St. Martin in the Fields at Carpenter Performing Arts Center

St.MartinThe Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, an octet string configuration straight out of London to perform works by Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg and Felix Mendelssohn, will take the stage at The Carpenter Performing Arts Center at Cal State University, Long Beach on Saturday, May 9 at 8:00PM.  

Formed in 1958 by a group of leading musicians in London, the Academy gave its first performance in its namesake church without a conductor on November 13, 1959. The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble was created in 1967 to perform larger chamber works with players who customarily work together. Drawn from the principal players of the orchestra the Chamber Ensemble will play at the Carpenter Center as a string octet.

Violinist Tomo Keller will lead the ensemble and perform, as well. The octet will feature violists, Fiona Bonds and Robert Smissen, violinists Martin Burgess, Jennifer Godson, Harvey de Souza and cellists Stephen Orton and Will Schofield.

The performance will be preceded at 7:00PM with an informative talk by classical music radio announcer and producer Rich Capparela. A short discussion of the evening’s repertoire and a history of the revered ensemble will be presented in this concise discussion. Capparela’s presentation is made possible by the Carpenter Center’s Arts for Life initiative, which brings free performing arts events to the community throughout the year.

According to the Carpenter Center, Washington Post Classical music critic Stephen Brookes described the ensemble as “a modern musical icon, its name synonymous with impeccable musicianship, irreproachable British taste and performances so polished that they fairly gleam.”

The Academy will open the performance with Strauss’ Sextet from Capriccio, heard at the opening of the composer’s last opera, completed in 1941, where the violins, violas and cellos accompany the scene as the central character, a Countess, resides in her salon.

Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht (“Transfigured Night”), a dramatic piece considered controversial when it was written in 1905, is based on the poem by Richard Dehmel, who describes a couple walking beneath bright moonlight, discussing the tribulation of a complicated pregnancy.  

According to Steven Lacoste, archivist at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Schoenberg wrote in a letter to Drehmel dated December 13, 1912, “For your poems have had a decisive influence on my development as a composer. They were what first made me try to find a new tone in the lyrical mood. Or rather, I found it even without looking, simply by reflecting in music what your poems stirred up in me.”

This moody and fluttering piece is often credited as the world’s first programmatic chamber music, according to The Carpenter Center.   

Mendelssohn’s “Octet” was written when the composer was barely 16 years of age and was praised by critic Conrad Wilson who wrote that “its youthful verve, brilliance and perfection make it one of the miracles of nineteenth-century music.”   

To purchase tickets for the performance, click here or call the Carpenter Center Ticket Office at (562) 985-7000. Single tickets start at $55.

The Carpenter Center at CSULB is located at 6200 E. Atherton St.

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