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Musings about the CMSFW 2016-2017 Season

The Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth (CMSFW) is now selling season tickets, and I’m personally excited by the lineup of concerts. The homepage ( has the dates and players involved in all the concerts, and there are links from each that tell you what music will be performed by those musicians.

I intend to go to them all, but am particularly psyched by the first concert featuring one of the great American clarinetist (Franklin Cohen - of our time performing favorite pieces of mine. Most people don’t know that Bruch wrote some wonderful compositions for clarinet, but you’ll get to hear some of them. Also on the program is the ever popular Clarinet Quintet by Mozart.

Believe it or not, my all-time favorite clarinet chamber piece is the one on this first program by Hindemith. This is not the “spikey” Kammermusik that many associate with this composer. Rather, this (as well as other chamber works by Hindemith) is a lush, sonorous, and totally romantic piece of music. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say that most people will leave this concert actually favoring Hindemith over Mozart.

If you wish to seek out recordings of this music, I recommend the following:

  • “Max Bruch, Works for Clarinet and Viola” on the French label Erato, recorded in 1990 with Paul Meyer on clarinet. WRR 101.1 FM often plays pieces from this recording, which is how I first learned of it many years ago.

  • “Hindemith Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano” by the Boston Symphony Chamber Players on the Arabesque Recordings label from 1998.

  • “Mozart Clarinet Quintet” – recordings of this piece are far too numerous to count, but a very dreamy recording I can highly recommend is by the world famous German clarinetist Karl Leister accompanied by the Vermeer String Quartet. The Vermeer performed Hadyn’s “Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross” for CMSFW a few season ago.

All but one of this seasons concerts by CMSFW are at The Modern’s auditorium on Saturdays at 2:00 p.m., with the March 4th concert being at the Renzo Piano Pavilion of the Kimbell. Parking is free at both museums, and it’s underground at the Kimbell.

That said, do yourself a favor and get to the concert hall by 1:15 so you can hear the pre-concert talk. One of this country’s leading musicologists, Laurie Schulman, adds so much to our understanding of the music with her pre-concert lectures on what shapes the music. This includes appropriate biographical details of the composer life and music, what was going on in the life of the composer at the time the pieces were written (including the socio political and socio economic forces at play), as well as specific things to listen for musically that include recorded excerpts.

What are my motivations for promoting this music? Besides being a recent addition to the board of CMSFW, music has played a key role in my life. I played clarinet over 25 years, mostly as a student and amateur but occasionally got paid for it (most of my professional work was on sax).

My wife (music was responsible for bringing us together, but that’s another story) grew up with classical orchestral music while I had grown up with jazz. Her interests sparked a greater level of appreciation for classical music in me, and while living in Dallas, we eventually got season tickets to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and held them for many, many years.

Not long after, a professional musician and teacher who we are still great friends with with gave us tickets to a concert of chamber music being sponsored by what was then called the Richardson Chamber Music Society (they eventually became what today is known as the International Chamber Music Society). We found chamber music to be a revelation, and eventually became huge fans. By this point we were, to be frank, turning into music snobs.

Our move to Fort Worth almost ten years ago was another turning point musically. Here, we continually were amazed by all the great music being performed not only at Bass Hall, but at TCU and elsewhere. We found it so easy to make connections in this town and much of the time concerts we attended were either free or of nominal cost. Of course, we were still attracted to chamber music, and eventually gravitated to whatever was going on, like the Mimir festival and occasional CMSFW concerts.

What most recently turned things around was when Gary Levinson became artistic director of CMSFW three years ago. At that time, I started realizing that CMSFW was sponsoring concerts of a greater and more varied repertoire, being performed by internationally famous musicians who I had recordings of, but had never had the chance to hear live. I simply could not believe how lucky we were, getting the chance to hear performances of such an exceptional level. This was not just the occasional concert, but each and every one featured music and musicians I just had to hear. Needless to say, my wife and I soon became season ticket holders and ardent supporters.

Speaking of tickets, CMSFW season tickets give you all seven concerts for the price of just six. Regularly $210.00, the cost is just $180.00 for seniors and just $30.00 for students. Single concert tickets are $35, $30, and $5 respectively. If you wish to purchase tickets by mail instead of through the Website, just mail your check to CMSFW at the following address:

2501 Parkview Dr., Suite 317E

Fort Worth, Texas 76102


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