After change in venue, chamber music plays on
Central Presbyterian Church is no more, but a chamber music series that originated there carries on.
Sunday at Central was initiated at the historic South Third Street church in 1994 by Clintonville resident David Niwa, in concert, so to speak, with Margerie Brundage and Kan Matsuda. The purpose was "just to present high-quality, professional chamber music concerts for the general public at reasonable prices and somehow manage to survive," Niwa said last week.
"We survived there for 16 years, but then the church closed," he said.
With its congregation down to only about 40 active members, the 151-year-old Central Presbyterian closed after a final service held Nov. 20 of last year.
Although only part of the name remains accurate, the chamber music series didn't die out with the closing of the church but instead moved to the Columbus Museum of Art, 480 E. Broad St.
The next performance is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28.
It will feature Oliver Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, which was written while the composer was interned in a German prison camp and was first performed for his 5,000 fellow inmates Jan. 15, 1941. The work "is one of the finest statements of the human condition ever created, and a defining moment in the history of mankind. As a spiritual response to wartime, it has few equals," according to the program notes written by Sebastian Knowles.
The performers will be Niwa on violin, his wife Mariko Kenada on piano, Robert "Woody" Jones on clarinet and Pegsoon Whang on cello. All are accomplished and internationally recognized musicians, according to the program notes.
"In a nutshell, what is different about this is that we are also going to be projecting images of great art that are reflecting what Messiaen wanted to reflect," Niwa said. "It's going to be part of the performance."
These will include the works of works of Wassily Kandinsky, Sonia Delaunay and others. In addition, Melissa Heston will provide interpretative gestures and will escort musicians off the stage during solo and duo portions of the work.
Admission to the concert is free, although donations are encouraged, Niwa said.
"We very much, like NPR, depend heavily on what we get at the door," he said.
The 2012-13 recital series is funded in part by grants from the Greater Columbus Arts Council and the Ohio Arts Council, as well as the Johnstone Fund for New Music at the Columbus Foundation.
The transition from the original venue to the museum has been smooth as well as beneficial, said Niwa, who is artistic director for Sunday at Central and assistant concert master for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.
"We needed a new venue," he said. "The art museum has a wonderful piano and they have what is now the Cardinal Health Auditorium, and it's actually perfect for us. It's a very intimate setting. What a perfect place for us to be playing music of the French Impressionist period ... and they had a Monet/Matisse exhibit going on.
"It went crazy when we moved to the museum."