W&L consort kicks off Gager Community Concert Series with Beethoven and Brahms

Posted on September 19, 2016 by Jennifer McManamay

Sweet Briar College’s Janet Lowrey Gager Community Concert Series will get underway in the new academic year with a special performance by guests from Washington and Lee University.

“An Afternoon of Beethoven & Brahms with ARDO CONSORT” will be presented at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, in Memorial Chapel. The concert is free and open to the public.

Photo by Patrick Hinely Photo by Patrick Hinely

The consort is composed of music faculty members from W&L with Leslie Nicholas playing clarinet, Julia Goudimova on violoncello, and Byron W. Petty and Shuko Watanabe on piano. The first half of the program features Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Andante favori” for Piano Solo and Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 11 for Piano, Clarinet and Violoncello.

The second half will open with Johannes Brahms’ “Andante” from Piano Sonata No. 3 in F Minor, Op. 5 and conclude with his Trio for Piano, Clarinet and Violoncello in A Minor, Op. 114.

Petty and Watanabe, who are married, form the core of the consort. They founded it in 1980, soon after graduating from the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University.

“Shuko and I are ARDO DUO,” says Petty, noting that “ardo” is an Italian word for “I burn.”

“It is frequently associated with passion and desire in the texts of madrigals by the early Baroque Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi. This heightened passion is what we wanted to express in our performances,” he explains.

“The consort aspect is a flexible roster of musicians who we feel share this motivation, usually performers we have known for many years.”

For classically trained Sweet Briar pianist Anna Billias, who is organizing the series this year, the concert program is one reason to look forward to the start of the 2016-2017 Gager lineup. Beethoven and Brahms in the hands of the ARDO CONSORT is all the more reason to plan a Sunday afternoon of classical music, she says.

“We are very fortunate to have musicians of this caliber joining us for this concert,” Billias said.

The Gager Community Concert series is made possible by the generous support of Forrest Gager, in memory of his wife Janet, who served as Sweet Briar’s director of public relations. The next performance will be held Nov. 6.

For more information, email Billias at abillias@sbc.edu.