Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck

Heather Nash

The Ann Arbor-based Akropolis Reed Quintet will finish off the 31st season of the Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck on Thursday and Friday, with concerts at 7:30 pm in the Woman's Club of Saugatuck. Now in its 10th year, the unusual quintet of clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, and oboe has won seven national chamber music prizes since 2011, including the 2014 Fischoff Gold Medal and the 2015 Fischoff Educator Award.

Saxophonist Matt Landry talks to Cara Lieurance about the group's passion for new music and making new arrangements of popular works. He also describes Together We Sound,  the Akropolis Reed Quintet's Michigan-based contemporary music festival with a variety of performances and shared activities.


The Vega Quartet will perform Haydn's first published string quartet, Op 1 No. 1 to begin their concerts on Thursday, Aug 1 and Friday, Aug 2 at 7:30 pm at the Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck. It's an optimistic-sounding work, says violinist Jessica Shuang Wu.

Wu tells Cara Lieurance about how  three of the quartet's members grew up together in Shanghai, before pursuing music in the United States. Today, the Vega Quartet is in its 12th year of residency at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, where they will mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth by performing a series of his complete quartets. In Saugatuck, they'll perform his late Quartet No. 13, Op 130, and include the original final movement, Grosse Fuge. The program will be rounded out by a new piece, 13 fiddle tunes for string quartet (I ain't broke but I am badly bent), by David Garner.


Growing up in a very musical family helped steer three of the four Walvoord siblings into professional music careers. Amanda Dykhouse is the concertmaster of the Holland Symphony, Jennifer Walvoord is the concertmaster of the West Michigan Symphony, and Martha Walvoord is the associate professor of violin at the University of Texas at Arlington.

For the first time, the three sisters will perform at the Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck in programs at 7:30 pm on Thursday and Friday, July 25 and 26. Joining them are two musical spouses: pianist Drew Le, who co-directs the festival with Jenny Walvoord, and bassist Jack Unzicker, who is married to Martha Walvoord. Martha Walvoord tells Cara Lieurance about her family's love of music, and about how they came up with pieces for multiple violins to play in their sister celebration.


Joy Rhine Photography

The Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck continues this week with festival co-directors Jennifer Walvoord and Drew Le joining Grand Rapids Symphony musicians Leslie Van Becker and Alicia Eppinga in a program of Piazzolla, Mozart, and Schoenfield. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Le introduces his fellow musicians and shares his thoughts on Piazzolla's "Spring," from Four Seasons in Buenos Aires, Mozart's Piano Quartet No. 1, K. 478, and Paul Schoenfield's Café Music. He also shares the news that he and his family are moving to Ohio, where he will be an assistant professor of piano at Kent State University. They will return each summer to direct the Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck.


Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck

Summer chamber music concerts have been a tradition in the city of Saugatuck for over 30 years. On Thursday and Friday, July 11 and 12 at 7:30 pm, the Woman's Club of Saugatuck will open its doors for the first program of the season, "A Mighty Handful." Clarinetist Bradley Wong, a Western Michigan University professor and School of Music director, tells Cara Lieurance about the quartets and quintets on the program. He'll be performing alongside long-time festival players Barbara Corbató, Sarah Southard, Gabe Southard, and Paul Austin, as well as newer players Yu-Lien Thé and Haijin Choi.

Wong, who joined the WMU School of music faculty in 1983, plans to retire at the end of the next school year. He says he looks forward to more performing and, equally, attending the wide variety of music concerts available to residents in West Michigan.


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