2016-2017 Season

Axelrod Quartet Series

Saturday dates >>
Sunday dates >>

Masterworks of Five Centuries Series

Saturday dates >>
Sunday dates >>

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Smithsonian Chamber Music Society
2016-2017 Season Subscriptions and Single Tickets
On Sale Starting August 31, 2016

The Axelrod Quartet Series      Masterworks of Five Centuries Series

The 40th season of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society (SCMS) features masterpieces from the early 17th to the early 21st century, played on some of the world’s most highly prized instruments. Two series, featuring the SCMS’s acclaimed artists, offer musical feasts simply unobtainable anywhere but the Smithsonian. The full season is performed in the chic and comfortable new Hall of Music in the American History Museum.

Kenneth Slowik, artistic director and recipient of the Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar Award, curates a series of pre-concert lectures (one hour prior to each program), shedding light on the glorious music and the life and times of the featured composers.

To learn more about the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society, click here.

The Axelrod String Quartet Series

members of the Axelrod QuartetSmithsonian Chamber Music Society audiences are privy to the unparalleled opportunity of hearing two magnificent quartets of instruments—one made by Antonio Stradivari, the other by his teacher Nicolò Amati—in this popular three-concert series.

The season opens in November with a string quartet adaptation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Die Kunst der Fuge (The Art of Fugue), BWV 1080. The four voices of the string quartet bring fresh clarity to the exquisite counterpoint of this masterful work, written during the final decade of Bach’s life.

Over the remainder of the season, the Axelrod Quartet concludes its traversal of Haydn’s Op. 76 quartets, and presents works of other Viennese composers: Webern and Brahms (January), and Haydn’s pupil Beethoven (March).

The final concerts of the series introduce the Rolston Quartet, the graduate-quartet-in-residence at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. This gifted young ensemble, which was grand prize winner of the Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition and took prizes in both the M-Prize and Bordeaux International String Quartet Competitions, joins the Axelrod players in the last of Louis Spohr’s four innovative double quartets, utilizing both sets of instruments.

General Details:

  • All Axelrod concerts are from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.; pre-concert lecture is from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m.
  • There are two Axelrod subscriptions to pick from: Saturday dates (Code BPP8) or Sunday dates (Code: BPP9).
  • All concerts will be held at the new Hall of Music in the American History Museum.

Concert Schedule

Sat., Nov. 19, 2016; Sun., Nov. 20, 2016
Johann Sebastian Bach: The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080

Sat., Jan. 14, 2017; Sun., Jan. 15, 2017
Joseph Haydn: Quartet in D Major, Op. 76, No. 5
Anton Webern: Langsamser Satz
Johannes Brahms: Quartet in A Minor, Op. 51, No. 2

Sat., March 18, 2017; Sun., March 19, 2017
Joseph Haydn: Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 76, No. 6
Ludwig van Beethoven: Quartet in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2

Louis Spohr: Double Quartet in G Minor, Op. 136
Featuring The Rolston Quartet: Luri Lee and Jeffrey Dyrda, violins; Hezekiah Leung, viola; Jonathan Lo, violoncello

Masterworks of Five Centuries Series

Smithsonian Chamber Music SocietyThis six-concert series features several ensembles including the The Smithsonian Chamber Players, Smithsonian Consort of Viols, and the Esterházy Machine.

The season opens in October with a turn-of-the-century Viennese program containing two contrasting works of Arnold Schönberg: his Dvorák-like D major quartet of 1897, and his monumental D minor quartet of 1904-05, which is formally a small-scale analogue to the First Chamber Symphony heard at the conclusion of last season.

The Smithsonian Consort of Viols makes another January outing, with a program centered around works of Alfonso Ferrabosco and Orlando Gibbons for viols and organ.

In February, two of California’s top period-instrument players, Katherine Kyme and William Skeen, join Kenneth Slowik for four of Haydn’s inventive fortepiano trios from the late 1780s.

Slowik celebrates his 40th season as a member of the Smithsonian Chamber Players with a pair of all-Bach recitals at the beginning of April. Later that month, the theme is again late-19th-century Viennese, with two of the greatest chamber works of Brahms: the warmly gemütlich A major piano-and-violin sonata, and the haunting, autumnally beautiful clarinet quintet, one of the pieces Brahms wrote after he was seduced to end his self-imposed compositional retirement by the artistry of clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld.

The season ends on a festive note, with the Esterházy Machine presenting a sampling of the 126 baryton trios Haydn wrote for his music-loving employer Prince Nikolaus Esterháy “The Magnificent,” and Robert Schumann’s genial piano quartet of 1842.

General Details:

  • All Masterworks concerts are from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.; pre-concert lecture is from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m.
  • There are two Masterworks subscriptions to pick from: Saturday dates (Code BPQ1) or Sunday dates (Code: BPQ2).
  • All concerts will be held at the new Hall of Music in the American History Museum

Concert Schedule

Sat., Oct. 8, 2016; Sun., Oct. 9, 2016
Krzysztof Penderecki: Leaves of an Unwritten Diary
Samuel Barber: Adagio from the String Quartet, Op. 11
Arnold Schoenberg: Quartet in D Minor, Op. 7
The Smithsonian Chamber Players
Mark Fewer and Audrey Wright, violin; Steven Dann, viola; Kenneth Slowik, violoncello

Sat., Jan. 7, 2017; Sun., Jan. 8, 2017
English Consort Music of the Elizabethan and Jacobean Eras
The Smithsonian Consort of Viols
Kenneth Slowik, Rebekah Ahrendt, Loren Ludwig, Catherine Slowik and Arnie Tanimoto, viols; with Webb Wiggins, organ

Sat., Feb. 25, 2017; Sun., Feb. 26, 2017
Joseph Haydn: Piano Trios of the 1780s
The Smithsonian Chamber Players
Kenneth Slowik, fortepiano; Katherine Kyme, violin; William Skeen, violoncello

Sat., April 8, 2017; Sun., March 9, 2017
Music of Johann Sebastian Bach
Kenneth Slowik

Sat., April 29, 2017; Sun., April 30, 2017
Johannes Brahms: Violin Sonata in A Major, Op. 78;
Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115
The Smithsonian Chamber Players
Vera Beths and Meredith Riley, violin; Steven Dann, viola; Kenneth Slowik, violoncello and piano; Charles Neidich, clarinet

Sat., May 6, 2017; Sun., May 7, 2017
Joseph Haydn: Trios “fatto per S.A.S. Prencipe Estorhazi”
Robert Schumann: Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47
The Esterházy Machine
Steven Dann, viola; Myron Lutzke, violoncello; Kenneth Slowik, baryton and piano; with Ian Swensen, violin


Programs, locations, and artists subject to change.