Astral Artists usually ends its season with something special. This year, it’s a showcase for nine of its string players. The concert will open with one of the best-loved items in the repertoire: Brahms’ second string sextet. The grand climax will be a nonet (a piece for two string quartets and a double bass) by Finnish composer Olli Mustonen. The middle item will be Sibelius’s “Voices Intimate” quartet, a piece that shows off the quieter aspects of the strings in the form of personal exchanges between the instruments.
Olli Mustonen is a composer whose work reflects a deep interest in Baroque music, combined with styles that include 19th-century Romanticism and 20th-century minimalism. His nonet bounces between the eras, with a romantic slow movement and two high-speed contrapuntal movements modeled on Baroque music.
Astral Artists is a Philadelphia organization that selects promising young musicians and gives them career guidance and performance opportunities. The performers who survive its auditions receive a career boost from the mere fact that they’ve been selected, given the national reputation Astral has acquired. Astral’s Center City concert series has become a high-priority item on the calendars of most of the knowledgeable concertgoers in the city.
Astral Artists will present String Consort: Brahms, Sibelius and Mustonen on Saturday, May 4, at 7:30pm at the Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square. Tickets are $22 general admission, $18 seniors, and $5 students (30 and under with ID) and they’re available online, by phone (215) 735-6999, and at the door. The church is wheelchair accessible by way of a ramp in the breezeway between the Rittenhouse Hotel and the church. Upon arrival, make yourself known to an usher at the church entrance on the square and they will assist you.