Monday, September 30, 2013

Chamber Music Charleston House Concert Series begins

Sunday, September 29 was a perfect day for a house concert.  The morning started nice and cool, making it easy to pack 65 folding chairs into a minivan along with some nice wine, papers, plates and tablecloths.

At 12:30 I began my drive downtown and was fortunate to find the perfect parking spot on the battery, directly in front of 5 East Battery, the Palmer Home - also affectionately called "The Pink Palace."

Ever since we began presenting House Concerts, Francis Palmer has welcomed us into her beautiful Bed and Breakfast at least once each season.  I always look forward to our performances here, where we are able to set our musicians up in the beautiful bay window overlooking the Charleston Battery.

The Sunday performance would feature two violins, cello and harpsichord.  Soon after I arrived, I was greeted by our fantastic caterer, Jean Carlton, who had already began preparing the post-concert reception.  Next, volunteers arrived to set up the chairs and prepare for the concert.  Once our harpsichordist (Julia Harlow) and cellist (Timothy O'Malley) arrived, we were able to bring the harpsichord up the winding staircase to the second floor.

Yes, for each of our performances featuring harpsichord we get to move a gorgeous harpsichord in and out of each venue!

Luckily, Tim had ample harpsichord training as a student at the Oberlin Conservatory and Julia Harlow is an expert at directing us on how to move the delicate instrument.  With myself and our concert assistant/young violin student Karl Pless on hand, we were all able to safely bring the harpsichord upstairs.

Before I knew it, the musicians had all arrived and were warming up in the concert area and our volunteers were all in place to greet the audience.

It is hard to explain what happens when the audience arrives, but it is magical.  The weather yesterday was exquisite and the door was open to welcome guests in.  At first a few arrive, two by two, and made their way up the grand staircase and choose their seats.  As more arrived, friends greeted each other and delightful conversation filled the air.  The room filled up with only a couple chairs available, and before I know it, it was 3 o'clock.  After checking in with the musicians I walked in front of the audience and welcomed everyone.

It is always such a special feeling to introduce the first House Concert of the season.  While we perform a wide variety of concerts in an assortment of venues, it is our House Concerts that are the foundation of what we do.  In these concerts the musicians are so close to the audience, the audience truly feels a part of the performance.  Lighthearted banter before the pieces help put the audience (and musicians) at ease, and before we know it, the hour had flown by.

Yesterday's performance ended with a chamber version of Bach's double violin concerto, played beautifully by Frances Hsieh and Jenny Weiss.  It was a perfect ending to a wonderful concert.  Soon after the final notes disappeared in the air, the audience showed their gratitude with warm applause and then everyone was off to the dining room and piazza to enjoy a light reception.

I can not think of a better way to spend a Charleston Sunday afternoon!