by Mike Telin
Providing performance opportunities for emerging musicians in Northeast Ohio is the driving principle behind M.U.S.i.C. (Musical Upcoming Stars in the Classics). Under the discerning guidance of artistic director Jodi Kanter, the organization finds venues, arranges concerts, and supplies printed programs, publicity and refreshments. They also pay their performers, most of whom are students at one of the area’s conservatories or schools of music.
On Sunday, April 7 at 3:30 pm in Orange Village Hall, M.U.S.i.C. will present its Classical Cabaret No. 22. “A Celebration of Spring” will feature violinists Maria Park and Alexandra Switala, cellists Chauncey Aceret, Alex Glaubitz, Benjamin Rogers, and Rebecca Shasberger, pianists Gastón Frydman, Arseniy Gusev, Alexander Kostritsa, Nikolay Pushkarev, and Amy Tan, double-bassist Henry Samuels, oboist Devin Hinzo, and vocalists Bryant Bush and Jung Eun Oh.
The program includes Beethoven’s “Scherzo” and “Rondo” (Spring Sonata), Mozart’s “Allegro vivace assai” (Spring Quartet) and “Per questa bella mano,” Piazzolla’s “Primavera,” Prokofiev’s “Spring Fairy” (Cinderella), excerpts from Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring for piano four hands, Ravel’s Bolero arranged for cello quartet, and songs by Mahler and Debussy. Tickets include food and beverages and are available online.
Although it became a 501(c)(3) in 2007, Jodi Kanter pointed out that the seeds of the organization were planted a few years prior. “I’m good friends with pianist and Oberlin professor Peter Takács,” she said by telephone. “We were talking one day and he told me that he wanted to play chamber music in private homes, and invite students to be part of the performance.” Then, following a 40-year career as a visual artist, Kanter became a presenter.
Since 2007 M.U.S.i.C has hosted over 100 events and now presents about 8 chamber music concert experiences per year. How does Kanter find her musicians? “I go to a lot of student recitals,” she said, adding that over the years a network has developed where musicians who have played on the series recommend others.
“There’s no shortage of great musicians in Cleveland,” she said, “and I do have a lot of supporters, like Philip Highfill at Oberlin who convinced me to add art song to the programs. When we did, so many people said they didn’t know they liked vocal music, so it’s fun to introduce people to things they haven’t heard that often.”
When it comes to programming, Kanter does ask the players for suggestions, although she holds the final word on the subject. “You have to know your audience, and retaining an audience is a whole other component of what we do. But I’m happy to say that we had 95 people at a recent house concert.”
M.U.S.i.C. has recently added the commissioning of young composers to its list of activities. In May of 2018, Jiří Trtík’s Sonatina for solo piano was performed by Megan-Geoffrey Prins. Trtík’s new work for voice and ensemble will be premiered in 2019. Pianist and composer Arseniy Gusev premiered his own Sonata for cello and piano with Chauncey Aceret in December.
What makes all the work worthwhile for Kanter is to see the many young musicians who have gone on to have successful careers. “I take all of my musicians to heart. They do a good job for us, and they become friends — they’re not just a number. I’m happy to see them succeed and now I can go many places in the country and see people I have known since they were students.”
Another thing Kanter is proud of is that from the beginning, the musicians have been paid. “I never ask someone to play for free,” she said. “This is their career and they need to pay the bills.”
Published on ClevelandClassical.com April 1, 2019.
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