Pacifica Quartet. Photo by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco
By PAM HARBAUGH
Take world class artists, add works of great composers, then throw in some punch and cookies and you get the Melbourne Chamber Music Society.
The 41-year old cultural organization has built a following in its discerning, sophisticated patrons who count on the MCMS to deliver excellence each year at ridiculously affordable prices.
“It’s the best bargain in classical music any place,” said Michael Graff, MCMS president. “If you were in a major venue, you would be paying three to five times as much.”
Its next concert will be the award winning Pacifica String Quartet beginning 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11. They performed once before with the MCMS in 2014. Since then have grown into a highly sought-after quartet. They have performed in major U.S. venues and in London, Tokyo and Sydney.
“We feel privileged to have them back,” said programming chair Paul Tardif, former MCMS president.
Another big draw this season will be the world renowned Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet. Currently in its final season, the Quintet sold out when it performed two years ago for the MCMS. They perform Feb. 22.
“We are so grateful they included Melbourne in a stop on that tour,” Graff said. “That’s really a big deal for us.”
Organizers expect another sold-out concert for that Quintet and urge potential audience members to get their tickets now.
The MCMS has been steadily growing since the Zagreb String Quartet performed in the riverfront living room of co-founder John Marschner, an area orthodontist. There were about 60 people at that inaugural concert, said Graff, who is also a co-founder along with Gary Hoffman, Stony Bird and Nancy Clew Eller.
“From that, we said how many would be interested in forming a chamber society,” Graff said. “It was unanimous.”
Wanting to keep it a true society, the organization is run by an all-volunteer staff and working board of directors. Patrons typically buy season subscriptions and there are committees that treat audiences to refreshments during intermissions.
“Everyone comes and socializes,” Graff said. “You connect with people who are like-minded.”
The group’s first season attracted about 200 people. Now, attendance nudges close to 350. Performances are held in the sanctuary at St. Marks United Methodist Church on A1A in Indialantic. Musicians who perform them often remark on the excellence of the acoustics. In fact, that is one reason both musicians and audiences return.
The MCMS has also been raising its profile in the industry itself. Big names that might play in Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center may find themselves playing in Brevard the next.
“We have world-class groups come through here,” Graff said. “Groups that play at major concert halls in London, Berlin, Paris, Washington, D.C. and New York.”
In years past, the humble Indialantic church has been the setting for sold-out performances by heady names such as the Juilliard String Quartet, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Midori and many more. It also was the stop for the final season of the legendary Guaneri String Quartet.
“These are the people who play at very famous places,” Graff said. “They all remark how good the acoustics are and how enthusiastic our audiences are. Standing ovations are the norm because we book the finest.”
To do that, the group books about two years in advance. Tardif, himself an excellent pianist and music professor, takes great care in finding the best as they are arranging tours. Currently, he’s working on the 2022/2023 season.
It’s common, Graff said, for other chamber societies to book the same groups and charge three times as much for tickets.
“Look at the roots of chamber music in small venues,” Graff said. “The intimate environment we recreate here in the 21st century for performing the work is an environment suitable for royalty.
“And we have become known as a community who appreciates fine music, therefore fine musicians want to perform for us.”
The remaining Melbourne Chamber Music Society concerts this season are:
Pacifica Quartet, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11. This group has won including the Naumburg Chamber Music Award, the Cleveland Quartet Award, an appointment to Lincoln Center’s CMS Two, and in 2006 was awarded a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. They are scheduled to perform: Haydn’s Quartet in G Major, Opus 76, No. 1; Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Opus 68; and Beethoven’s Quartet in A Minor, Opus 132
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22. This group was the first permanently established wind quintet in history of the renowned orchestra. They are scheduled to perform: Reicha’s Quintet in E-Flat Major, Opus 88 No. 2; Hindemith’s Kleine Kammermusik, Opus 24, No 2; Tomati’s Five Dances Sacred and Profane; and Taffanel’s Quintet in G Minor.
Morgenstern Trio, 7:30 p.m. March 22. A Germany-based piano trio, this group won first place at the International Joseph Haydn Competition in Vienna and has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, in Vienna, Berlin, Amsterdam and more. They are scheduled to perform: Tailleferre’s Piano Trio; Ravel’s Piano Trio in A Minor; and Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E Flat Major, Opus 100
Goldstein-Peled-Fiterstein Trio, 7:30 p.m. April 5. The trio combines the talents of three accomplished musicians who have performed on world stages. They are scheduled to perform: Beethoven’s Trio for Piano, Clarinet and Cello, Opus 11; Stutschewsky’s Hassidic Fantasy; and Brahms’ Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Opus 114.
SIDE O’ GRITS: All performances are held at the St. Marks United Methodist Church, 2030 N. A1A, Indialantic, FL. Tickets are $35 general and $10 students. Season tickets cost $120 and are available until Feb. 22, 2019. Call 321-213-5100 or visit MelbourneChambeMusicSociety.org.
This is an edited version of a story running in the Melbourne Beachsider.