For those not yet familiar with the term Chamber Music, here’s the scoop. Chamber music is a form of classical music written for and performed by a small instrumental ensemble with one player per part. Duos, trios, quartets, quintets, etc., come to mind.
Since a chamber is a large room used for formal or public events, Chamber Music came to mean music for a group of musicians performed in a palace chamber or a large room. Compare that to an orchestra or symphony which requires a large hall or theater. Chamber Music naturally lends itself to a more intimate style of concert where the audience may indulge in watching the individual musicians as well as their interaction with each other, up close. It’s quite magical.
A few years back I had the pleasure of hearing pianist Timothy Durkovic perform at a home concert with a trio, playing one of my favorites: Joaquin Turina’s Second Piano Trio Opus 76 in A Minor. Durkovic’s playing was superb, flawless and memorable.
You can imagine how excited I was when Timothy, out of the blue, messaged me, asking if The Athena Foundation for the Arts would consider including his Guideri Walz Durkovic Piano Trio in our concert series. I was starstruck. Here was the very pianist whose performance I had greatly admired, asking to be in our concert series!
As for his trio mates, I had the pleasure of hearing master violinist Jessica Guideri perform beautifully with another ensemble several years ago at The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. I spoke with her after the concert and found her to be charming and warm. I was thrilled to learn that in addition to being a Los Angeles based studio musician, Jessica is also the Concertmaster of Santa Barbara Symphony!
Although I haven’t yet had the pleasure of hearing acclaimed cellist John Walz perform, I know of several award winning musician friends who have had the privilege of performing with him in duos and ensembles. I was excited to learn John is the principal cellist for the Los Angeles Opera and a recording artist in addition to his solo and chamber work. I’m excited to finally hear John play at our upcoming concert.
Suffice to say, it is an honor to have these fine musicians open our Fall 2023 Concert Season. But first, let’s break the ice and introduce them along with the story behind the music and imagery they’ve curated for us.
LRW: Is the Guideri Walz Durkovic Piano Trio a newly formed ensemble, or have you performed before? Can you please elaborate on how the collaboration formed?
TD: Jessica, John and I have performed A LOT together – we are not an “official” ensemble per se. I met Jessica through John as they both worked at the LA Opera. We all hit it off so well, we welcome the chance to play together whenever we can! We have actually performed at Ronna Binn’s home as well, where you and I met!
LRW: That’s amazing! I love hearing stories of connections through music. With so many beautiful piano trios to choose from, what were the ideas behind your choices for your Athena Foundation for the Arts October 8, 2023 concert? Why these composers? Why these selections? Why now?
TD: When choosing music to play, a lot goes into the decisions – what we are all playing at that time, what we’d like to play, what we have been asked to play, what we haven’t played before, what we think the audience would like, etc.
LRW: I can imagine! Can you please tell us more about the pieces selected for Athena’s October 2023 program?
TD: One of John’s favorite trios is the Dvořák Dumky Trio – I have never played it before, and my family heritage is Slavic, so I jumped at the chance to do it with him and Jessica for this program.
LRW: Lovely! Wait. I need to define the term Dumky for readers who are not yet familiar with that term. Okay, listen up: Dumky is the plural of Dumka. Hold on. I’m not done yet. A dumka is a Slavic (some sources state specifically Ukrainian) folk song marked by abrupt changes from melancholy to exuberant. So, Dvořák’s Opus 90 Trio gets its subtitle “Dumky” to describe the style of all six of its movements. I hope that makes sense. Tim, how nice to honor your Slavic family heritage with this performance. Very cool. What about the Brahms?
TD: The Brahms C Major trio is one of the chestnuts of the repertoire that EVERYONE loves, and has a Hungarian theme and variation as the second movement, which thematically is similar to the the Dumky Slavic folk songs that make up the basis for the Dvořák trio – thus a subtle connection.
LRW: Nice tie in. And what about the Gershwin?
TD: THEN, who doesn’t LOVE a Gershwin? To close the program, we thought something a bit lighter would be a great way to pull it all together. It is a program of pieces we all love!
LRW: Agreed! Gershwin is a fabulous way to conclude such a marvelous program. May I ask, can you please hint at the beautiful imagery or lighting effects you’ve selected for your pieces and why they were chosen?
TD: My husband is celebrity photographer Mark Liddell – I’ve always wanted to do a musical and photographic collaboration with him! He took images of sunsets that we are pairing with the heroic Brahms and the images for the Dvořák are detail shots of things that jumped out to him from our trip to Prague – where Dvořák spent a lot of his time!
LRW: I’m delighted to make your dream collaboration come true! We’re honored to have your husband’s photographic artistry enrich our program. Thanks for letting us in on the story. I meant to ask, has the Guideri Walz Durkovic Piano Trio recorded these stunning pieces, or do you have plans to do so?
TD: We have not recorded these works, and unfortunately don’t have any immediate plans to do so. Recording a program like this is a major undertaking!
LRW: For sure! Understandable. Before I let you go, I like to ask my interviewees for a favorite quote by a composer or musician to share with our readers. May I ask what are yours?
JW: One of my favorite stories – about my favorite composer to play – Johannes Brahms. He was playing one of his cello Sonatas with a cellist and as the evening went on he started playing louder and louder, finally causing the poor beleaguered cellist to proclaim, “Herr Brahms, I can no longer hear myself” to which Brahms replied, ”You’re lucky, I still can!!”
LRW: Love, love, love these! Thank you so much for the inspo. We’re excited to hear you play and meet you in person at the concert soon.
To learn more about these remarkable musicians, visit their websites and follow them on their social media platforms.
John Walz, Cellist
Eager to attend? Please see below.
Sunday, October 8, 2023
Check-in: 3:15 PM
Concert: 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM PDT
Church of Scn of the Valley
11455 Burbank Boulevard
North Hollywood, CA 91601
•This concert is hosted exclusively by The Athena Foundation for the Arts.
•It is not a church event.
•The Community Auditorium is made available for rent to nonprofits and other charitable organizations.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email us. Thank you.
FREE Parking: Farmdale Avenue lot and street parking
Purchase tickets on Eventbrite here or scan the QR code at the door. Cash or Credit card payments by Zettle/Paypal also available. Questions? Please feel free to email us. Looking forward to an inspiring concert!
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