By Alexandra Pecci
---- — Fall brings with it apples, pumpkins, vibrantly colored leaves, and a brand-new school year. But for Andover’s Julie Scolnik, it means something a bit more. As the artistic director of the Andover Chamber Music, fall is about new beginnings, and for her, it also marks the start of a brand new musical season.
“People feel it in the air,” she says. “It’s like planning a party in my home and inviting all my friends to it.”
An award-winning string quartet and an impressive roster of musicians will kick off its 16th season this Sunday at West Parish Church in Andover. This season, programs will dig deep into the work of well-known composers, starting with Mozart and Mendelssohn in a series called “Portraits of Genius.”
“This is going to be a really exciting season, with some new faces making their Andover Chamber Music debut as well as some familiar faces returning,” Scolnik says.
Among those new faces are members of the award-winning Chiara Street Quartet, made up of violinists Rebecca Fischer and Hyeyung Julie Yoon; violist Jonah Sirota; and cellist Gregory Beaver, which the Boston Globe has lauded for its “highly virtuosic, edge-of-the-seat playing.”
The Chiara Quartet will perform two pieces, “Mozart String Quartet in F Major, K. 590,” and “Mendelssohn String Quartet No. 6 in f minor, Op. 80.” It will also play with four young musicians in Mendelssohn’s “Octet, Opus 20.” Scolnik says the young players are a nod to “Opus 20,” since Mendelssohn composed the piece when he was only 16 years old.
“They’re exciting, they’re brilliant,” Scolnik says of Mozart and Mendelssohn. “These guys wrote so much amazing music at such a young age.”
The rest of the upcoming season features an all-Beethoven program in November; the annual Baroque concert, “Bach & Beyond,” in December; the annual Valentine concert, Schumann & Brahms, in February, and concludes in April with a program of Debussy & Ravel.
“They’re all major composers who’ve left such a mark on the world,” Scolnik says.
AMC aims to bring chamber music to the community in a way that’s fun and accessible, says Scolnik.
“We pride ourselves on being unstuffy,” Scolnik said.
To that end, ACM concerts include musical discussions.
“We talk a lot to the audience, explain the work, have a question and answer period,” she says. “We try to break down the barriers between audience and performer.”
West Parish Church, with its curving pews and beautiful acoustics, provides an excellent venue for that task. Audience members feel like they’re surrounding the musicians. Scolnik also encourages families to attend concerts as well.
“We always try to attract young people who don’t know how much fun chamber music can be,” she says. “They’re just feet away from this intimate musical conversation on stage.”
If you go What : Andover Chamber Music "Portraits of Genius: Mozart and Mendelssohn." Where : West Parish Church, 129 Reservation Road, Andover. When : Sunday, Sept. 23 at 3:00 pm. Cost : $30; free for students 18 and under; senior and group discounts also available. Learn more: AndoverChamberMusic.org or 978-474-6222.