Chamber music society. It sounds expensive just to belong.
Fortunately, it’s not an exclusive club. Just accessible and various music, with many concerts tucked away in places you wouldn’t expect.
Ashmont Hill Chamber Music (ahchambermusic.org) returns bass-baritone Dashon Burton to open its season Sept. 24. He’s joined by Baroque violinist Julia McKenzie and organist Andrew Sheranian. It’s a sensational start to a sensational season—here’s a taste: Claremont Trio, with a commission from Judd Greenstein; Bach, ragas and Shirish Korde’s cello work “Lalit”; Hub New Music, with harpist/composer Hannah Lash; the Omer Quartet. Lots of Bach, lots of new ideas. Opening performance at Dorchester’s Parish of All Saints, subsequent concerts at Peabody Hall.
The chamber ensemble Castle of Our Skins (castleskins.org) brings its own insights into expanding both the repertory and audiences to multiple venues this season. There’s a free event focused on composer George Walker at Rockport Music (Sept. 24), and just days later an appearance at Dudley Square’s inaugural Bartlett Festival.
CooS makes its debut on the Gardner Museum (www.isgm.org) Sunday series in October, gives a performance of works by Florence Price and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor at Salem State University in November, and spends a residency at Longy School of Music in December. The group makes its Celebrity Series debut in March as well. No excuse for missing the ambitious ensemble.
The Silkroad Project (holycross.edu) concludes its residency at Holy Cross in Worcester this year. Part of the residency has included three years of workshopping Osvaldo Golijov’s “Falling Out of Time.” The song cycle, based on the David Grossman’s Booker Prize–winning investigation of grief, is written for three voices, electronics, kemancheh, pipa, sheng, trumpet, percussion and string quintet. The Oct. 31 performance brings together a dozen musicians, including Johnny Gandelsman (violin) and Wu Man (pipa), and begins a national Silkroad tour of the program.
Pianist Marc-André Hamelin joins violinist/director Wendy Putnam, cellist Andrés Díaz, former New York Philharmonic concertmaster Glenn Dicterow and others—performing a world premiere by Yehudi Wyner—to kick off the Concord Chamber Music Society’s 20th anniversary (concordchambermusic.org) Sept. 29 at Concord Academy. Putnam has arranged a splashy season: the Juilliard String Quartet in January, and a season-ending recital by pianist Yefim Bronfman.
The Worcester Chamber Music Society (worcesterchambermusic.org) begins its season Sept. 27 (Harvard) and 28 (Worcester’s Assumption College) with multi-talented pianist Simon Dinnerstein. A skilled visual artist as well, Dinnerstein’s drawing “Sonatina” provided the impetus for Gabriela Lena Frank’s composition “Ghosts in the Dream Machine,” which Dinnerstein performs along with music by Valerie Coleman, Jessie Montgomery and Paquito D’Rivera.
Indian Hill (indianhillmusic.org) presents various series of chamber programs. The most high profile occurs in Groton’s Kalliroscope Gallery, and begins Oct. 19 with Musicians from Marlboro. Violinist Irina Muresanu performs her captivating Four Strings Around the World program on Nov. 16, and Ying Quartet and Gramercy Trio are among those making appearances on the season program this year later in the spring.
It’s takes a while to get all the way down to Westport Point, where the United Methodist Church has hosted Concerts at the Point (concertsatthepoint.org) for two decades. Plus the room is tiny, stuffy, with marginal sight-lines in some corners. And if you’re not there early, forget about getting in.
But it’s worth it. This season begins Oct. 6, with harpsichordists Michael Bahmann and Paul Cienniwa performing Bach. Perfect music for the intimacy of the setting.
Attacca Quartet, Neave Trio and the Muir Quartet also highlight the Westport season. Both Bahmann and Cienniwa (Oct. 5), and the Neave Trio (Feb. 29), appear in another tucked-away Southcoast venue, Rehoboth’s Arts in the Village series (rehobothantiquarian.org).
The South Coast Chamber Music Series (nbsymphony.org) deepens its affiliation with the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra this season, with artistic director/pianist Janice Weber sitting in with principals from the NBSO. Concerts are at the congenial hour of 4 p.m., Saturdays in Marion, Sundays in South Dartmouth. Opening weekend—Sept. 28 and 29—features wind music, including the Poulenc Sextet. Principal chairs sitting in during the season include NBSO concertmaster Jesse Holstein, and principals Leo Eguchi (cello), Anna Griffis (viola) and EmmaLee Holmes Hicks (violin).
No excuse for missing Lorelei Ensemble (loreleiensemble.com) this season. Beth Willer’s adventurous a cappella ensemble sings its seasonal touring repertory—including music of Jessica Meyer and David Lang—in Wenham at Gordon College (Oct. 11) and the next evening at First Church Congregational in Cambridge. Works by Pérotin, Sungji Hong, and Jonathan Woody are also on the program. Lorelei continues to tour extensively as well—don’t think the rest of the country is missing out on them.
The Chameleon Arts Ensemble (chameleonarts.org) programs paint a fleeting notion of romance: “slow dreams of eternity,” “whose fragments we inherit.” High-flown sounding titles, but Deborah Boldin’s group buttresses those notions with programs found in the challenging corners of the repertory.
The Chameleons present concerts atg First Church and Old South Church in Boston, beginnin Oct. 12, and visit Salem State University for a major program in January as well. A premiere by Jeremy Gill, and Milhaud’s “La création du monde,” highlight the opening weekend concerts.
The Boston Camerata stands apart in experience, with more than six decades of continuous early music investigations. The ensemble (bostoncamerata.org) stands apart in audience reach, with an annual series of performances here and in Europe, along with residencies and tours throughout the world.
Anne Azéma’s group stands apart in insight as well. A long performance history examining the human condition—from foibles to atrocities—forms the foundation for brilliant music making. The Camerata season—“an election-season program,” as they put it—begins at Faneuil Hall Nov. 8. The group returns from Europe in November, performing “Free America: Songs of Resistance and Rebellion” Nov. 8 at Fanueil Hall. Subsequent seasonal performances include concerts in Dorchester, Cambridge, Newbury.
New Gallery Concert Series (newgalleryconcertseries.org) has its own two decades to celebrate this season, which begins Nov. 7 in Pickman Hall at Longy. Pianistic combinations of 2, 4, 6, and 8 hands celebrate the anniversary with premieres by deVon Gray, Stefanie Lubkowski, and David Rakowski—his “Eighters Gonna Eight” (guess how many hands). Director Sarah Bob and the all the other hands and fingers— pianists Donald Berman, Geoffrey Burleson, and Marilyn Nonken—take the same program to New York in November. NGCS resumes its concert series in the spring at the group’s Cambridge home, the New School of Music. The ensemble has a its debut CD release this month as well—“Nobody Move,” all new work, on Avie Records.