Com­ing up in Philly Music: Beethoven, Brahms, and the Ritz Cham­ber Players

2 minute read
The Ritz Chamber Players play at the Kimmel Center this weekend. (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.)
The Ritz Chamber Players play at the Kimmel Center this weekend. (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.)

The classical music tradition is a living tradition. It’s dominated by a core repertoire that includes some of humanity’s greatest works of art, but it constantly attracts new voices and new influences. This weekend the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society is presenting two concerts that showcase both aspects of its appeal.

On Friday, internationally renowned British string ensemble Doric Quartet will present an all-Beethoven program that features two of the most time-tested works in the repertoire.

On Sunday, America’s first African American chamber ensemble, the Ritz Chamber Players, will present four pieces by African American composers and end their program with another time-tested favorite, Brahms’s second quartet for piano and string trio.

The Doric Quartet will pair one of Beethoven’s first quartets with one of his revered late masterpieces, Opus No. 130, with the monumental Grosse Fugue Beethoven originally wrote for the final movement. The Ritz Chamber Players, comprising members of several leading orchestras, will present a program that’s more instrumentally varied, with pieces that employ different combinations of flute, clarinet, piano, and strings.

The composers Ritz Chamber are representing have all made major contributions to America’s musical life. Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (1932-2004) wrote movie scores and arranged songs for singers including Harry Belafonte, in addition to composing chamber pieces and orchestral works that blended Baroque, blues, and Black folk influences with his own unique individuality. George Theophilus Walker was a pianist-composer who won a Pulitzer in 1996 and wrote over 90 pieces for orchestra, chamber groups, and choruses before he died in 2018.

The two living composers, Jonathan Bailey Holland and James Lee III, are both assembling similar careers as composers, teachers, and performers. Holland is a Curtis graduate, like Walker, and he’s recently been the composer-in-residence for the Curtis Summerfest program.

What, When, Where:

The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society will present the Doric Quartet on Friday, February 7, at 7:30pm, and then the Ritz Chamber Players on Sunday, February 9 at 3pm. Both performances are at the Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 300 South Broad Street.

Tickets are $30 and they’re available online and by phone (215) 569-8080.

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