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Brahms leads off a fabulous week of free classical music in Nashville

brahmsNashville’s classical music scene shifts into high gear this week, with great concerts taking place just about every day. All of these concerts, by the way, are free.

Wednesday, Sept. 25. The most compelling reason to attend violist Kathryn Plummer and pianist Amy Dorfman’s concert is the chance to hear Brahms’ magnificent valedictory chamber piece, the Sonata for Viola and Piano in F minor, Op. 120, No. 1. Completed in 1894, this amazing 25-minute work has everything – romantic passion, drama and a degree of lyrical sweetness that is unrivaled in the chamber repertoire. This wonderful recording from violist Pinchas Zukerman and Daniel Barenboim should get you in the mood. Plummer and Dorfman will also play Bach’s Sonata No. 3 in G minor and Bloch’s Suite for Viola and Piano. Their concert starts at 8 p.m. at Turner Recital Hall, 2400 Blakemore Ave.

chen2Thursday, Sept. 26. Pianist Sean Chen was a medalist at the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas. He impressed the judges at that august contest with big repertoire, playing such works as Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” Sonata and the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3. His program in Nashville will feature Scriabin’s Valse in A-flat major, Op. 38, Chopin’s Four Impromptus, Chen’s own arrangement of Ravel’s La Valse and Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 8. Here’s Chen performing the first movement of the Prokofiev. His concert, part of Belmont University’s Woods Piano Concert Series, begins at 7:30 p.m. at McAfee Concert Hall, 2100 Belmont Blvd.

robinFriday, Sept. 27. Some of the Blair School of Music’s top faculty will join the Vanderbilt University Orchestra under the direction of Robin Fountain for a performance of Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments, Percussion and Strings. The orchestra will also perform Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 in D major, K. 385 “Haffner.” Vanderbilt Wind Symphony under guest conductor Richard Floyd, meanwhile, will play Louis Serrano Alarcón’s Concertango (with saxophonist Brian Utley), Frank Ticheli’s Angels in the Architecture and Leonard Bernstein’s Slava! The performance starts at 8 p.m. at Ingram Hall, 2400 Blakemore Ave.

Saturday, Sept. 28. The Nashville Symphony offers its “Free Day of Music,” and this is a truly huge event. Music and related activities will be taking place literally all day, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., in and around the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, 1 Symphony Place. The Nashville Symphony, Austin Peay State University Chamber Singers, Nashville Symphony Chorus and Music City Baroque are all scheduled to perform. There will also be an organ recital, an orchestra petting zoo, performances by local bands, and much more. For the full schedule, click here.

tuckerSaturday, Sept. 28. Vanderbilt Symphony Choir, Blair Chamber Choir and Vortex percussion ensemble join forces for the Blair School of Music’s first major choral event of the season. Conductor Tucker Biddlecombe leads the Chamber Choir in Bach’s Cantata, “Der Herr denket an uns,” BWV 196. The Symphonic Choir will perform Charles Villiers Stanford’s Three Motets, Op. 38, and the Chamber Choir and Vortex will play Tarik O’Regan’s rock-inspired Triptych. The concert begins at 8 p.m. at Turner Hall, 2400 Blakemore Ave.

Monday, Sept. 30. Belmont Camerata presents Through the Eyes of Others – Creativity and Struggle. The program examines the works of three composers whose creativity was limited by totalitarian governments and whose artistic expression was shaped by political circumstances. Czech Erwin Schulhoff, a communist of Jewish heritage, died in a concentration camp. Events in Soviet Russia traumatized Dmitri Shostakovich. Bright Sheng came of age during China’s Cultural Revolution. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Belmont Mansion, 1700 Acklen Ave.

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About John Pitcher

John Pitcher is the chief classical music, jazz and dance critic as well as co-founder of ArtsNash. He has been a classical music critic for the Washington Post, the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, National Public Radio’s Performance Today (NPR), ArtNowNashville.com and the Nashville Scene. His writings about music and the arts have also appeared in Symphony Magazine, American Record Guide and Stagebill Magazine, among other publications. Pitcher earned his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied arts writing with Judith Crist and Phyllis Garland. His work has received the New York State Associated Press award for outstanding classical music criticism.