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

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


We kick off our 2012-2013 season this Friday with a program we're calling "Youth".  Here's a little post about the music and the musicians, and what the musicians think about the music. MEET THE PROGRAM:

Youth Poster

R. STRAUSS      Till Eulenspiegel - Einmal Anders! TANN                 Duo NIELSEN            Serenata-Invano BEETHOVEN      Septet Op. 20

Till Eulenspiegel is one of Richard Strauss' most famous works for full orchestra. It musically tells the story of Till Eulenspiegel - The Merry Prankster of German folklore which dates back to the Middle Ages. Till stirs up trouble in a market, harasses the monks, flirts with the ladies and mocks the academics - until he gets caught. This clever arrangement (Einmal Anders means, 'Another Way") for quintet (violin, clarinet, horn, bassoon and double bass) captures the very essence of Stauss' original composition.

Laura and Adrianne will be performing Hilary Tann's Duo which directly contrasts the playful boisterous Till with smooth long lines weaving between the viola and the haunting sound of the soprano saxophone. The "youngest" piece on the program provides an intimate encounter with these two instruments.

Carl Nielsen's Serenata-Invano (Serenade in Vain) tells the story of youthful love. A young man hires a band to serenade his love - I won't give away the end by telling you what happens.

After intermission (time to grab another beverage!) we bring seven musicians to the stage to play the amazing Septet by perhaps the most famous of all composers, Beethoven.  Beethoven was bursting onto the scene as a young man (19!) when he wrote this joyful, energetic music. Featuring the violin, the Septet is rounded out by 3 more stings; viola, cello and bass, and contrasted with clarinet, bassoon and horn. It sounds like a small orchestra!


Kyle Lombard, violin

When asked what his favorite piece on the program was, Kyle said "So, if I had to say my favorite piece, it'd be the Strauss...because it gives our listener a taste of what his coloring for full orchestra was like, without the 90 piece ensemble. Music which provides entertaining characters that the audience can easily recognize is just purely more enjoyable for both performer and listener alike."

We've given Kyle about 10,000 notes to learn for this program, and every one sounds brilliant. Kyle is from Kansas City, and has lived on this side of the state for quite some time.

Dana Hotle, clarinet

Dana says this about Youth, "I am really excited about this program! The combination of pieces is just fantastic. They're all really fun to play, and I know the audience is going to love it. The Beethoven just sparkles with positive energy. The Nielsen is new to me, and the first time I heard it I couldn't believe how beautiful the combination of clarinet, bassoon, horn, cello and double bass were. There is a moment in the middle where it slows down, and it's just gorgeous."

Dana is a co-Artistic Director for Chamber Project and is a hometown girl. If you're lucky you'll meet most of her family at this concert.

Tricia Jostlein, horn

Tricia is playing with us for the first time. She's a recent transplant to St. Louis - so be sure to welcome her! She says this, "I'm particularly excited to play Till Eulenspiegel-Einmal Anders.  It's pretty incredible that five instruments, through shear force of personality, can carry a piece originally written for a huge orchestra.  This is a wonderful ensemble of players and we've had a lot of fun putting this concert together."

What she doesn't tell you is that Till Eulenspiegel begins with one of the most famous horn melodies ever written - she basically kicks off the concert and sets the stage for the musically hilarity that follows.

Adrianne Honnold, saxophoneAdrianne Honnold, recently back from touring Europe with the St. Louis Symphony, has this to say about the Hilary Tann Duo, "This piece has three different moods that make for an interesting journey; plaintive, aggressive and hopeful."

Adrianne performed at the World Saxophone Conference this summer in Scotland - she had quite an amazing trip! (Take a close look at her hands during her performance, there's something new on one of them...)

Melissa Mackey, bassoon

Melissa Mackey returns to perform with us for a second season. Melissa suggested we play the Beethoven Septet, it's one of her favorite pieces to play.  Melissa is the Associate Professor of Bassoon and Music History at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She wrote a short blog post about the Beethoven Septet on her own blog - check it out!

The bassoon is featured quite a bit in this program. It's a great chance to check out this very unusual, and very cool instrument. Melissa's bassoon is over 100 years old!

Tony Innaimo, cello

Antonio Innaimo is joining us for the first time, but if you've been to the MUNY , you've heard him play - he's the Principal Cellist of the MUNY Orchestra! When not sweltering his summers away here in St. Louis, he lives in Florida. Tony says, "It's such a joy to work with such consummate chamber musicians, performing such fine works!"

Laura Reycraft, viola

Laura Reycraft, co - Artistic Director of Chamber Project is back with us after a little time off last spring to be a new mom! We're thrilled for her and happy to have her back. Here's what she has to say about this program -

"I love playing the Beethoven-it is so fun!  The viola part alternates between accompaniment and melodic material, acting sometimes as a second violin and occasionally as a bass instrument.  The fresh energy and enthusiasm is palpable throughout the 6 movements, although I think my favorite is the last movement with its extremely serious opening and then light fast section.

The Tann has grown on me as I have learned it through listening to a recording and practicing.  The dissonance created between the two instrumental lines is complex and interesting and more melodic that I first thought."

Christopher M. Haughey, bass

Christopher Haughey is joining us for the first time. He grew up here in the St. Louis area, and has recently returned to join the United States Air Force Band of Mid American located at Scott Air Force Base. They keep him busy performing in three ensembles! We're glad he had the time to work some chamber music into his busy concert schedule!

Come to the concert and meet all of these great musicians!


September 14, 8:00 pm at The Chapel Venue Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door (cash/check only) $4 students. Tickets include two drinks: beer/wine/soda. purchase tickets online here