Which brings me to the end of this season for these two very different series of chamber music. All things being about equal––they have similar price points, ridiculously cheap if you are a student, and moderately premium for an adult. They are from the same family. One is touring groups exclusively, and therefore groups who play what they play brilliantly and with a practiced hand. They know the music as well and play with as much swagger and sense of big performance as any big-name pop star, they wear the music like a skin. But they also have an eye to keeping alive a tradition and staying at least partially in a classical framework. You don't go to a Springsteen concert and not want to hear “Born To Run.” Well, there is a set of works for each kind of group in the chamber canon, and the great touring groups serve these works up like a fine steak house does beef and ribs. This is culture at its best, although, in some ways, the Salt Lake Chamber Music Society’s series is not as daring as the Nova Series.
The Nova Series is local and is organized in each show by an internal logic and a daring masterful hand. Jason Hardink really knows classical music––the newest stuff and the obscure greats. I don't know if you listened to John Peele on the BBC like I did in my twenties and thirties, but his show was always impeccable and surprising in its selections of music and its diversity. Under Mr. Hardink, the same applies for the Nova Chamber Series. On any given show you will hear at least two or three things you have never heard before. Several times this season there were performances of things that were either written for Nova or were world first or second performances. Most shows included daring and wild pieces which, in a recorded context might sound noisy or non-musical, but which in a live setting are transgressive, exciting and amazing.
Both series of concerts made my life better and bigger and deeper. One gave me culture, and one gave me art. The takeaway for me this season has been twofold: on one hand, modern, very modern, wet-ink chamber music is really good and really exciting, maybe better than the famous pieces we think of from the 18th and 19th Century. Secondly, an entree to the arts cognoscenti and the society they keep is available here, and the ticket to it comes with some great music to sweeten the deal.
It satisfies deeply to get to know people you are sharing something with. It’s like you have joined a club that you didn't even know existed. If you buy season tickets for the Nova Concert Series, there is a party after each concert with catered food and the musicians are there and ready to chat, and so is the audience. This is perhaps the easiest intro into culture in Salt Lake. So, if you want to be part of the world of adults and art, here is a door.
Both the Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake and the Nova Chamber Music Series will begin their seasons in the fall. Click on their names to be directed to their websites for more info.