Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble’s 2016-17 season is already underway. This year, the group aims beyond its traditional repertoire. 

click to enlarge MICHAEL IVES
  • Michael Ives

Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble’s 2016-17 season is already underway. This year, the group aims beyond its traditional repertoire.

Brightmusic’s shows are held on occasional Tuesday nights at St. Paul’s Cathedral, 127 NW Seventh St. Its chamber music exhibitions usually feature trios and quartets, but co-artistic director Chad Burrow said this year, it is also including nonets (a group of nine musicians) and other more unusual arrangements.

Larger groups necessitate the use of a conductor, something new for Brightmusic.

“There are a few great works for these larger combinations, and the use of a conductor helps to facilitate the performance of them,” Burrow wrote in an email interview with Oklahoma Gazette.

Burrow has performed with Brightmusic since the ensemble began 14 seasons ago. He has served as artistic director with fellow founding member Amy I-Lin Cheng for the past 11 seasons.

The former Oklahoma City Philharmonic clarinetist said large combinations, like the 13 winds planned for the season’s final program May 2, often fall through the cracks between chamber and symphonic music.

“We wanted to highlight the diversity of instrumental combinations this year more than ever and perform some of these rarely heard gems,” Burrow said.
The first performance of the season, Russian Revelations, was Sept. 13. The next program, Chamber Music Reconstructed, is 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 and features Oklahoma City Philharmonic conductor Joel Levine.

Johannes Brahms’ “Serenade No. 1 in D Major, op. 11” and Jean Sibelius’ “En Saga” septet are scheduled for the concert. Burrow said both were reconstructed from the sketches and fragments that exist.

“These two works exist in a full orchestral version, but the original chamber versions had to be reconstructed based off of the composer’s notes, sketches and comparisons with the larger orchestral works,” he said. “Both are quite successful and a wonderful addition to the repertoire.”

After this show, Brightmusic takes a break for the holiday season. Lands Near and Far, the first show of 2017, is 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17.

The concert features works from Armenia, Hungary, England and the United States, but the theme extends beyond that. Two planned works include texts that Burrow said take the audience to far-off lands. In one song, the accompanying text describes a conversation between a living man and a dead one.

“In a sense, the far-off places are even otherworldly,” Burrow said.

Aside from guest conductors Levine and the University of Michigan’s Michael Haithcock (set to appear at the ensemble’s May 2 show), Brightmusic does not plan to invite in any other outside performers this season.

“There is such a wealth of great musicians in Oklahoma City that there is not a strong feeling that we need to always bring in guests,” Burrow said, adding that organizers will likely consider inviting guests again in future seasons.

Burrow said he works closely with Cheng to build each season while considering a number of factors, some of them not even related to music, like budget and personnel issues.

Burrow said the chance to build a new season and present the audience with something new and exciting is a labor of love.

“We love working with our colleagues and presenting a wide variety of great music to our Oklahoma City family,” he said.

Visit for a full schedule of concerts.

Print Headline: Music man, Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble welcomes large combinations and guest conductors, including Joel Levine, in its 2016-17 season.

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