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September 9, 2009 > The music of friends and the salon experience

The music of friends and the salon experience

By Janet Grant

What is at once old and new? Traditional yet innovative? Formal but intimate? Fremont's own Music at the Mission Classical Chamber Music series, of course. Approaching its fifth season, Music at the Mission promises even more of its signature "Chamber Music outside the Box" style of repertoire. And it is bursting out of the box on Sunday, September 13 with a special fundraising event, the first in its "Salon Series Performances."

Chamber music is a form of classical music, written for a small group of instruments which traditionally fit in a palace chamber. More broadly it describes any art music that's performed by a small number of performers with one performer to a part. The word "chamber" signifies that the music can be performed in a small room, often in a private salon with an intimate atmosphere. Because of this "intimate" nature, chamber music has been described as "the music of friends."

Salon music was a popular music genre in Europe during the 19th century. It was usually written for solo piano in the romantic style, and often performed by the composer at events known as "salons." At a music salon composers like Chopin and Liszt premiered their works for an elite group of invited guests at the home of a patron or patroness of the arts.

Aileen Chanco, Director and Artistic Director of Music at the Mission explains that the experience of listening to and playing chamber music in a salon was very much a social event in the 19th Century and earlier. "The intimacy and intensity of music is very much magnified in such a close setting, less than 20 feet from the performers - quite different than in a large concert hall."

Music at the Mission believes that this type of experience of being up front and personal with some of the finest chamber musicians in the Bay Area can be a unique and profound concert experience. "Which is why we look to presenting these Salon Series Performances in some of the most beautiful homes in the Tri-City Area," adds Ms. Chanco.

The upcoming September 13 performance, catered by Gael Stewart of Mission Coffee Roasting Company, begins with wine and hors d'oeuvres and feature Bay Area cellist, Michael Graham and pianist Aileen Chanco in a performance of Stravinsky's "Suite Italienne" and Rachmaninoff's "Sonata for Cello and Piano in G Minor." The romantic Rachmaninoff Sonata and the light, cheery tones of Stravinsky's work will be wonderfully complimented at the beautiful home of Steve and Edith Pietkiewicz, where one of Fremont's finest pianos resides _ a 9-foot Bosendorfer!

"Chamber Music is all about 'connecting' and 'conversing' among the artists and the audience, through music," Ms. Chanco explains. "Music is a universal language that can connect people on a soul level." The intimate setting of a salon is the perfect vehicle for that one-of-a-kind sharing between musician and listener.

Sharing musical language and the one-of-a-kind interaction of a salon is uniquely portrayed with Music at the Mission's own regular concert series. What the audience gets with the salon experience still holds true even in historic Mission San Jose's larger setting.

Music at the Mission performances bring the same intimacy between artist and audience with exciting and innovative chamber works that range from traditional to modern, and everything in-between. And reminiscent of the salon, a champagne and dessert reception after the performance allows connecting and conversation between artist and audience even after the music is over.

Co-Artistic Director Bill Everett describes the upcoming season as full of a wide range of music from the romantic 19th century to a thematic program of 20th century music reflecting on War. The acclaimed actor David Ogden Stiers returns to Music at the Mission to narrate another "Music and the Spoken Word" concert. Though known as a consummate actor, Mr. Stiers is also a classically trained musician who has conducted orchestras around the country. He adds his own unique brand of talent to musical vignettes that include a piece entirely inspired by recipes to a tale of Sherlock Holmes. Also featured will be the world premiere of a newly commissioned piece by Bay Area composer, Mark Fish.

The new season promises chamber works that are new, different, and fun as well as traditional. Music at the Mission consistently delivers the sort of experiences that you just can't find in other venues in the Bay Area. Along with the regular concert series, there will also be two more fundraising events - the Mission Masquerade Ball at Best House, Palmdale Estates on February 7 and the other Salon Series Performance at a private home on April 25.

Music at the Mission is a Classical Chamber Music Series dedicated to the cultural vitality of Fremont and the Tri-City Area. Its mission is to provide artistic excellence through the presentation of engaging and exceptional chamber music concerts in one of California's historic sites, Old Mission San Jose; to provide accessibility through outreach programs and educational pre-concert talks; and to help create a support system for young musicians to ensure the development and longevity of classical music.

Hearken back to an earlier time and experience chamber music the way it use to be, join Music at the Mission's first fundraiser of the year, the "Salon Series Performance." Support Music at the Mission's fifth season and truly experience classical chamber music at its most vital, beautiful, resonant, and sometimes quirky form, all up close and personal. Music at the Mission - the best gig in town!

For more information, visit

"Salon Series Performance"
Sunday, September 13
1:00 p.m.
At the home of Mr. and Mrs. Steve Pietkiewicz
Tickets, $75

RSVP E-mail:
For both "Salon Series Performances," RSVP E-mail:

2009-2010 concert season:
Tickets $25/20 or $50 for Season Subscription (3 concerts for the price of 2!)

See for tickets to "The Mission Masquerade Ball"

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