Charleston group brings chamber music back to Hilton Head Island

jpaprocki@islandpacket.comJanuary 20, 2012 

  • Chamber Music Charleston performs at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23 at All Saints Episcopal Church on Hilton Head Island. Tickets are $20.

    To reserve tickets, email sandra@chambermusiccharleston.org.

    Details: www.chambermusiccharleston.org

Chamber music lives on in Beaufort County.

Less than a year after Chamber Music Hilton Head disbanded, another group is bringing classical music on a small scale to the island.

Chamber Music Charleston held its first performance on the island in October. Their second performance is Jan. 23 at All Saints Episcopal Church. The group plans another concert in March. If all goes well, they plan on performing regularly on the island, said founder and bassoonist Sandra Nikolajevs.

Chamber music is classical music performed with an ensemble rather than a full orchestra. A typical chamber ensemble might include just four or five players, a mixture of strings, woodwinds and piano.

Chamber Music Charleston has a rotation of 13 professional musicians who break into smaller groups to perform. The smaller group concerts can be held in venues as small as a private home, for example. Many hosts set up miniature concert halls in their living rooms.

"A lot of people seem to gravitate to chamber music," Nikolajevs said. "It's a very intimate experience."

Nikolajevs started Chamber Music Charleston in 2005. She had seen the popularity of classical music during the 17-day Spoleto Festival, and imagined interest could spread year-round.

The first people she consulted were Bob and Jean Shamo, who had been running a successful chamber music group on Hilton Head. Bob Shamo mentored her through the process of establishing nonprofit status and offered guidance in building an audience.

The Charleston group now holds 70 concerts a year in venues from living rooms to concert halls.

"We didn't expect it to be as successful as it was," she said. "We just kept playing and playing."

The Hilton Head group held its last concert last spring when, after 13 years, the Shamos deciding to retire from organizing the group. Encouraged by the retiring couple, the Charleston group started discussing making appearances locally. Many of its musicians are familiar with the area. Nikolajevs' husband, for example, is a member of the group and a cellist in the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra.

They plan on bringing a variety of performances to the island. The first show was string quartet with guitar. The January performance will be two flutes, a bassoon and harpsichord.

They've already found the success of their predecessors. Nikolajevs expects to sell more than 100 tickets for the next show.

"So many people are expecting to hear chamber music on Hilton Head," she said. "It's our obligation to keep a high quality of performance."

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