I remember Harry Jacobs very well. Before his death in 2011, he was a major force in the musical life of the Central Savannah River Area, first as the artistic director of the what is now the Symphony Orchestra Augusta, which he helped establish in 1954, and then as the guiding light behind the Harry Jacobs Chamber Music Society, which is now poised to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
The upcoming 2014-2015 features six classical music ensembles of international caliber, beginning with the Montclaire String Quartet on Sept. 5 at 7:30 p.m. The quartet-in-residence for the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Montclaire String Quartet performed at the very first concert of the Harry Jacobs Chamber Music Society in September 1990; their return visit is happily anticipated.
The second concert of the new season features one of my favorite chamber groups, Quartetto Gelato, which was part of the USCA Cultural Series some years ago. Named National Public Radio’s Debut Artist of the Year shortly after they were founded nearly two decades ago, the group specializes in an exotic blend of music, both vocal and instrumental. A typical Quartetto Gelato performance might range from Italian arias to Argentinian tangos. Their recital is Oct. 5 at 3 p.m.
The work of minority composers is the focus of the Harlem Quartet, which made its public debut at Carnegie Hall in 2006. Headliners at jazz festivals around the world, the quartet won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition for their recording “Mozart Goes Dancing,” a collaboration with jazz legends Chick Corea and Gary Burton. They take the stage on Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m.
The fourth concert of the series features pianist Stanislav Khristenko, who has toured the world since his debut at the age of eleven in his native Ukraine.
Since then he has also garnered many of the top prizes at international piano competitions, including the 2013 Cleveland International Piano Competition and, in the same year, the Maria Canals International Music Competition in Barcelona. Khristenko’s performance is scheduled for Jan. 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Named after Eugen Suchon, one of the most significant composers of their native Slovakia, the members of the Suchon Quintet are touring the United States for the first time in 2015 with collaborative pianist Michiko Otaki, a faculty member at Clayton State University.
This talented group is made up of the leading wind players of the Slovak Sinfonietta resident in the city of Zilina. They will perform on Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m.
The final concert of the season showcases the artistry of the New York-based Horszowski Piano Trio. The ensemble – violinist Jesse Mills, cellist Raman Ramakrishnan and pianist Rieko Aizawa – is named for pianist and longtime faculty member at the Curtis Institute, Mieczyslaw Horszowski. Born in 1891, Horszowski never achieved the status of Horowitz or Rubenstein as one of the great keyboard artists of the 20th century; but he did have many admirers.
In fact, the trio bearing his name specializes in playing the music of composers that Horszowski worked with personally: Ravel, Saint-Saens, Faure, Martinu, Villa-Lobos, and Granados.
He was a dedicated teacher, giving, it is said, his last lesson shortly before his death at the age of 100 in 1993. This concert is scheduled for April 24 at 7:30 p.m.
All concerts in the 2014-2015 series are held in the Maxwell Performing Arts Center on the Summerville campus of Georgia Regents University in Augusta.
For information about season subscriptions and the availability of tickets for individual concerts, call 706-951-6877 or visit the Harry Jacobs Chamber Music Society at www.hjcms.org.
A recipient of the 2013 Media Award from the Greater Augusta Arts Council, Dr. Tom Mack holds the G.L. Toole Chair at USC Aiken.