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Saint Louis Cathedral Concerts to offer free chamber music concerts

By: Sheila Frayne Rhoades

2017 chamber series featured artists: Kristin Ahlstrom, Bjorn Ranheim, Tzuying Huang , Matthew Mazzoni

Classic music lovers rejoice! What could be more fulfilling than experiencing great music performed by world class musicians in a beautiful venue? This opportunity exists in a series of five free chamber music concerts scheduled for Sept. 5-26.

Promoted by Saint Louis Cathedral Concerts and sponsored by Fontbonne University, the concerts are presented at five separate locations across the region, including Chesterfield and St. Charles. No tickets or reservations are required. All the concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. and will last 90 minutes with a brief intermission.

Performances are scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 5 at Fontbonne University – Saint Louis Doerr Chapel; Tuesday, Sept. 12 at Sts. Joachim & Ann Catholic Church in St. Charles;

Thursday, Sept. 14 at Incarnate Word Catholic Church in Chesterfield; Friday, Sept. 22 at

St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church in O’Fallon, Illinois; and Tuesday, Sept. 26 at St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church in St. Louis City.

Scott Kennebeck, executive director of Saint Louis Cathedral Concerts, said, “This is a wonderful way to examine the musicians’ craft as they adapt to different situations in each venue. While the pieces are essentially the same, the concert experience will vary at all five locations. We have regular audience members who attend multiple concerts so they can see how the musicians adapt their playing for each space.”

Asked how the series began, Kennebeck explained: “Five years ago, I was looking for a way to engage audiences that may not know about St. Louis Cathedral Concerts, even though this year we are celebrating our 25th Anniversary Season. The concept for the chamber series came up in conversations I had with a friend, Matthew Mazzoni, who is the present music director at Central Presbyterian Church on Hanley Road. He is an accomplished pianist and his wife, Jennifer, is a wonderful flute player. We thought that by offering smaller chamber music concerts at churches around St. Louis, it would be a great way to introduce people to the larger concert events we present at the Cathedral.

“It took off from there. We began with three concerts, but through the support of Fontbonne University, we have since grown that number to five free concerts per season.”

Musical selections will include works by Beethoven, Khachaturian and Mendelssohn. “We have had the opportunity to work with some of the finest musicians in St. Louis for each of the chamber series,” Kennebeck said. “This year, we are thrilled to be joined by three musicians from the St. Louis Symphony, including Kristin Ahlstrom, violin; Bjorn Ranheim, cello; Tzuying Huang, clarinet; and joined by Matthew on piano. The musicians traditionally engage with their audience by offering verbal notes and explaining the historical context of the piece and/or composer.”

Families are encouraged to attend.

“This is an incredible opportunity for people across the metropolitan area to get out and experience live music with which they may not be familiar with. This is music that deserves to be heard, especially by kids and their families,” Kennebeck added. “The only way this music will continue to be heard is to expose our children to it at an early age and get them excited about it. They are the next generation of arts consumers.

“We simply must share that experience with them and demonstrate how it can be an impactful part of their life experience. We need to get them away from screens of all sizes that only focus on some virtual world … and introduce them to the real world, through real experiences.”

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