If you need an extra incentive to attend the Chamber Music Society’s first concert of the summer this week, here’s one: It’s free. The tickets have all been pre-paid by Sam Feldman, whose late wife Gretchen was an avid supporter of chamber music.
“I’m trying to help her legacy in continuing the [Chamber Music Society] and making it healthy and strong,” Mr. Feldman said. “We are both very involved in our community and love to give back to this wonderful place.”
Mrs. Feldman, who served on the board of the Chamber Music Society, was also a fan of William DeRosa, a cellist who will play this week. When she died in 2008, Mr. DeRosa drove to the Island to play for her burial.
“She was so impressed and loved his playing that I wanted him to play for her,” Mr. Feldman said. “He’s a passionate cello player who puts his heart and soul into every note that he plays. He is just at one with the music.”
Mr. Feldman first sponsored a concert in 2009 to honor his wife.
“Because so many new people were exposed to the chamber [music], audiences were terrific all summer,” Mr. Feldman said. “This concert will bring in a broader, more diversified audience.”
David Rhoderick, president of the Chamber Music Society, agreed.
“We want everyone to come, but we [especially] want younger people to come,” he said “We’ve got some really interesting fun stuff for younger people.”
Chamber music concerts are always free for children and students.
“We welcome anyone that’s interested in pushing the boundaries of their musical experience,” Mr. Rhoderick said.
This week’s concert will include music by Dmitri Shostakovich, a contemporary Russian composer who wrote during the Stalin period.
“His music is very much music of the people,” said Delores Stevens, who has served as artistic director for 42 years. “You feel that turmoil, you feel what they’re going through.” Ms. Stevens also accompanies on piano.
Tim Fain, who played violin on the Black Swan film soundtrack, will play a Phillip Glass partita, which was written for him in 2011. The program also includes a Haydn and a Brahms trio. Ms. Stevens accompanies on piano.
The 2012 season features music of all kinds, said Ms. Stevens. “It’s music that’s never been heard before, the mixing of forms and new instrumentals,” as well as “contemporary pieces reinterpreting an old form with new music and new ideas.” For example, the Philip Glass solo is a modern version of an early baroque form called a chaconne.
“What’s happening is that music is stealing from itself,” Ms. Stevens said. “You might call it a classical concert, but the real meaning of classical is so specific, and that’s not what we’re talking about. Everything is getting closer together. Even rock is stealing from the classical genre.”
The summer season will show audiences how music has evolved over time and moved into the 21st century, Ms. Stevens said. This year, audiences will be treated to a variety of accomplished musicians performing new as well as legendary music. In July, Imani Winds from New York will play a piece inspired by Josephine Baker, as well as traditional klezmer music. The St. Petersburg String Quartet closes the season.
The Chamber Music Society attracts talented acts in part because the Island is a popular destination.
“They come for several days and we give them a really good experience,” Mr. Rhoderick said. “It’s probably more than a typical gig would be. Another reason is that Dee [Stevens] has a great reputation and network.”
This week’s Chamber Music Society shows are Monday, July 9, at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown, and Tuesday, July 10, at the Chilmark Community Center. Both shows begin at 8 p.m. and are free. For more information and a list of other shows this summer, visit mvcms.org or call 508-696-8055.