MUSIC REVIEW: Tuesday Musical “October Octets” @ E.J. Thomas Hall by Lisa DeBenedictis

Wed 10/30

The Akron-based Tuesday Musical Association, one of the country’s oldest classical music presenter, now in its 131st year, has launched a phenomenal 2019-2020 season — even by its own preeminent standard. Outgoing executive and artistic director Jarrod Hartzler (he was recently named executive director of Ohio Alliance for Arts Education) and interim executive director/director of development and communications Cyndee Snider have created a season featuring many of the world’s most illustrious and esteemed classical and jazz musicians.

This week’s Main Stage concert at E.J. Thomas Hall, October Octets, featured a marriage between Tuesday Musical’s artists-in-residence the Escher Quartet and the celebrated Dover Quartet, who opened with an impassioned world premier string octet by Cleveland-born Gregg Kallor, Tuesday Musical’s first composer-in-residence.

Kallor’s String Octet premiered to thunderous ovations.  A newly wedded Kallor (to pianist Dasha Koltunyuk) dedicated this new piece to his parents. “I’m grateful to them for so much, for everything, really. My parents approach their fiftieth wedding anniversary as I begin my own marriage. Two individuals, one union. Two ensembles, one composition. Together. Complete.”

Kallor’s piece is marriage of two world-class quartets. The interaction and cooperation between them goes even deeper: Dover violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt and Escher cellist Brook Speltz are married. The octet’s origins go back to all eight having met and influenced one another musically at the Curtis Institute of Music.

After Kallor’s impassioned opening, the octet preformed an eerily Halloween-appropriate and wildly gripping piece written for a string octet in 1925 by Dmitri Shostakovich. The concert ended with an ardent and aesthetically magnificent performance of George Enescu’s Octet for Strings, in C Major, Op.7.

Tuesday Musical Association has long been admired for its significance but under the direction of Hartzler, who has led the organization since 2013, it’s gained respect as a trusted voice of globally magnificent musical performance. The remainder of this season’s Main Stage and Fuze concerts should match the intensity of this impressive concert. The octet will perform together in over 20 cities in the coming months.

[Written by Lisa DeBenedictis]

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