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Baby Grand

Visit from stork means shift in Schumann's concert schedule
Robert Faires, 11:00am, Wed. Jan. 9, 2013
Courtesy of Austin Chamber Music Center
Acclaimed pianist, artistic director, and now mother-to-be

Nobody is ever happy when they have to postpone or drop out of a concert, and Michelle Schumann is no exception. But the Austin Chamber Music Center artistic director at least has a happy reason for doing so with some ACMC concerts this spring: She's expecting. In April, Schumann and her husband, Matt Orem, will welcome a baby girl into their family.

Schumann went public with the joyful news in an email to the center's subscribers just before Christmas. Naturally, this wasn't a consideration when Schumann agreed to play in the season's concerts, and it meant rethinking some of those commitments – especially the one set for two days after her due date! So the email served a double purpose in that she wanted her audience to know what changes would be coming in the concert schedule for the remainder of the season.

The good news for Schumann fans who can't bear to miss her playing is that she'll still be at the keyboard for two of the three spring concerts. The Mozart's Birthday concerts on Jan. 25 & 26 will go on just as advertised, with Schumann and the Aeolus String Quartet performing a trio, quartet, and a piano concerto by Wolfgang Amadeus. And the ACMC director will also play the March 1 & 2 concerts with music by the busiest composer in Austin, Graham Reynolds, although the nature of that program has changed. Rather than the promised world premiere solo piano program of Reynolds' music – which will definitely happen in a future season, Schumann assures us – a different premiere will happen in its place: a brand-new arrangement of the "Cult of Color Suite" that Reynolds composed for Ballet Austin, scored for piano quintet. Schumann will again be joined by the Aeolus String Quartet, which will fill out the program with Puccini's "(Chrysanthemums) Elegy for String Quartet" and Sibelius' "Voce Intimae" string quartet.

The concert that Schumann has had to withdraw from was the season finale on April 12 & 13. Titled String Theory, it includes sonatas for violin and piano by Schubert, Brahms, and the contemporary Turkish composer Fazil Say. The program will stay the same, and violinist Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio is still flying down from Reno, where she teaches at the University of Nevada, to play, but her partner in String Theory will now be the esteemed Butler School of Music piano professor Gregory Allen. (He's not only an accomplished pianist and a winner of the Arthur Rubenstein International Piano Competition, but also one of Schumann's college instructors.) Not a replacement that you can find fault with – and quite likely a spectacular pairing.

We're sorry that she's having to juggle the concert schedule, but we couldn't be more pleased for the reason and send our heartfelt congratulations to Schumann and Orem. For more information about the season – or the new little Schumann – visit www.austinchambermusic.org.

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