By Bellamy Crawford
The Asheville Chamber Music Series (ACMS) presents a performance by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields (ASMF) Wind Ensemble with guest pianist Caroline Palmer on Sunday, February 11, at 4 p.m. at the Central United Methodist Church in Asheville.
“This is the first time Academy of St Martin in the Fields has performed in Asheville,” says Polly Feitzinger, ACMS programming committee chair. “The Asheville Chamber Music Series has established a reputation across the globe as engaging the ‘top-of-the-class’ ensembles, whether they be emerging or well-established groups. Our audience is enthusiastically receptive to these high-caliber performances, and many touring ensembles mention that they would like to return to Asheville.”
The Academy of St Martin in the Fields’ Wind Ensemble will present a vibrant program of European classics, including Francis Poulenc’s Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano; Heinrich Molbe’s Air Arabe for Oboe, Horn and Piano; Jean Françaix’s Divertissement for Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon; and Mozart’s Quintet for Piano and Winds. Guest artists include John Roberts, principal oboe of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the English Chamber Orchestra; Fiona Cross, principal clarinet of the Glyndebourne Touring Opera and Manchester Camerata; Julie Price, principal bassoon with the English Chamber Orchestra; Stephen Stirling, renowned horn soloist with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and BBC NOW, among others; and Caroline Palmer, a noted Chamber musician and professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama who will be a guest pianist with St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble in 2024.
“Many Mozart scholars believe his Quintet for Piano and Winds is one of the greatest works Mozart ever composed,” says Feitzinger. “I’m eagerly looking forward to hearing it performed by Academy of St Martin in the Fields.”
Considered one of the world’s finest chamber orchestras, Academy of St Martin in the Fields was founded by Sir Neville Marriner in 1958 from a group of leading London musicians. Nine years later, the Academy Chamber Ensemble was formed to perform the larger-scale chamber music repertoire with players who customarily worked together, instead of the usual string quartet with additional guests.
Currently led by music director and virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell, the orchestra retains the collegiate spirit and flexibility of the original small, conductor-less ensemble which is an ASMF hallmark. Under Bell’s direction, ASMF continues to push the boundaries of player-directed performance to new heights, presenting symphonic repertoire and chamber music on a grand scale at prestigious venues around the globe.
“What sets the Academy apart from other ensembles is its exceptional musical intelligence,” says Marilynne Herbert, ACMS president. “And we’re excited about the venue, as the Central Methodist Church has acoustics which are particularly suited for wind instruments.”
In addition to ASMF’s extensive tours of Europe and North America, the group is dedicated to working with communities across the globe to increase well-being, connectedness and autonomy. This includes working with schools and people experiencing homelessness, and supporting the next generation of orchestral musicians through collaborations with Southbank Sinfonia, a London-based organization providing fellowships to young graduate musicians.
Central United Methodist Church is located at 27 Church Street in downtown Asheville. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit AshevilleChamberMusic.org.