The Atlantic Chamber Players at River Tree Arts

Under the auspices of Chamber ME Music, violinist Dean Stein introduced his fellow guest artists, The Atlantic Chamber Players, right after Executive Stephen Joffe of River Tree Arts welcomed the sunny winter morning audience, inviting them to partake of more and more of RTA’s new programs. He mentioned that the DaPonte String Quartet will be performing a series at RTA this coming summer.

The hour-long program was made up of two string quartets, one classical and one contemporary, and the two were interchanged from the printed program listing so that the musical periods would be played consecutively. Heavenly strains of the String Quartet, Opus 20, No. 4 in f minor by F. J. Haydn (1732-1809) settled the audience into an immediate sense of appreciation for the quality of which they would be partaking this morning. The first movement, Allegro moderato, proceeded with a precise and delicate blend of warm and mellow tones, at just the right volume for this chamber-sized venue. This was followed by a Menuetto in lilting three quarter time, and the Adagio that seemed to be a sweet lullaby with notably eloquent vibrato.

The Finale had been heralded as a fugue by Stein in his pre-concert remarks. It made its substantial statement, indeed repeated in the style of a fugue to the delight and satisfaction of the audience. Agape is the word for spiritual love. I wonder if there is a similar word for the love that music engenders. If not, one must certainly be coined to explain such audience-performance communication.

No wonder the ensemble was enchanting! Without program notes, it was a delightful surprise. Many of us have not memorized the credentials of Maine musicians, but Google helped me find out about the four outstanding participants. Violinists Dean Stein and Robert Lehmann, Violist Kimberly Lehmann, and Cellist Christina Chute comprised today’s ensemble of The Atlantic Chamber Players. Brief spoken introductions had been important because the instrumentation and biographies had not been noted on the program. Those in attendance with limited program notes would also like to know the backgrounds of the virtuoso players.

According to my research, Dean Stein, a co-founder with Kathleen McNerney and director of VentiCordi, performs as violinist with the Atlantic Piano Trio, is concertmaster of the Maine Music Society, and enjoys a violin/piano partnership with Pamela Mia Paul. Both teacher and clinician, Mr. Stein is on the faculty of Bates College. He has taught at New England Conservatory’s Preparatory Division, Bowdoin College, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, University of Maryland at College Park and the New England Suzuki Institute.

The Lehmanns are members of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Kimberly Lehmann’s M.M. is from the Eastman School of Music and she has performed with many ensembles, including Meliora String Quartet, Hancock Street String Quartet, PORTopera, Portland Chamber Orchestra, and many others.

Robert Lehmann’s University of Southern Maine School of Music faculty bio identifies him as Associate Professor of Music; Director of String Studies and Orchestral Activities. In addition to his duties conducting the Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra and the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra, he is on the Artist Faculty in Violin, Viola and Chamber Music. He is in his tenth season as Music Director of the North Shore Philharmonic. Dr. Lehmann is also Music Director of the highly acclaimed Portland Chamber Orchestra and first violinist of the Meliora Quartet. In 2008 he was invited to become the conductor of the White Mountain Bach Festival in New Hampshire.

The Portland Conservatory bio of Christina Chute includes this information: “Current Faculty of Bates College, Bowdoin College, and Portland Conservatory. Former Faculty of the San Francisco Community Music Center and the Sequoia Chamber Music Festival; Cellist with the Maine Music Society, Atlantic Piano Trio, Santa Rosa Symphony, Rohnert Park Chamber Orchestra, Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, and others. Violin/Viola, Canton Symphony Orchestra, Club Foot Orchestra, and others. Studio recording artist and translator of ‘I Begin the Cello.’ ”

Arriving early, I had been able to hear the rehearsal of a few Spanish strains of the String Quartet No. 1 in d minor, by the young composer, J. C. Arriaga (1806-1826), before the eleven o’clock hour. The Chamber ME Music concerts on Saturday mornings have been well worth making the effort to keep open the “eleventh hour” on Saturday mornings, following the third Friday of the month when the concert is first performed in Freeport, at the Community Center, during the noon hour.

Mary Elizabeth Nordstrom