Meet Jeff

We are excited to be presenting our first concert with a percussionist! Over a year ago we got an email from this guy introducing himself. We checked out his youtube channel and were impressed, so we working him into this really fantastic program. In fact, he has a piece all to himself!  

Jeff's story -

The way my mom tells it, my musical career started when I was 2 years old.  We'd be visiting my grandparents, and I would climb up to the piano and plunk out melodies that I had heard on the stereo or just make up my own melodies.  I got started on piano lessons a couple of years later, but was always looking forward to the 4th grade, when we got to start participating in band.  I always knew I wanted to play percussion - in fact, it was completely amazing to me that some people DIDN'T want to play percussion.  Once I started, there was no looking back.  When it came time to start thinking of careers and college majors, I couldn't imagine myself doing anything other than music.  Nothing else seemed right.

Jeff with some of his "toys".

Jeff with some of his "toys".

I got my degree in music education from Penn State University, but didn't quite feel ready to enter the work force - I wanted to really hone my skills as a performer.  So I resumed my studies at the University of Michigan, earning my master's degree in percussion performance.  After graduating, I returned to my home state of New Jersey to start my teaching career.  For three years, I worked as an elementary school band director and district percussion specialist.  I had a great time doing it, but rather quickly realized that this was not my life's calling - I wanted to work with college students, those who have made the decision to dedicate their lives to music.  So I returned to Ann Arbor and graduated with my DMA, also in percussion performance.  Upon graduating, I was fortunate enough to find employment at Lindenwood University.

Just one of the instruments Jeff will be performing on with us. This is a marimba. 

Just one of the instruments Jeff will be performing on with us. This is a marimba. 


Working at LU has been fantastic - my students and colleagues are great, and I am totally justified in choosing this career path.  I am currently the Director of Percussion Studies at the St. Charles campus, and the Director of Bands at the Belleville campus.  I am thrilled to be playing with Chamber Project STL - chamber music has always been a very important part of my musical education and career, and being able to continue that with this group means a lot to me.  The 'Weave' program features great music (although I am partial to Reich's Vermont Counterpoint, my solo debut with the group!), and I'm sure you'll love it as much as we do.  Thanks for supporting Chamber Project STL and the arts!  Please visit my website at and my YouTube channel at to see my videos and learn more about me.  

Meet Jeff at our Very Open Rehearsal on Jan 9 and hear him perform Jan 17 and 29th. Check out our concerts page for details.

What in the world is AUGENMUSIK?

Last week, we showcased a piece of music by composer Kenji Bunch that we'll be playing this month. He uses non-traditional notation to convey his musical ideas. You can read all about it here >.  

Augenmusik, or "eye music" is not at all a modern invention. Bob Chamberlin, Professor and Director of Music Theory and Musicianship at Webster Universtiy generously wrote up a little history of Augenmusik. It's amazing how different music through the ages sounds. You'll have to come to one of our three concerts next week to see how Kenji's Augenmusik sounds (it's very different from any of the examples here!)

Augenmusik: a brief introduction

The term “augenmusik”  is a German work that means literally, “eye music” or music to be appreciated visually.  Composers have been notating visually intriguing musical scores for many centuries.

Perhaps one of the most well-known examples is the chanson, “Belle, Bonne, Sage” by Baude Cordier (ca. 1380 – ca. 1440).  The musical score is shaped like a heart and has red notes to indicate rhythmic alterations.  A smaller heart made of musical notes hangs like a pendant within the musical score. See and here it here >  Baude Cordier also composed a round, “Tout par compass suy corposis” or “With a compass I was composed."   Listen to it here >

Cordier - "With a Compass I was composed."

Telemann, "Gulliver Suite"

Telemann, "Gulliver Suite"

In the 16th century, Italian madrigalists (song writers) often used different note values to indicate specific words that were either dark or light words.  For example, black notes might be used for the words “death” or “night” and whole notes and half notes to express words like “light” and pale”.  In composer Luca Marenzio’s work, “senza il mia sole” (1588), black notes are used for the phrase, “chiuser le luci” (close their eyes).”

During the Baroque period, Telemann’s “Gulliver Suite” uses meter and note values to distinguish between “Lilliputian” and “Brobdingnagian.” (The two islands in the book the music is based on.) Listen to it here >

Many recent composers (20th and 21st centuries) have composed augenmusik.  George Crumb’s composition, “Makrokosmos, Vol. I” for amplified piano, includes pieces depicting a cross, a circle and a spiral galaxy.  These shapes were chosen to indicate different signs of the zodiac.  Listen to it here >

George Crumb

George Crumb

Interview with Kenji Bunch

We're excited to be playing the music of American composer Kenji Bunch this month. We got his CD Boiling Point and fell in love with the piece Drift and decided it fit perfectly on our DREAM program  Much to our surprise, when we got the music, it was not written out in traditional notation! We thought you might like to know more about how this works, so we've put together two blog posts about AUGENMUSIK (Eye Music).

Bob Chamberlin from Webster University is going to share a short history of Augenmusik, including links to recordings in our second post, but first, we're going to hear from Kenji Bunch himself. We contacted Kenji on Facebook and asked him a few questions about his creative process with Drift.       

Drift by Kenji Bunch. All images used with permission.  

What inspired you to write a graphic score?       As a performer, I've worked with a lot of graphic notation, from my years as violist in the Flux Quartet to my time as part of the performing composer collective Ne(x)tworks, a group that specialized in music of the New York School, the avant garde movement of John Cage and his contemporaries.  Writing graphic scores seemed a natural extension of this work.

What came first, the musical ideas or the desire to use this type of notation? What's the story behind this composition? 
I was commissioned by the Spoleto USA Festival to write a trio for clarinet, viola, and piano.  For whatever reason, at the time I was working on the project, my schedule only allowed me to sit down at my desk and get to work rather late at night.  After taking the necessary time to settle down and focus, so that I was actually ready to get good work done, I would be so tired that I'd literally be falling asleep while composing the piece.  I realized that some quality musical ideas were drifting away into my subconscious mind, and if I was able to recall any of them later that night or the next day, they wouldn't be exactly the same.  

Then it occurred to me that there was potential for some interesting exploration about this notion of memory and transformation.  In essence, the material in this piece develops not through the traditional compositional tools, but through the performer's ability to recall what he or she heard earlier in the work.  Any "mistakes" in this recollection would be embraced as development of the material.  And ultimately, the piece serves as a metaphor for the process of grief, which is really a confrontation and reconciliation with the idea that memories are inherently ephemeral, and can't be preserved without some kind of inevitable alteration.

The music literally Drifts away sometimes. 

 Did you experiment with and discard different ways of writing the same material? Did you rearrange the order of the material or movements?    I actually tried valiantly to write this piece using traditional notation.  This was a commission for very accomplished performers, but not necessarily for people who would be accustomed to performing off of drawings.  I was concerned the graphic score would be a distraction that could keep the piece from being taken seriously.  Ultimately, though, I realized it was really restricting me to write the necessary bar lines and rhythms, and it ended up looking way more complicated than it sounded.

Do you use this type of notation often?      I think my first graphic scores were back in 2002, when I was writing for a band called Nurse Kaya that I had with some friends.  I've used non traditional notations a number of times since then, but probably about 85% of my music is written the normal way.

What challenges does this type of notation present to you as the composer? What rewards does it offer you as the creator of this music that traditional notation doesn't offer?      First of all, we need to recognize that every form of notation, including the standard one in use for hundreds of years, is a graphic score.  Music written down in any fashion is a graph, depicting sound frequencies (pitch) over time.  There are other variables (dynamics, articulation, etc.), but all scores are expressions of a graph.  

With this in mind, it becomes possible to see that for certain techniques, traditional notation may not always be the best choice.  What I've found with pieces like "Drift" is that the notation, while at first kind of bewildering, actually makes it a lot easier for the performers to make music.  It enables listening rather than counting, and connecting and responding with each other, rather than trying to anticipate someone else's rhythms or assert your own.  It can be very freeing.  Especially in the case of this piece, which makes room for some gently guided improvisation for the three musicians. 

Check out Kenji's website >     (and buy some of his music!)

Isn't it interesting to learn about the process behind creating music? Which of the images are you most excited to hear? Do you think you'll be able to tell what we're playing in the concert? 


We discussed how long this passage should last in rehearsal a few times. In the end, it just happens the way it happens! 

Initially this page probably scared us the most. The first time we played it it was a disaster, but it's amazing how it always works out.

We'll be performing Drift three times in November: 

We've been selling out at The Chapel Series - don't wait to get your tickets! Advance pricing and online sales end at noon on day of concert.  buy tickets now > 

You asked for a matinee concert, and you got it! Join us in this beautiful sanctuary. Free will donation suggested.  view details >

A cozy venue for a great concert.  view details >


Chamber Project ON TAP

Artistic Director and flutist Jennifer Gartley introduces our new series:


Before I moved to Saint Louis, I am going to have to admit I did not like beer. I just didn't. I mean, I was over my horrible amaretto sour stage, but beer was not at the top of my list.  But when you move to Saint Louis, you better saddle up because beer is KING.  STL is the home of Budweiser, you can walk out of your house in the city in the morning and smell the hops/seeds/barley, or whatever it is they are brewing, and know you are in the Lou.



There is a craft beer revolution going on in Saint Louis too, and it is exciting, and good for the city, and really really tasty.   Personally, I've been able to explore my tastes with my local brew masters over at the Civil Life, Urban Chestnut, Six Row, 4Hands, Schlafly... and I know I don't like the beers that taste like perfumed flowers, but I do like the stouts, and a good black ale.  And it can be a little less intimidating than wine (which is also pretty darn good, but if I'm being honest, I can't tell the difference between a Pinot Noir and a Merlot, but I pretend to).  You can learn a little but  more about the viewpoint of some of these craft breweries in the trailer for their movie here:  - but if you don't have time, it really comes down to community, and making people happy, and locally supported businesses.  What can that do for a city? A community?


Well, obviously, this sounds SO up the Chamber Project alley - all about people, connecting with our community, making St. Louis a better place to live...  But beer and classical music in a bar? Does that work?

It's happening all over the country, and our experiments with it have show a demand for it! Check out this piece on the Cleveland Orchestra in a local Cleveland bar, breaking down barriers and finding new audiences. Pretty cool, huh?

We want to bring together all that St. Louis has to offer - great music, great beer and great people, all ON TAP just for you. We are proud to partner with Schlafly Beer and 4 Hands Brewing Co. along with the Tavern of the Fine Arts to try this out this season - come and raise a glass with us,  it's going to be fun. Cheers!

Tavern of Fine Arts - OCT 23, 7:30pm
Schlafly Tap Room - JAN 29, 7:00pm
4 Hands Brewing Co. - MAY 6, 7:00pm   


This series is partly funded by The Missouri Arts Council and the Regional Arts Commission.

Season Six has a Theme!

From the get go, we've enjoyed pulling together our concerts with a theme. We could just plop together any old music we like, but where's the challenge in that? This season we've taken it to the next level, and have a theme uniting our entire concert series.

Each of our five programs this year connects in some way to theater. This idea originated when we discovered the newly discovered original score to a work by the famous Aaron Copland and built a program around it. From there we kept building our season and bit by bit realized that with we could work out a theme for our entire series! We're really excited to present our first concert in just two weeks. Rehearsals began this past weekend, and were a blast. 

Our first concert is titled DANCE, and includes the "new" work by Copland, as well as 4 tangos in some form or another!  Here's a little bit about this concert. 

Copland wrote some incidental music to a play in 1940. Quiet City was a flop as a play, so Mr. Copland took his score for quartet and arranged it for string orchestra, trumpet and English horn. You can read more about how the original scoring was recently published here in last weeks blog post. 


Keep an eye out around town for this poster! 

We built this program around Quiet City, which has the unique instrumentation of trumpet, saxophone, clarinets and piano. We added a few instruments to that ensemble to build out the program. 

The concert  begins with a short piece titled "Breakdown Tango" by American composer John Mackey which was composed to be danced to, although not as a traditional tango! It's a wild and raunchy affair that will spice up the kick off to our sixth season! 

We finish the program with another ballet score by an early 20th Century composer, Martinu. (He's Czech, but the music is all French.) La Revue de Cuisine  is about a love triangle between kitchen utensils. Yes, you read that right, kitchen utensils. Want to read more about how "Dishcloth makes eyes at Lid but is challenge to a duel by Broom?" (click here)  As you might imagine the music is delightful, playful and full of dance numbers. there's a Tango, a Charleston and a March for seven instruments. We're excited to have Dawn Weber playing trumpet with us on this piece and the Copland! Check out her website, she's got about one million cool things going on. 

At this point in the program development process, we figured we'd better add a few more dance numbers to the program to keep the theme going. Pulling in the suite of dances from Stravinsky's trio arrangement of his famous L'historie du Soldat was an easy fit (or not so easy for Kyle who has to play maybe the most difficult Tango ever written for violin), and we get to Dance with the Devil for a minute or so, which should be fun. We also threw in a slow tango by the tango master, Piazzolla, and wham, we've got a program all about theater and dance! 

So put your dancin' shoes on and join us on Sept. 6 at The Chapel for a great time! Tickets are on sale here.  

Program details are available here > 


Copland's Quiet City

This post is written by Adrianne, saxophonist and Artistic Director of Chamber Project St. Louis

We’re always searching for interesting works to program on Chamber Project St. Louis concerts.  Sometimes we have favorites in mind, or classic works of the chamber repertoire, but sometimes we want to find something new and unique to perform.  A piece by Copland would surely fall into the category of a classic or well-known work, but not in this case! 

<--Copland wrote for saxophone?! 

You can imagine our surprise when, about two years ago, we heard about a newly discovered version of Copland’s relatively well-known orchestral piece Quiet City.  It turns out that the original version of the work, which was written for a play by Irwin Shaw, was for clarinets, alto saxophone, trumpet and piano.  How perfect for Chamber Project!  Copland did not write much chamber music repertoire, so this is a very exciting discovery.  

It turns out that we have Christopher Brellochs to thank.  He was pursuing a Doctorate in saxophone at Rutgers University when his professor approached him with what turned out to be the long lost Copland score.  National Public Radio featured his story about unearthing and adapting the original work, which is how we came to know about it. 

Find out more about Copland’s Quiet City—check out the NPR interview and recordings here!

What an exciting way to start the season! Dana and I look forward to performing with Dawn Weber on trumpet and Peter Henderson on piano for this upcoming concert.  This will be Dawn’s first performance with Chamber Project St. Louis!  Come and hear the St. Louis premiere of this new classic on September 6 at the Chapel.

 Chamber Project St. Louis presents DANCE
September 6, 8:00 PM
The Chapel Venue

MACKEY Breakdown Tango
COPLAND Quiet City
STRAVINSKY Four Dances from The Soldier’s Tale for Trio
MARTINU La Revue de Cuisine

Purchase tickets here 

Meet Laura

On Saturday we present our Fourth Annual Audience Choice Concert. Laura, founding member and Artistic Director of Chamber Project, shares her choices in this blog post about her path in music.

I did not grow up in a musical household, but my parents wanted me to try a variety of activities, so I did. I took years of dance classes, figure skating lessons, and even played team sports. It was all fun. However, when I began playing the viola in 4th grade, at James Madison Elementary in Colorado Springs, I was hooked. My parents provided me with many opportunities, and music was the obvious choice for me to focus on.

Posing for a picture before my tap recital. This was one of my favorite costumes.

With Ms. Johnson and some of the members of "Strings 'R Us". That's me on the right with the rolled jeans.

   I had an incredible elementary strings teacher, Ms. Linda Johnson. Her class was delightful, learning was never laborious. She gave me extra lesson time and additional music to work on so that I would continue to be challenged. Ms. Johnson kept it light and funny. She named the string program “Strings ‘R Us”. One of our concerts was entitled “An Anesthetic Experience”. If you must know, 50 beginners playing a variety of string instruments is not what most would label as soothing, but our parents appreciated the sarcasm.

Me, holding my brother Matt with my sister Mandy. "Lessons" would begin soon...

I would spend hours practicing my orchestra part, perfecting it passage by passage. I encouraged my younger siblings to play string instruments and then as I was clearly the “expert”, I gave them private lessons. This, of course, did not go well. Tears were shed and lessons ended abruptly. I just wanted them to have as much fun as I did playing music! I choose to continue with music, they, in spite of their “lessons” with me, did not. 

I entered The Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) thinking I would love to be a professional chamber musician. I was really into chamber music and had just finished a great summer at The Olympic Music Festival playing string quartets. However, CIM is known for its orchestral training and affiliation with The Cleveland Orchestra, so after my four years there, I was convinced that I wanted a job in the viola section of an orchestra.

I went to graduate school and started taking orchestra auditions. While in grad school, I met this great guy who was also taking orchestra auditions. He won a trombone position in the St. Louis Symphony. We got married, moved to St. Louis, and he started his new job. I started playing as a substitute with the St. Louis Symphony, my desire to play with an orchestra was partially fulfilled.

Performing a Dvorak string quartet at Olympic Music Festival.

It was at the end of my first year in St. Louis that two things occurred. I met Dana, Jen, and Adrianne, and we started talking about how much we missed playing chamber music. Chamber Project Saint Louis was in its infancy.  I made the choice to re-focus my energy on my first love of chamber music. 

That year I also got a job at City Academy teaching elementary students to play the violin. I never thought that I would be in a classroom setting, it wasn’t one of the choices I had originally seen for myself, but I have grown to love it and am now thrilled that this option came my way. The kids are awesome. City Academy gives them opportunities that they would most likely never have and this makes me proud to be a part of this.

Every May, when the 6th grade class leaves their violins at school to leave for middle school, I get nostalgic. I wonder if any of them will ever play a note again, even though they promise me that they will. 

I hope that I have planted a seed and that when they grow into brilliant young professionals, that they will love and support the arts.  My own life was changed by Ms. Johnson’s dedication to her students and to music, and this inspires me to pass it on.

Ensemble in Residence at The Community Music School of Webster University

CMS logo.jpg

We are excited to be the Ensemble in Residence at The Community Music School of Webster University this summer for the 2014 Summer Composition Intensive!

During this unique two week camp, students learn basic composition skills, or hone the skills they already have as they compose a piece for clarinet, viola and piano. They will have the opportunity to work with the musicians throughout the camp as their work develops. The camp culminates with Chamber Project Saint Louis performing all of the works for family, friends and anyone else who wants to come! 

Chamber Project clarinetist Dana Hotle has been an instructor at the camp since it began over 10 years ago. She says, "The CMS Composition Intensive is always the most inspiring part of the year for me. To watch these young students enthusiastically create music is always a thrill, and affirms my belief that Classical Music is alive and well and has a very bright future.  Hearing their works performed on the last day is something I look forward to year after year. It's amazing what these kids do! I'm really excited that Chamber Project is the Ensemble in Residence this year. It is a natural fit for what we do. I'm really looking forward to being able to perform the pieces that I've helped them compose!"

The camp is a truly unique opportunity for young musicians, and draws students from all over the country. Have a young musician in your life who might enjoy this? Learn more at the CMS website HERE

Meet Elizabeth, and her family.

We have enjoyed having Elizabeth Ramos (violin) perform with us so much this season! When we asked her to play this upcoming concert with us, she was giddy with delight. It turns out that one of the pieces on the program holds a special place in her heart, and this is her first opportunity to actually play it. She has graciously shared this story with us today. Elizabeth comes from a family of musicians. Both of her parents play in the St. Louis Symphony. Her mom is a cellist and her dad is a violinist. Both of her siblings are also musicians. What is it like to grow up in a house full of string players? She gives us a little glimpse in her story. 

Elizabeth Ramos, violin

Elizabeth Ramos, violin

In my parents house, my mother has a studio that is cluttered with dusty cassettes, decaying volumes of music, and every type of random artifact you could imagine, ranging from decade old used strings to broken splintering cello chairs.  It is here that I would come in my adolescent years to rummage through old bins of recordings and thumb through yellowed, flaking pages of chamber music.  Mixed into the hodgepodge of musical paraphernalia I would frequently come across live recordings of my parent's performances, some from only a few months prior, and others extending as far back as their conservatory days in the 70's.  Perhaps early on I had a deep seated sense of parental pride, or more likely it was just an inquisitive child's curiosity, but more often than not I would find myself specifically combing through the familial stacks of long forgotten cassette tapes labeled "Carmen Fantasy, 1987," or "Brahms Double, 1993."

Elizabeth on the far left, with her sibling playing together.

Elizabeth on the far left, with her sibling playing together.

Every find would be a secret bonanza, to be confiscated and listened to over and over again while doing the dishes. (The kitchen had the most easily accesible stereo.)  It was during one of these "snooping" sessions that I came across a cassette tape of the Schumann Piano Quintet with my father playing first violin.  To a child's ears, it was magnetic.  During the after dinner dishes that evening, I dragged my little brother into the kitchen and forced him to sword fight with a spatula and a wooden spoon to the Scherzo, and play acted a long, drawn out melodramatic death accompanying the slow movement.  For the next year it was the only recording that played during our dish washing listening sessions.  Eventually we memorized our own made up lyrics, usually consisting of comedic insults and ridiculous dialogue, frequently interrupted by bouts of giggles and laughter. Throughout the years I've held this chamber work in the highest regard, not only for it's masterful brilliance, but also for the nostalgic quality it inspires.  This will be my first time performing the Schumann Piano Quintet.

Come hear Elizabeth play the Schumann Piano Quintet next Friday! Maybe she'll swing a wooden spoon at you during the Scherzo. 

ACE April 12, 8:00pm The Chapel Venue buy tickets>

SCHUBERT  String Trio in B flat Major CRESTON  Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano SCHUMANNPiano Quintet in E flat Major

Hannah Frey, violin Elizabeth Ramos, violin Laura Reycraft, viola Stephanie Hunt, cello Adrianne Honnold, saxophone Peter Henderson, piano

Where in the world...

Our upcoming concert is called "Voyage" and explores music that expresses some kind of journey. We asked our musicians about their musical Voyages! Cellist Valentina Takova previously shared her story, which envovles an intense journey of leaving her homeland and moving to America with her cello. You can read that here. But this time she shares something a little lighter. And sandier.

Don't you wish you were here right now!?

"I have traveled quite a bit because of my cello but I think my favorite work related voyage is going to Hawaii! Yes, you read this right! I play with the Honolulu Symphony from time to time and there is nothing better than dropping off your cello after rehearsal and going to the beach or to swim with turtles! Every day is sunny and beautiful. Girls wear flowers in their hair and people say Aloha when you walk in to Walgreen's. And at the end of the get payed...Yes, you read that right too! Of course there are always dangers like getting your ears full with sand from a big wave, falling off of a cliff while hiking or being bitten by a giant bug...but I'll take it! Thank you Honolulu Symphony! Definitely my favorite musical voyage!"

Artistic Director and flutist, Jennifer Gartley shares her story of going to a festival in Canada where she fell in love....sort of.  She's also been to Mexico, but that story is for later.

I can tell you Jen never stops talking about this guy.

A few summers ago, well more than a few now, I spent a couple weeks up in Canada, north of Quebec at a music festival called Domaine Forget.  The sole reason I went was to learn from my flute boyfriend: Emmanuel Pahud. To be clear, he is unfortunately not my boyfriend, but I can promise you if you ask any of my college students about my flute boyfriend, they will know exactly who you are talking about. Now, I did not just love him because he is beautiful and French - but that didn't hurt.  I loved him mostly because he was the most amazing flute player I had ever heard.  My

Emmanuel Pahud, Jens not so secret celebrity crush.

friend Anne and I drove up from Portland, Maine in an old ford taurus that had seen better days.  We arrived and the views were breathtaking and there were a ton of flutists.  Flutists sometimes get a bad rep for being ul

tra competitive and dare we say not very friendly, but that was not my experience.  I made a ton of new flute friends from all over the globe and I got to practice my French a little bit.  Emmanuel Pahud turned out to be not only an amazing player, but also an empathetic, daring, and inspiring teacher.  On our free days, we walked through the streets of Quebec and I bought a really great pair of earrings from this fancy Canadian store, that turned out to be an American chain retailer - but I felt very fancy for a moment. The lessons I learned about being open to other musicians, making intentional artistic decisions, and hearing J.S. Bach in an entirely new way are lessons I have carried with me ever since.

Vince Varvel, guitar enjoyed performing all over Europe. Vince is performing with Chamber Project for the first time on Voyage. 

vinceI think my favorite musical "voyage" up to now has been the first time I went to Europe to play. The excitement of being in Europe combined with the experience of playing for the wonderful audiences over there was a life-changing experience for me.  While it was wonderful performing in a big city like Paris, my favorite concerts were the ones played in the smaller towns in the countryside where we were welcomed and treated like family (and fed pretty well, to boot!)

FEB 22, 7:00pm at The Saint Louis Art Museum Art After 5 series.Call 314-721-0072 to reserve your free tickets. **THIS CONCERT IS SOLD OUT**

MARCH 1, 8:00pm at The Chapel Venue. $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Includes 2 drinks. Click here for advance ticket purchase.

Full Program PIAZZOLLA            L’histoire du Tango BERMEL                Soul Garden SCHOENBERG     Transfigured Night

Meet Eliana

Our upcoming concert is titled "VOYAGE" because all of the pieces start somewhere and end up somewhere different. We thought it would be fun to learn about Voyages our musicians have taken so we asked them to share. Eliana Haig (viola) will be making her debut with Chamber Project next week. She's new to Saint Louis so take a moment and get to know her and her story! We'll have a few more stories coming soon.  Hi! My name is Eliana and I am very excited to be playing viola on the Voyage concerts for Chamber Project! I am a Saint Louis newbie, having just moved here with my fiance, Alex, in August. I currently teach about 22 private students (and growing) and freelance throughout the region.

Eliana and her beloved viola!

I decided on the viola in 3rd grade string orchestra through a process of elimination. I decided that 1) the violin was too high-pitched and annoying (upon working with many great violinists I have since changed my view) and 2) the cello was going to be a pain to carry around. The viola and I have been inseparable ever since. I love playing the middle voice and being in the center of the action.

I’ve been lucky that my viola playing has allowed me to enjoy many different parts of the world as well as many different musical experiences. I just moved to Saint Louis from Rochester, New York: I got my Master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music, then lived “downstate” (NYC area) for two years, then went back to Rochester, and now here. I grew up in Kentucky, but did my Bachelor’s degree in Wisconsin, so I’ve sort of lived a little bit of everywhere! My most interesting musical voyage, however, was the year I spent studying abroad in Austria.

Beethoven Monument in Vienna

Like many American students, I did a study abroad program for a semester, and chose Vienna as my destination. To non-musicians this may seem a bit random. Why not London or Paris or Berlin? But Vienna is actually a musician’s dream destination. Most of the composers we know best lived there, including Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, and Schumann. Arnold Schoenberg, the composer of Verklärte Nacht [which is on the upcoming concert], was born in Vienna and lived and worked there before being forced to emigrate when the Nazi party rose to power. {click here to watch a short video about Schoenberg in Vienna} I got to visit Beethoven’s apartment, explore an entire museum devoted to Mahler, and see a Bruckner Symphony with the same orchestra and the same hall where it was premiered. During my semester in Vienna, I also took lessons with a fantastic viola teacher, from whom I learned so much that I decided to stay the rest of the year.

This teacher actually taught full-time at a school in Graz, a small city in the southern part of Austria, so I enrolled there. I learned conversational German, though much of it I have forgotten. I played a lot of concerts, and met many people from all over the world. Being far away from home with only a passable command of the language was exciting, fascinating, confusing, and lonely, often all in the same day! Since I often think in musical terms, the best way I can think to describing my experience is that it was like learning a completely new piece of music for the first time.

Beginning to rehearse a new piece, while fun and exciting, is often disorienting. Even if I have listened to the piece with the score, hearing my part combined with the others for the first time feels like information overload. Especially when I’m preparing to perform piece of contemporary music, it takes a while to try to understand the “musical language” of the composer. Why do they want it to get louder there? What emotional or coloristic effect is he or she going for? Sometimes a new piece seems so “foreign” that I’m not even sure if certain markings in the score are clerical errors or intentional musical instructions. But much like the thrill of travelling, I love playing new music because it stretches me intellectually and forces me to try new ways of doing things - all in real time and while responding to the other musicians. That’s why live music is so much fun!

Much like a composer’s notes in the score, symbolic instructions can get lost in translation. This ambiguous sign, which I saw outside of public transit station in Graz, Austria, says “uneven surfaces”.

What does this mean?!

Be sure to say hi to Eliana at one of our upcoming concerts!

FEB 22, 7:00pm at The Saint Louis Art Museum Art After 5 series.Call 314-721-0072 to reserve your free tickets.

MARCH 1, 8:00pm at The Chapel Venue. $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Includes 2 drinks. Click here for advance ticket purchase.

Full Program PIAZZOLLA            L’histoire du Tango BERMEL                Soul Garden SCHOENBERG     Transfigured Night

Transfigured Night Illuminated

this post written by Dana Our next concert, Voyage, features a very famous piece by the famous composer Arnold Schoenberg. Verklärte Nacht, or, Transfigured Night. Written for string sextet (2 violins, 2 violas and 2 cellos) the piece is based on a poem of the same name by Richard Dehmel.

The poem is quite intimate and powerful, and had a big effect on Schoenberg. So big, it inspired him to write one of his most famous works. After writing the haunting, passionate and beautiful Transfigured Night, Schoenberg turned his music, and the world of music, on its head by writing some really crazy stuff, notably Pierrot Lunaire, which is being performed this Wednesday by members of The Saint Louis Symphony at The Pulitzer if you're interested.

But back to Transfigured Night. As you might know, we've been creating art posters for each of our concerts this year, and I felt that this poem had such rich imagery I really wanted an artist to do something with it, and luckily, I had just recently met a wonderful artist - Holly Gollwitzer-Gregg. I pitched it to her and she said yes! Here is the result!

Preview of “Voyage Poster”

It might seem rather mysterious if you haven't read the poem - which is what we were looking for. This poem has really stuck to me. It has everything- the just slightly taboo subject, the fear, the courage, the love and acceptance. Holly captures THE MOMENT of the poem so beautifully. You can see more of her work (she's also an incredible Decorative Painter) on her site:

Here is the poem, courtesy of Wikipedia, where you can learn more about the music too if you'd like. There are also some fantastic YouTube videos of it. This one gives a moment by moment description of how the music and the text fit together.

Zwei Menschen gehn durch kahlen, kalten Hain; der Mond läuft mit, sie schaun hinein. Der Mond läuft über hohe Eichen; kein Wölkchen trübt das Himmelslicht, in das die schwarzen Zacken reichen. Die Stimme eines Weibes spricht: Two people are walking through a bare, cold wood; the moon keeps pace with them and draws their gaze. The moon moves along above tall oak trees, there is no wisp of cloud to obscure the radiance to which the black, jagged tips reach up. A woman’s voice speaks:
„Ich trag ein Kind, und nit von Dir, ich geh in Sünde neben Dir. Ich hab mich schwer an mir vergangen. Ich glaubte nicht mehr an ein Glück und hatte doch ein schwer Verlangen nach Lebensinhalt, nach Mutterglück “I am carrying a child, and not by you. I am walking here with you in a state of sin. I have offended grievously against myself. I despaired of happiness, and yet I still felt a grievous longing for life’s fullness, for a mother’s joys
und Pflicht; da hab ich mich erfrecht, da ließ ich schaudernd mein Geschlecht von einem fremden Mann umfangen, und hab mich noch dafür gesegnet. Nun hat das Leben sich gerächt: nun bin ich Dir, o Dir, begegnet.“ and duties; and so I sinned, and so I yielded, shuddering, my sex to the embrace of a stranger, and even thought myself blessed. Now life has taken its revenge, and I have met you, met you.”
Sie geht mit ungelenkem Schritt. Sie schaut empor; der Mond läuft mit. Ihr dunkler Blick ertrinkt in Licht. Die Stimme eines Mannes spricht: She walks on, stumbling. She looks up; the moon keeps pace. Her dark gaze drowns in light. A man’s voice speaks:
„Das Kind, das Du empfangen hast, sei Deiner Seele keine Last, o sieh, wie klar das Weltall schimmert! Es ist ein Glanz um alles her; Du treibst mit mir auf kaltem Meer, doch eine eigne Wärme flimmert von Dir in mich, von mir in Dich. “Do not let the child you have conceived be a burden on your soul. Look, how brightly the universe shines! Splendour falls on everything around, you are voyaging with me on a cold sea, but there is the glow of an inner warmth from you in me, from me in you.
Die wird das fremde Kind verklären, Du wirst es mir, von mir gebären; Du hast den Glanz in mich gebracht, Du hast mich selbst zum Kind gemacht.“ Er faßt sie um die starken Hüften. Ihr Atem küßt sich in den Lüften. Zwei Menschen gehn durch hohe, helle Nacht. That warmth will transfigure the stranger’s child, and you bear it me, begot by me. You have transfused me with splendour, you have made a child of me.” He puts an arm about her strong hips. Their breath embraces in the air. Two people walk on through the high, bright night.

(English translation by Mary Whittall)

FEB 22, 7:00pm at The Saint Louis Art Museum Art After 5 series.Call 314-721-0072 to reserve your free tickets.

MARCH 1, 8:00pm at The Chapel Venue. $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Includes 2 drinks. Click here for advance ticket purchase.

Full Program PIAZZOLLA            L’histoire du Tango BERMEL                Soul Garden SCHOENBERG     Transfigured Night

Stay tuned, we're going to have Voyage stories from our musicians in the next post!

Building Together

Today we launch our "Countdown to 2013" donation drive! We love bringing music to our community - and we need your help to keep it coming! Help us establish ourselves as a permanent fixture in the music scene here in Saint Louis by making a donation. We call it, "Becoming Part of the Project" because when you donate to us, you really are an integral part of what we do and you join the circle of people who have come together to make our concerts a part of their lives.

So, this thing called music costs money. Quite a bit of money. Our focus is to present the best musicians our town has to offer in intimate, casual settings where you can get to know the musicians, as well as the music. We go out of our way to use locally owned businesses for the services we need as much as we can. (All of our printing is done by locally owned printers - The Ink Spot on Hampton and Paperkeet on Morganford).

We put together this little flyer to send out with our snail mail campaign - scroll down to see our "contribution menu".

Preview of “donation campaign insert V2”p2The first advice we got from an adviser who helped us set up our non-profit status was that our financial foundation would come from lots and lots of small to medium donations. Not from grants or big flashy donations. And she was right. We have received some very generous donations, for which we are incredibly grateful. We've received our first grant, and look forward to more in the future, but what we really seek is for the community to chip in what they can to help make music happen in their community!

Take a moment and visit our PayPal link and become a Part of the Project!

or send a check to:

4159 Wyoming Street St. Louis, MO 63116

Thank you and Happy New Year!

Preview of “donation campaign insert V2” p1

Meet Megan

Meet Megan, her sisters and her dog, and hear her play this Wednesday at The Schlafly Tap Room! (concert details at the end) My name is Megan Stout. I have loved the harp for as long as I can remember.  I moved to St Louis a few years ago and have been so fortunate that Chamber Project has asked me to play with them. It is such a rewarding musical experience with marvelous musicians and people.

People ask me why I chose the harp.  I, honestly have no idea.  I was always taken with the idea. When I was a little girl (about 5) we lived in a house with a pool. The hollow metal pool railing was shaped like a harp and I would hit it until it would ring then pretend to play. It combined two of my favorite things, water and the harp!

I FINALLY got lessons when I was 9 years old. When my mom told me that my teacher accepted me and that I was going to start lessons I fell to the floor crying. I was an ecstatic little girl. :)

As we all know, the harp is heavy and awkward to carry. It took me a little time to be able to get a harp dolly but luckily, I had the older neighbor boy, Jake, to help me and my mom get it into the old family suburban. When I got my harp dolly I named it Jake after that patient and strong boy. Jake (the cart) and I have been together for 20 years and it currently resides at Powell Symphony Hall!megan and her sisters

I have two sisters who are also musicians. My older sister is a pianist and my younger sister is an oboist. We are very close and love to play duets and trios together. These are pictures of me and my sisters after a few recitals we played together.

My older sister and I did our undergraduate studies together at IU [Indiana University] and then my younger sister and I overlapped at IU for our Master's degrees.  We confused a lot of teachers as we all look so much alike.

Megan and Rachel

I loved my time at IU.  It is such a big school!  The harp department usually had about 23 harpists in it each semester and I learned so much from my fellow harpies. This is a picture from my freshman year recital.

After IU I spent some time in Indianapolis and Cincinnati. I have to say that I was thrilled to move here to St Louis to play 2nd harp for The St. Louis Symphony. I love St. Louis and feel like my friends and colleagues give me such a full and rich life. This year I am playing as the Acting Principal Harpist of The St. Louis Symphony, which has been such a fun and rewarding experience.  This year brings to fruition everything that I dreamed of as a little girl.

I couldn't talk about myself without also mentioning my practice buddy, Oliver! He is an adorable terrier schnauzer mix whom I rescued 2 years ago.  There was a period of time where I was working particularly hard for an upcoming concert and practicing long hours. Oliver likes being in the room with me when I practice (I have to push him off of my feet pretty often as he blocks me from using my pedals!). At one point he got up, went to the other room, grabbed his doggy bed, and pulled it into the harp room to lay it directly on the legs of my music stand. He curled up and looked at me like, "OK, I'm comfy! Go ahead!"

My time in St Louis has been the happiest of my life. With great people, a great job, and great musicians, (and great dog!) how could it not be?

Megan is featured in our concert this Wednesday at The Schlafly Tap Room! Sit back and enjoy the amazing sounds of the harp with your favorite local brew. Come early and enjoy dinner in downstairs.

NOV 14, 7:00 pm The Schlafly Tap Room -upstairs in The Club Room, doors at 6:30 2100 Locust Street, (@21st) 63103 MAP IT $10 cash/check/card - in advance online click here

program ROCHESTER YOUNG     Song of the Lark MOZART                         Duo in B-flat Major K.424 DONIZETTI                      Harp Solo from Lucia di Lammermoor JOLIVET                          Petite Suite

musicians Jennifer Gartley, flute Hannah Frey, violin Laura Reycraft, viola Megan Stout, harp

Dana Hotle, remarks

Creating a MOSAIC

Our concert this week is called "MOSAIC". Every piece on the program is by an American, and each piece truly unique.  We're really excited about the blend of old and new on this program and the breathtaking variety of style. From traditional classical, modernist mastery, jazz, blues and folk - it's all in here! Learn a little more about the music from the musicians themselves in this post. October 19, 8:00 pm The Chapel Venue - tickets include 2 drinks. $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Online ticket purchase click here.

October 24, 7:30pm Chamber Music Series Danforth University Center, Washington University - in the Goldberg Formal Lounge free

MUSICIANS Jennifer Gartley, flute Dana Hotle, clarinet Adrianne Honnold, saxophone Elizabeth Ramos, violin Laura Reycraft, viola Stephanie Hunt, cello Christopher Haughey, bass

JOAN TOWER Petroushskates (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano)


Dana "I about fell out of my chair the first time I heard Petroushskates I loved it so much. It is so colorful and vibrant. Joan achieves these bright, shimmering, brilliant colors with just these 5 instruments, almost exactly the same colors the composer Stravinsky gets with a full orchestra. Stravinsky's famous ballet, Petroushka, is one of her sources of inspiration for this unique piece. The other source, figure skating, seems completely at odds with her first source: an iconic ballet by a Russian master, but somehow, she makes it work! I love the tension that these two seemingly unrelated ideas create in this short piece. I'm excited to finally play music by Joan Tower, one of the great American composers of the 20th Century, and one of the first female composers to really "make it". She was the Conductor in Residence at the St. Louis Symphony in the '80s, so she has this great St. Louis connection as well."

Jennifer "The Tower never lets up, I can never stop counting even for a second. In practicing this work, the rhythmic element is just so challenging, but the effect should be a mix of the ultra complicated coupled with a feeling of effortlessness... which doesn't completely make sense until you hear it."

AARON COPLAND Piano Variations (solo piano)


This is not your everyday piece of music. This is not your everyday composer. One of the most popular American composers of all time, you get to hear a side of Copland you may not have heard before in his Piano Variations (1930). This piece put him on the map as a very serious artist. This music is "ART" in the highest sense of the word. It falls into the category of "Modernism", which basically means a style of music in which a composer is trying to break out of the traditional ways of using melody, harmony and rhythm, often times failing to create anything lasting. But not Aaron, he succeeds brilliantly. This music is bracing and angular, representing the incredible changes in society in the early to mid 20th century. Think machines, technology, urbanism - expressed in a very elegant and concise vocabulary. We've rented a brand spanking new Yamaha Concert Grand piano for this concert, and Nina is going to show you everything it can do with the Copland!

MASON BATES Life of Birds (flute, clarinet, violin, cello)

Jennifer "I have been intrigued by Mason Bates for a few years and I first heard about him in his role with the New World Symphony in creating these really cool electronica/classical crossover concerts that were held in clubs late night. After a little bit of research, I found that he also composed acoustic works and this work just seemed to fit perfectly with our programming. I like his approach to narrative within a work, and even though flute players sometimes get a little tired of being compared to birds, this new approach by Bates really caught my interest. I can't wait to play this, it has been on my wish list for a couple of years."

Dana "Life of Birds is amazing. It's playful, jazzy, modern and soulful all at the same time. we had a blast rehearsing it at a Very Open Rehearsal at STLCC last week!"

Mason is on Facebook and Twitter (follow links to connect with him)


EVAN CHAMBERS  Come Down Heavy (violin, saxophone, piano)

Adrianne "Evan Chambers, the composer of Come Down Heavy, is a contemporary American composer and a traditional Irish fiddler. As you might imagine, he often unites the contemporary and the traditional in his music, and Come Down Heavy is no exception. The piece starts out with a blues-styled line in the saxophone part but quickly evolves into a more avant-garde imagining of the melody utilizing the extended range of the saxophone and rhythmic complexity in the ensemble as a whole. At one point the instruction to the performers in the score says "Cataclysmic", which I've never seen in a piece of music!

Throughout the first movement, the piece goes back and forth between these bluesy folk tune melodies and a more modern representation of those melodies. The second and third movements of the piece are more traditional, with the second movement featuring a beautiful melody performed by the fiddle and the third movement featuring the saxophone. Finally, the fourth movement, "Drill Ye Tarriers" employs different types of dance forms and ends with a frenzied flourish in the form of a tarantella. [a tarantella is an old Italian dance form that has to do with spiders, you can read about it here] Throughout the piece Chambers uses traditional Irish, Scottish and even Italian folk ideas, a nod to both his own heritage and to the varied heritage of America.  This piece can get pretty wild, but just keep listening! You're never far from another folk tune. "

GEORGE GERSHWIN "Someone to Watch Over Me" (saxophone, string quintet) An American Classic, sweetly arranged for sax and strings. Check out this beautiful rendition by the incredible Ella Fitzgerald. [youtube=]

This program is presented in partnership with The American Arts Experience, and partially funded by The Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.