Posted Jan. 11, 2013

Wistaria Chamber Music Society will perform a “Tango Tour” in Greenfield, MA., Brattleboro, VT., and Cambridge, MA., in February and early March.  / Also announces partnership with Plainfield Congregational Church to offer August concerts in the Berkshires.

NORTHAMPTON–The Wistaria Chamber Music Society of Western Massachusetts will take a program of Latin American music on a three-city “Tango Tour” this winter that will include the society’s first visit to the Boston area.

“Café Buenos Aires” will create the atmosphere of a nightclub in the La Boca district, with guests seated at café tables as Tango dancers step into the spotlight to live music by Piazzolla, Pujol, Ginastera, Villa-Lobos, and Hersch.

Performances in the Pioneer Valley are scheduled for Friday, Feb. 22, at 7:30 p.m.,  at the Arts Block in Greenfield, and Sunday, Feb. 24, at 3:30 p.m. at the Vermont Jazz Center in Brattleboro’s Cotton Mill. A third performance will be given at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge on Saturday, March 9.

Among the performers are Estela Olevsky, piano, Astrid Schween, ’cello, soprano Junko Watanabe, mezzo-soprano Eileen Ruby, Dúo Fusión (Sarah Swersey, flute, and Joe Belmont, guitar), and the UMASS Cello Ensemble, directed by Ms. Schween.

“This tour is the next step in our evolution as an ensemble,” said David Perkins, Wistaria’s founder and artistic director. “We’ve given many concerts over the years in Holyoke and Amherst. Now we’re taking our unusual programs and wonderful musicians to other parts of the region, as well.”

Wistaria (formerly known as Chamber Music at Wistariahurst) performed Latin American programs to full houses in the past two seasons, Perkins said, and those performances led to the Café concept. “It’s no secret that Latin American music is hugely popular. It has this irresistible, joyous energy and melodic verve. But we tend to hear a lot of music by the same one or two composers. I’ve been delighted to discover how varied the repertoire is, and that younger composers are still finding inspiration in this vein.”

“Café Buenos Aires” will feature 10 cellists from the graduate studio of Astrid Schween, a professor of cello at UMASS-Amherst and a well known solo artist, in H. Villa-Lobos’ famous Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, with soprano Junko Watanabe, and other ensemble pieces. Ms. Schween will collaborate with Ms. Olevsky, an internationally known pianist and native of Buenos Aires, in works by Astor Piazzolla and Fred Hersch. “The music sizzles when these artists two play,” Perkins said. “And Astrid’s students bring tremendous energy and commitment to whatever she gives them to do.”


In addition, the flute and guitar team of Sarah Swersey and Joe Belmont (Dúo Fusión) will perform works by Mexican composer M.D. Pujol and Brazilian Antonio Jobim, and mezzo-soprano Eileen Ruby will be heard in songs by the Argentine composer Antonio Ginastera.

The Greenfield and Brattleboro performances will be preceded by an hour-long Tango class-demonstration (for mixed levels, including beginners and just observers) led by experienced instructors Veronika Kruta (in Greenfield) and Stephen Voorhees (in Brattleboro). The classes are open to anyone who buys a concert ticket for an extra $5. The best students will be invited to perform with advanced Tango dancers in several pieces during the concert.

Perkins said Wistaria is a family of musicians who enjoy performing chamber music in unusual formats and across genres. “I want to break down artificial boundaries,” he said. “Listening to chamber music should not be like sitting for an exam. I’m not sure when that happened. It wasn’t stiff in, say, Schubert’s time, when the composer would improvise at the piano while his friends danced. At our Café, I hope people will join in the dancing.”


In other news, Wistaria and the Plainfield Congregational Church are presenting a series of chamber music concerts in August in Plainfield, MA., in the Berkshire hills. The Concerts at 7 series is free to the public and will feature many of Wistaria’s musicians and guest artists in programs of German, French, and American music. Details will be announced in the spring. The concerts are being underwritten by the Plainfield Congregational Church, individual donors and local arts councils.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to make music in such a welcoming and supportive community,” Perkins said. “So much music has been inspired by nature. It’s doubly inspiring to hear it in a lovely church, at sunset, surrounded by the quiet Berkshire hills.”  He added that the church has exceptional acoustics and a fine Baldwin grand piano.  “Frankly, it is one of the best venues for music in the region.”


Wistaria began in 2005 as a performing ensemble with two or three performances a year at Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, still its home base. Now separately incorporated, Wistaria has a roster of 20 professionals, semi-professionals and skilled amateur musicians, most of them residents of Western Massachusetts, and gives six to eight concerts a year. Past performances have included a series of Schubertiads, salon-style concerts of Schubert’s music, performed in period costume; seasonal visits to the circle of Clara and Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms; tributes to the French Impressionists (painters and composers) and the avant-garde Paris salon of the Princesse de Polignac; and programs saluting “American Mavericks,” including Mrs. H.H.A. Beach, Charles Ives, Aaron Copland, and Carl Cacioppo.

Future Wistaria programs will include a Mother’s Day (May 12) concert at Wistariahurst of German Romantic music, and, next season, French music in Wistariahurst’s recently restored gardens with dancers performing Isadora Duncan choreography. “The more we do, the more we discover that we want to do,” Perkins said. “And there are at least 900 pieces by Schubert that we have not yet touched.”

John Montanari, the classical music host of WFCR (New England Public Radio), has called the society’s performances a “New England musical pleasure.”



Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 7:30 p.m., The Arts Block, 294 Main Street, Greenfield, Tango class-demonstration at 6:30 p.m. Concert $20 for concert. $25 for class and concert.

Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, 3:30 p.m., Vermont Jazz Center, Cotton Mill Hill, Brattleboro, VT. (Second Floor, Main Entrance.) Tango class-demonstration at 2:30 p.m. Concert $20, $25 for class and concert.

Seating is limited and reservations are recommended. To reserve seats, and/or to sign up for a class-demonstration, call 413-634-5716. Please indicate the performance you are attending. For more information, including complete programs and directions to venues, please visit,


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