The Austin Chronicle

Austin Chamber Music Festival

Turning 10 and making a change

By Robert Faires, June 30, 2006, Arts

For a full decade now, summer has meant more than broiling heat to Felicity Coltman. It's been the season of the Austin Chamber Music Festival, a time when the director of the Austin Chamber Music Center has led a celebration of the intimate joys of chamber music, showcasing it in its myriad forms – such as performances from some of the city's most accomplished classical musicians and distinguished visitors, like the Duo Turgeon piano team, in venues across the city. So it's been for nine summers, and this year will be no different, although it's been scaled back to a half-dozen evening concerts. Still, the pride Coltman takes in the festival marking its 10th year may be mixed with a little sadness, as it will be her last as director. After steering the organization for 25 years, she's letting someone else step up and do the organizational heavy lifting. (And that will be award-winning pianist Michelle Schumann, she of the annual John Cage birthday concerts.) If you've never indulged in the pleasures of the Austin Chamber Music Festival, this would be a fine year to start. You can enjoy and offer a valedictory thanks to the woman who started it all.

The concerts begin with the now-traditional evening of elegance in the Driskill Hotel. Maestro Peter Bay of the Austin Symphony conducts an outstanding ensemble in a program of Russian delicacies, including Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 1 and Stravinsky's Octet for Winds. And you can even bid on the baton that the maestro wields that night in a live auction that supports the festival. Wednesday, July 5, at the Driskill, 604 Brazos.

Next comes Symphonic Elevations, with Duo Turgeon and a string quartet performing Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 arranged for piano, four hands, and Brahms' Piano Quintet in F minor. Saturday, July 8, at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, 4700 Grover.

The Lineage of Legacy features Cuarteto Latinoamericano and a trio of Coltmans – Felicity and Heather on piano, Margaret on cello – with more Shostakovich (String Quartet No. 3) and a little Mozart and del Aguila. Tuesday, July 11, at Congregation Agudas Achim, 7300 Hart.

With 4midable 4tets, the Maia Quartet tackles – what else? – string quartets by Grieg, Beethoven, and, you guessed it, Shostakovich. Saturday, July 15, at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, 4700 Grover.

Poet of the Piano shifts the spotlight onto Frederick Chopin and his chamber music, with almost a dozen works performed by Anne Louise-Turgeon and the present and future ACMC directors, Felicity Coltman and Michelle Schumann. Tuesday, July 18, at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, 4700 Grover.

This year's festival concludes with Lasting Impressions, a program dedicated the great French Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne, who died 100 years ago. Music includes pieces by Debussy, Ravel, Roussel, and Gordon Jones, performed by an all-star ensemble of string players, wind instrumentalists, vocalists, and pianists. Saturday, July 22, at Austin Waldorf School, 8702 S. View.

All concerts begin at 7:30pm. For more information, call 454-0026 or visit

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