham: “Suite for Violin, Viola, Clarinet & Piano” with a tarantella as its third movement, followed by his “Sextet for Clarinet, Strings and Piano.”
Members of the group have played nationally, including at the Kennedy Center and Capitol Hill in Washington, in Chicago, the Cape Cod Ragtime Festival and at a Bach-themed event in New York City.
A Post composition performed last summer at the NMF was recently adapted for and performed by the San Francisco Symphony. Though organized less than three years ago, Kassia Music will soon release its first CD.
Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for students with ID and children under 14. NMF 2019 Combination Pass holders are guaranteed admission to all of this season’s Resonance performances — and all ticketed events of the 2019 National Music Festival, June 2 to 15, which will include more than 35 concerts ranging from small ensembles to symphony orchestra with chorus, plus 200 free open rehearsals.
Following the Jan. 13 perfor- mance, the Resonance series, formerly known as Kent Chamber Music, will continue with the following three Sunday concerts, all at 3 p.m. at St. Paul’s:
Feb. 17 — Miles Hoffman, viola, American Chamber Players, music commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition
March 24 — Karen Slack, soprano, international opera singer
April 28 – Gwen Krosnick, cello, NMF mentor
For more information about the National Music Festival and Resonance, visit nationalmusic.us.
Though organized less than three years ago, Kassia Music aims to bring classical music to a modern world with original music and covers. The group will perform as part of the Resonance concert series at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13 at St. Paul’s, Kent outside Chestertown.