The world on a string
Nevada Chamber Music Festival
Theodore Kuchar, the music director and conductor of the Reno Chamber Orchestra, is so passionate about chamber music that he is giving up his winter break to play it, and many of the world’s most talented musicians will be coming to Reno to play with him.
For the past 14 years, Kuchar has served as artistic director of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, regarded internationally as the pre-eminent chamber music festival held in the southern hemisphere. This winter, he and the Reno Chamber Orchestra bring that same level of artistic excellence to Reno by presenting the second annual Nevada Chamber Music Festival. Kuchar himself will be playing viola alongside internationally renowned musicians, including performers from this year’s Australian Festival.
“It’s really the only week of the year that you could get all these musicians in the same city,” said Scott Faulkner, who serves as executive director of the RCO and the Nevada Chamber Music Festival. Faulkner will also be playing string bass in the festival.
Because many of the performers play in symphony orchestras across the country or abroad, Faulkner noted, they are essentially giving up their end-of-the-year vacations to participate in the festival. Unlike many other events of this type, which occur in the summer, the Nevada festival happens in late December, giving listeners a rare opportunity.
Featured performers include James Buswell, a Grammy-nominated recording artist; Alena Ondrisikova, solo violist of the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra of the Czech Republic; a number of principle players from the Cleveland Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; and Reno locals Faulkner, John Lenz, James Winn and Ruth Lenz.
“It’s a great chance to show off the talent that we have here in Reno,” Faulkner said. “They could be anywhere, and they choose to live here.” To new listeners and residents, this may come as a surprise. But it’s no secret to those familiar with the performances regularly given by these musicians in the RCO and the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra. The festival will showcase these musicians, as well as help to establish Reno as an international destination for performers and listeners.
In addition, the festival’s chamber ensembles will allow musicians who normally play in chamber orchestras of 30-40 or philharmonic orchestras of 70-80 people to play in settings that may include as few as one person.
“It’s much more intimate,” says Faulkner. “It’s like a conversation between two or three or four people. There’s much more give and take. There’s so much more room for interpretation and subtle nuances.” Many of the chamber pieces planned for the festival are quieter, more meditative works that require the listener’s full attention.
This year, many of the concerts are programmed thematically. Performances include a concert featuring the music of Czech composers, an all-Bach concert featuring two of the Brandenburg concertos, a “Mozart 250th Birthday Celebration,” a “New Year’s Celebration” ending with the music of Johann Strauss played by all festival participants and a family concert of Poulenc’s Babar the Elephant. With virtuoso musicians and an eclectic repertoire, the second annual Nevada Chamber Music Festival promises to be a holiday treat for music lovers, as well as the beginning of an important musical event for Reno.