When cellist Raphael Bell and violinist and violist Timothy Summers started wishing for a hometown festival that celebrated chamber music and gave them opportunities to bring talented friends to town, they soon knew that the answer was to create their own.
Two decades later, the Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival still is going strong. Each September, it brings a trademark mix of stars on the rise, veteran guests, classic works and new compositions to a variety of local venues. Bell and Summers, who performed together in the Charlottesville High School Orchestra and attended the Juilliard School before launching international music careers, remain co-artistic directors of their festival.
This year’s festival begins with a concert at 3 p.m. Sunday in the University of Virginia’s Cabell Hall Auditorium. Performing selections by Gyorgy Kurtag, Johannes Brahms and Arnold Schoenberg will be violinists James Ehnes and Summers, violists Yuma Lee and David Quiggle, cellists Edward Arron and Bell, Jeroen Berwaerts on trumpet and Andrew Armstrong on piano.
The festival’s annual Free Community Concert is coming up at 12:30 p.m. Monday at the Paramount Theater. Listen for works by Jean-Baptiste Barriere, Antonin Dvorak and Ludwig van Beethoven performed by Ehnes, Summers, Quiggle, Arron, Bell and Armstrong.
It’s followed at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday by a Paramount Theater concert featuring works by Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, Ottorino Respighi, George Enescu and Dvorak. Violinists Ehnes, Lee and Summers; violist Quiggle; cellists Arron and Bell; Berwaerts; Armstrong; and clarinetist Matthew Hunt will perform.
Wednesday brings a special event in IX Art Park’s Indoor Space. The festival’s Cabaret Evening, at 7:30 p.m., offers everything from songs by Jacques Brel to spirituals to dances to percussion selections to a few surprises. Listen for soprano Ariadne Greif, violist Nicholas Cords, Berwaerts, Summers, Quiggle, Arron, Bell, Hunt, Armstrong and Gold.
Another free lunchtime escape is coming up at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 12. Strings at Midday will be presented at Christ Episcopal Church. Cellist Cameron Crozman, Cords and Bell will present musical selections by J.S. Bach, Caroline Shaw and Benjamin Britten.
Friday the 13th brings a performance in the V. Earl Dickinson Building at Piedmont Virginia Community College. The 7:30 p.m. program features works by Leos Janacek, Giacomo Puccini, Respighi, Francis Poulenc and Luciano Beria. Violinist Jennifer Frautschi, flutist Sooyun Kim, harpist Jessica Zhou, percussionists I-Jen Fang and Matthew Gold, pianist Benjamin Hochman and Greif will be joined by Cords, Crozman, Summers, Bell and Hunt.
The festival returns to Cabell Hall Auditorium for a 3 p.m. Sept. 15 concert with works by Maurice Ravel, Albert Rousseau, Camille Saint-Saens and Olivier Messaien. You’ll hear Frautschi, Summers, Cords, Bell, Crozman, Kim, Hunt, Zhou and Hochman.
A Conversation with Tim Summers is planned for 6 p.m. Sept. 16 at New Dominion Bookshop. Summers will present “The Signal in Your Hands: thoughts on 20 years of transformation in chamber music,” which will include selections from Bach and Berio.
Another concert is set for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18 in Piedmont’s V. Earl Dickinson Building. Violinist Aki Sauliere and pianist Mimi Solomon will join Summers, Quiggle and Bell for a program that’ll include pieces by Felix Mendelssohn, Paul Schoenfield and Frank Schubert.
Tickets range from $25 to $6 for students, and there are a variety of package options. Learn more about the performers and programs online at cvillecham bermusic.org, or dial (434) 295-5395.