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Gabriel Ensemble presents 20th anniversary grand finale Sunday

Published April 19. 2010 05:00PM

Schuylkill County's widely acclaimed resident piano quartet, the Gabriel Chamber Ensemble, will present its fourth and final concert of its 20th season on Sunday., Apr. 18, with a grand finale of orchestral music. The concert will be given at the Jerusalem Lutheran Church, 252 Dock St., Schuylkill Haven, at 3 p.m.

The ensemble will perform popular works by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1781), and Edvard Grieg (1843-1907).

The Ensemble will perform Tchaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings," which is as romantic as any of his works. "I wrote the Serenade from inner compulsion," he wrote to his patroness, Nadezhda von Meck." Premiered in 1881, "Serenade for Strings" was an instant success.

The Holberg Suite by Grieg remains one of the most frequently performed works for string orchestra. In 1884, he was one of several Scandinavian composers who were commissioned to write a commemorative piece for the celebration of the bicentennial of Norwegian writer Ludvig Baron Holberg (1684-1754), "the Moliere of the North."

Grieg called his set of short piano pieces "From Holberg's Time." Since Holberg was a contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel, Grieg composed his tribute in a form of a Baroque period keyboard suite.

Of Telemann's surviving concertos, his "Viola Concerto for G major" is among his most famous works and is regularly played today. The concerto bears the full stamp of the composer's personal artistry and his understanding of the instrument, the viola, for which he wrote this piece.

Vivaldi is known to have written only one concerto for two cellos. Throughout most of his "Two Cello Concerto," he allows the two solo instruments carry on their virtuosic and expressive dialogue with only minimal support from the orchestra.

Known as prete rosso, "the red priest," because of the color of hair that ran in his family, Vivaldi may not have invented the ritornello form of the Baroque concerto, but he established its form as the basic approach to concerto composition in nearly 500 works.

Guest artists joining the ensemble for the Apr. 18 concert are violinists Rebecca Brown, Inna Eyzerovich, Barbara Jaffe, Linda Kistler, and Mary Ogletree; violist Louise Jaffe; cellist Deborah Davis; and bassist Domenic Fiore.

Tickets will be available at the door. The concert will be followed by a fundraising dinner at the Oak Hill Inn, Orwigsburg. Reservations are required. Telephone (570) 943-2558 for more information.

The Gabriel Chamber Ensemble is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to presenting quality performances of chamber music to audiences in Schuylkill County and beyond. Although its basic formation is a piano quartet, the ensemble frequently hosts professional guest artists to offer a wide selection of chamber music masterpieces.

Ensemble members are Simon Maurer, New Ringgold, violin; Agnes Maurer, New Ringgold, viola; Gerall Hieser, Bernardsville, N.J., cello; and Anita Gordon, Whippany, N.J., piano.

In 2009, the GCE received the Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau's tenth annual tourism award in the Tourism Business/Organization category. The award recognized the ensemble because it "exposes the community to classical music with young people to enhance their appreciation of music."

The ensemble's 2009- 2010 season is supported by grants from the Schuylkill County Council for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Snayberger Foundation, the Schuylkill Area Community Foundation, and series subscribers and patrons.

For more information, write: Gabriel Chamber Ensemble, P.O. Box 36, Orwigsburg, PA 17961; telephone (570) 943-2558; e-mail; or visit on the Web.

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