Fine music is never far with Sundays at Three


January 25, 2000|By John J. Snyder | John J. Snyder,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IT ISN'T widely known that Columbia is home to many classical musicians and wonderful concerts. Some of us travel to Baltimore or Washington for an evening concert -- and sit watching our neighbors perform.

Even if you don't know an adagio from a DiMaggio, you can enjoy Sundays at Three, a program that brings high-quality chamber music into our back yard.

"There are so many musicians from the BSO and other orchestras in Columbia," said Long Reach resident Mari Matsumoto, artistic director of Sundays at Three, "I am hiring them one after the other."

Now in its third year, the series runs monthly from September to May on Sundays. Concerts are held in "New Brick," the modern building of Christ Episcopal Church in the Village of Owen Brown. Established in 1728, Christ Episcopal's original building is known in our community as "Old Brick." The new building, finished in 1993, is known for its excellent acoustics.

Matsumoto, a violinist, thinks classical brass music is the best way to blow away the winter blahs. So she booked a five-piece ensemble, the Monarch Brass Quintet, for this month. Group members came from as far away as Towson and Washington.

The group performed Sunday, and the sounds of five brass instruments filled New Brick.

It was the first time a Sundays at Three audience had been treated to an all-brass ensemble, Matsumoto said. The usual fare, she added, includes violins, piano and "lots of winds."

The musicians came with diverse pedigrees: Juilliard, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and "Pershing's Own" United States Army Band.

Chris Gecker and Phil Snedecor played trumpet. Phil Munds played French horn and Chris Dudley played trombone. David T. Brown played tuba.

The program ranged from Bach to Kenny Wheeler, a contemporary composer of jazz trumpet pieces.

It was the first time the musicians came together to perform. And they were so pleased with the acoustics at New Brick, Dudley said, that they hope to record a compact disc there.

Dudley said the Monarch Brass Quintet hopes to fill the void left by the breakup five years ago of the Annapolis Brass Quintet, which had performed for more than 20 years.

Long Reach residents Carolyn and Daniel Schlanger and Donald and Diane Olson are regulars at Sundays at Three. They followed the Annapolis Brass Quintet whenever the group performed locally.

Carolyn Schlanger likes the intimacy of the New Brick performances.

"Where else can you go and sit 10 feet from the performers?" she asked.

"It's a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon," Donald Olson added.

Next in the Sundays at Three series is a pre-Valentine's Day "Champagne and Chocolates" concert Feb. 13, a $25-a-ticket fund-raiser. Students age 12 and older pay $10. Children ages 6 through 11 get in free.

Former Long Reach residents Dai Uk Lee and Yong Hi Moon will perform a program of works by Schubert, Ravel, Karel Husa and Dvorak for four-hand piano. Husa, who teaches at Cornell University, wrote "Eight Czech Duets" for Lee and Moon, who will perform the piece Feb. 13.

Lee and Moon, who are married, are former neighbors of Matsumoto and her husband, French horn player Bruce Moore.

Lee, an award-winning pianist and conductor, made his conducting debut at Carnegie Hall.

Moon, who studied in Europe, received the Chopin Prize at the Geneva International Competition in Switzerland in 1971.

The couple live in Michigan, where they are on the faculty of Michigan State University. They recently released their first recording of Czech four-hand piano pieces.

Sundays at Three concerts are informal affairs. Dress is casual, and audience members can meet the musicians at a reception after the performance.

Tickets are $12 at the door. Students ages 6 to 16 get in free with a paying adult.

Information: 410-381-3240.

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