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BCMS Hamel Summer Series at the Arsenal Center for the Arts


Boston-area concert-goers may not be aware of another local venue on the concert scene: the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown is yet another location for organizations having to vacate temporarily Pickman Hall at Longy School while it undergoes renovations. Boston Chamber Music Society is holding its 2010 Hamel Summer Series there, in the Charles Mosesian Theater, at 8 pm on each of four Saturdays in August. The series focuses on the music of Chopin and Schumann to commemorate the bicentennial of their births.

“The temporary loss of Pickman Hall has allowed us an opportunity to explore a new performance venue that is increasingly popular with theater, jazz, and chamber music audiences,” explained Artistic Director and violist Marcus Thompson.

The Arsenal theater has amenities that some more well known concert sites might envy: it is air-conditioned and boasts the intimacy and unobstructed views of raked seating, with very close free parking. (It is also on the route of the #70 bus from Central Square in Cambridge.) Located near the Arsenal Mall, the theater is surrounded by a number of tasty neighborhood restaurants — some with outdoor seating for pre-concert dining.

BCMS’s Hamel Summer Series has always offered the chance to hear a greater number of celebrated guests along with its members and regulars. In the August 8 concert, violinist Jennifer Koh, winner of the 1994 Tchaikovsky Competition and recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant, will appear with frequent guest cellist Wilhelmina Smith. Pianist Benjamin Hochman will perform Franz Liszt’s Transcendental Etude No. 11 in D-flat major. (He will return in December for BCMS’s Beethoven Op. 95, 96, 97 concerts.)

Performances by BCMS pianist Mihae Lee of Chopin’s Ballade in G minor and Ballade in A-flat major will open the second and third concerts. In the first of these, on August 14, she will be joined by Sheryl Staples and Rebecca Young, each leading members of the New York Philharmonic, and by cellist Julie Albers, in the Schumann Piano Quartet in E-flat major. On August 21, Mihae Lee will be joined by violinist Erin Keefe and BCMS co-founder and cellist Ronald Thomas in a performance of the Schumann Trio in G minor.

The final concert of the 2010 Hamel Summer Series on August 28 opens with the Chopin Introduction and Polonaise Brillante, Op. 3, performed by Ronald Thomas and guest pianist Rieko Aizawa; the Beethoven Violin and Piano Sonata in A Major by Steven Copes, Concertmaster of the famed St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Schumann Piano Trio in F major, Op. 80.

Thomas will perform the Chopin Sonata for Cello and Piano that opens the BCMS November concerts at Rockport Music’s new Shalin Liu Performance Center on Saturday, November 11 and again in Cambridge at Sanders Theater on Sunday, November 12.

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