‘Music That Moves Us’: Chamber festival returns to Northwest Arkansas

‘Music That Moves Us’: Chamber festival returns to Northwest Arkansas
MONICA HOOPER
mhooper@nwadg.com

Tomoko Kashiwagi, artistic director of Chamber Music on the Mountain, hopes this year’s festival “moves” listeners.

“I thought, we have been so confined during covid. What I want to do is to actually be able to move, to feel the music,” she says. “The moving part is not just physical movement, but it’s also music that moves us emotionally. When I was thinking about this theme back in January, I had some friends who were going through some traumatic times, and music was able to heal [them] or to be an outlet.”

The Chamber Music on the Mountain Festival will begin with an open rehearsal that will be announced on their social media. Kashiwagi expects it will be on July 18. She says that she tried to make sure that there would be an event for every day of the festival. The first concerts will be performed July 20-21 with the Northwest Arkansas Jazz Society at the Fayetteville Public Library and Thaden School in Bentonville.

“I just think jazz musicians are super cool,” enthuses Kashiwagi. “When I started talking to Robert Ginsberg, who is artistic director for the Northwest Arkansas Jazz Society, he and I both had this kind of connection — our art form is traditionally founded and some people feel like there’s a barrier. I feel a little bit of a barrier toward jazz because I don’t think I can appreciate it, or I don’t know how they do something, so I might not be appreciating fully.” She says that some feel the same way about classical music.

“That’s where Robert and I came together: We just want people to hear it and see what they like or they don’t like, or if they want to know more,” she says.

For the collaboration, both the classical and jazz musicians will explore and exchange styles during the concerts.

“We’re playing a classical chamber music repertoire that’s jazz-inspired. So that’s a lot of blues kind of tunes, but it’s still classical music,” Kashiwagi says. “We’re just inspired by them. And the jazz group is doing arrangements of classical tunes. So there’ll be Mozart symphony that’s arranged for jazz.”

Also moving along with the music this year will be the Ozark Ballet Theater at the Heart Touching Music and Ballet performance on July 28 at Arkansas Arts Academy in Rogers.

“Thinking about the theme ‘music that moves us,’ of course, I thought about dancers,” Kashiwagi says, adding that both professional dancers and students will perform all-new dances created especially for this festival. Following this concert will be Friday Night on the Mountain at Ozark Mountain Smokehouse with pizza — not something normally paired with a classical music concert, but another way to make the music more accessible.

Kashiwagi says that musicians joining the family-friendly Chamber Music Festival this year are “all friends of mine from some time in my musical career,” including cellist Herine Coetzee Koschak, the founding cellist of the Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble.

“I was thinking Herine is going to add a nice mix to this group. She’s originally from South Africa. So when I met her, I was from Japan, and she was from South Africa, and we were in Bloomington, Ind.,” Kashiwagi says. “I thought she would be able to bring a really unique way of rehearsing and maybe thinking about things…

“Chamber music is about connections. There’s no conductor. So the musicians, we talk to each other, it’s not one person dictating how the music is going to go,” Kashiwagi concludes. “I don’t think we have a concert that’s going to be bigger than 100 to 150 people at the most. Because of that we usually can feel the audience much closer, and hopefully it’s the same for the audience. They can probably hear us breathe. …

“We know when the listeners are really engaged. And we can really go for a silence. And we can hold our breath together, which is really special. Even though I love playing in the orchestra, I love playing in SoNA concerts, but in a concert hall of 2,000 people, that’s really hard to do to see really what individual musicians are doing. And I think that’s really special about chamber music. It’s about everybody in the room.”

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FYI

Chamber Music on the Mountain

July 23 — Chamber Music at Millar Lodge, 7 p.m., Mount Sequoyah Center Millar Lodge.

July 24 — Spotlight Concert, 1 p.m., Millar Lodge at Mount Sequoyah. No tickets required.

July 28 — Heart Touching Music & Ballet, 6:30 p.m., Arkansas Arts Academy, 506 W. Poplar St., Rogers.

July 29 — Friday Night on the Mountain, 7 p.m., Ozark Mountain Smokehouse, 1725 S. Smokehouse Trail, Fayetteville.

July 30 — Chamber Music, 7 p.m., Millar Lodge at Mount Sequoyah.

Tickets are $20 for adults and include one free child admission. Additional child tickets are $10. Some events do not require tickets. For more information, visit chambermusiconthemountain.org.

Categories: Music