The new DoCha (Downtown Champaign) Chamber Music Festivalbenefit performance on Thursday evening at the Indi Go Artist Cooperative was a success on several fronts, the exec director said..
The non-profit festival, the brainstorm of Grammy-winning Pacifica Quartet violist Masumi Rostad, took in $500 in donations for the festival’s young artist chamber music competition.
Opera star Nathan Gunn and his wife, Julie, a piano accompanist, were not able to attend but promised to match dollar-for-dollar, up to $500, the contributions. So now they have to shell out.
Sally Takada Bernhardsson, festival exece director, said additional donations came in Thursday evening for general festival expenses. The benefit also generated enthusiasm for the second DoCha festival, on April 1, 2 and 3 at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum.
The festival is entirely free for listeners. What a great opportunity for local folks to hear, maybe for the first time, chamber music performed by world-class musicians, most of them University of Illinois School of Music faculty members..
Berhardsson, wife of Pacifica Quartet violnist Sibbi Bernhardsson, said the benefit on Thursday drew chamber music fans as well as others who had never experienced the music before..
Most of the latter group stood or sat on the upper level of Indi Go, where found a seat to peer down to the lower levell and see the most excellent Pacifica Quartet perform the adagia and finale of the first movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet, Opus 18.
First though, William Kinderman, a Beethoven expert and UI musicology professor, introduced the pieces. He said Beethoven, then in his 20s, had written the Quartet with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the star-crossed lovers, in mind.
"There’s no doubt that Beethoven was preoccupied with the tomb scene, in particular," the professor said.
On piano, he played parts of the Quartet, demonstrating how certain notes and silences denote sighs, the sighs of two young, doomed lovers.
UI theater students Aurora Aadachi-Winters and Nick Narcisi portrayed them in the tomb scene..
Kinderman mentioned the "festival of love" coming up Monday, which is Valentine’s Day. He said love, especially in winter, brings us renewal and joy. I felt somewhat renewed just being at Indi Go, with its spring-like atmosphere, designed by Laura Romero of Everyday Charming Image Boutique.
Strands of white butterflies floated from the ceiling and over the performers. Small, living trees stood, their roots wrapped in burlap balls, in the upper level. Large-format photos of people sharing Kodak moments decorated the walls.
The benefitfeatured light refreshments, too,: sparkling wines from the Corkscrew Emporium and delicious savoriesby Radio Maria Chef Scott Shell and pastries by Lindsey Spoden.
The "Beethoven’s Star-Crossed Lovers: The Art of Passion" benefit will be the only one before the second annual DoCha festival at the Orpheum. Sally Bernhardsson promised the atmosphere at the museum will be intimate, as it was last year at the inaugural concerts at Radio Maria’s, Cakes on Walnut and Jim Gould Restaurant.
She said those attracted a variety of people, among them seasoned chamber-music fans and younger people who frequent downtown and were probably hearing chamber music for the first time.
Rostad said many in the latter group told him after those concerts: "Hey, man, that was a really great show. What is chamber music, anyway?"