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Texas’ Hall Ensemble Expands Its Audience

SANTA FE, N.M. — Although the Hall Ensemble formed in 2008, it presented its first concert series as a nonprofit organization last season in its hometown of Fort Worth, Texas. Reaching back to the root of chamber music, which was played in intimate settings rather than in large venues, the Hall Ensemble usually concertizes in private homes.

“The audience is all around us, almost bumping elbows with us and looking at our music,” said cellist Karen Hall. “What’s wonderful about it is that when they’re that close, we know when they’re enjoying themselves.”

The Hall Ensemble will leave the living room and travel to Santa Fe to play for an audience at United Church of Santa Fe tonight as part of the Santa Fe Concert Association’s 75th season. The association’s artistic director, pianist Joseph Illick, will join the ensemble’s four players to make it a quintet.

If you go
WHAT: Santa Fe Concert Association presents the Hall Ensemble with pianist Joseph Illick
WHEN: 7:30 tonight
WHERE: United Church of Santa Fe, 1804 Arroyo Chamiso Road
COST: $30
CONTACT: 505-988-1234

“When we program music, we try to play something interesting, something fun and something inspirational,” Hall said. “We’ve got works to fit that bill scheduled for our Santa Fe performance.”

Hall considers Bernard Garfield’s piece “Quartet for Bassoon and Strings,” which features Hall’s husband bassoonist Kevin Hall, the most interesting piece on the ensemble’s program. Written in 1950 when Garfield was earning his advanced degree in composition at Columbia University, it is among a relatively small group of pieces composed for bassoon and strings.

“The bassoon sounds great with strings,” Hall said. “We’ve been to every music website on the Internet looking for music for bassoon and string trio. Sometimes we have to use arrangements of works written for other instruments.”

Carl Maria von Weber’s “Andante and Hungarian Rondo, Op. 35” was written for bassoon and orchestra in 1813 and arranged for bassoon and a string trio by a professional bassoonist.

“I call this our fun piece on the program,” Hall said. “It’s a sparkling, romantic piece with lots of notes and a full sound.”

The concert’s inspirational work is “Piano Quartet in E Major, Op. 47” by Robert Schumann. Violinist Pei-Ju Wu and violist Daniel Sigale will join Hall and Illick for a rendition of this lush and romantic piece.

“The masterful writing of the piano quartet is some of Schumann’s best,” Hall said. “Although it was written in 1842 for Count Matvei, who was an obviously accomplished amateur cellist, it was premiered in 1844 by professional musicians.”

During the concert, Hall and her fellow instrumentalists will share some of their favorite stories about the composers whose works are on the program and talk about the technical and artistic demands placed on their instruments in each of the pieces.

With the exception of Wu, Hall Ensemble members also are members of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. They offer special presentations for children, including the performance of chamber music to accompany the reading of fairy tales.