Music News & Reviews

Chamber music takes center stage as a new series makes its debut

Emerald City Music embarks on a musical journey Saturday.

“Wanderlust,” the first concert of the new chamber music series, features music that evokes world travels.

“It’s a compilation of all these composers’ travel journeys,” said Kristin Lee, the program’s artistic director.

Emerald City’s season will cover a lot of territory, including compositions new and old, played by musicians with a wide span of ages and backgrounds.

“I want to get rid of segregation in music,” said Lee, a violinist who lives in New York. “Audience members will hear something that’s old, but also something new that they’ve never heard before. They’ll see respected musicians they’ve probably heard on recordings and seen in videos, but also these younger musicians.”

The music Saturday will range from Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir de Florence,” composed in 1890, to Vivian Fung’s 2012 “Birdsong,” inspired by a trip to Bali.

Lee will perform at Saturday’s concert that also features the WindSync Quintet, a Houston-based group of players in their 20s and 30s, and violinist Philip Setzer, a founding member of the Grammy-winning Emerson String Quartet. The most senior musician performing Saturday is British cellist Colin Carr, whose 40-year career has included performances with major orchestras worldwide.

“The idea is to bring all of these generations together on one stage,” Lee said. “And I wanted to make sure that there was a lot of diversity in terms of ensemble size. Some pieces will be played by just two people, and some by six.”

The concerts will provide an opportunity for audience members to get up close and personal with the musicians, the pieces and one another.

“We really value showing the personality of the musicians and telling a story through the music,” said Andrew Goldstein of Olympia, Emerald City Music’s executive director. “At concerts, artists talk about the music from stage, telling their favorite stories of its history or their personal connection to it.”

Goldstein plans to place a card on each seat with a question to inspire thought and conversation. For “Wanderlust,” the question will be “What’s your fondest travel memory?”

The series is aiming to attract younger audiences and those new to classical music with themed concerts, and in Olympia with $10 ticket prices for students.

While good acoustics are paramount, Lee said, she and Goldstein are interested in presenting music in nontraditional venues, as they’ll do at Seattle’s 415 Westlake, an event space where ticket prices will include a drink.

In July, Lee and guitarist Jordan Dodson did a concert at Batdorf & Bronson on Capital Way.

“That’s something we hope to do between the main concerts,” Lee said.


What: Emerald City Music’s first concert offers chamber music that evokes world travels. On the program are Samuel Barber’s “Souvenirs,” Vivian Fung’s “Birdsong,” Guillaume Connesson’s “Techno Parade,” Györgi Ligeti’s “Six Bagatelles” and Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir de Florence.”

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts, South Puget Sound Community College, 2011 Mottman Road SW, Olympia.

Tickets: $28-$43, $10 for students.

Information: 360-753-8565,,

Also: Emerald City is producing concerts at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma and at 415 Westlake in Seattle. See for details.

The rest of the season

Dover Quartet: Internationally acclaimed quartet playing works by Beethoven. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8, St. Michael’s Westside Church, 1835 Overhulse Road NW, Olympia.

“Strings Attached”: Featuring different combinations of stringed instruments. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 11, The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia.

Bridget Kibbey: Playing music of Bach re-invented for the harp. 7:30 p.m. March 18, St. Michael’s Westside Church.

“Without Words”: A program of music composed for operas. 7:30 p.m. April 15 at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts.

“Back to Bach”: Examining Bach’s continuing influence, 7:30 p.m. May 27 at a venue to be announced.