BLUE HILL — The Hermitage Piano Trio, whose members’ superb playing reflects Russia’s great music tradition, will open the Blue Hill Concert Association’s 2020 season at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 19, at the First Congregational Church of Blue Hill.
To broaden its reach, the association applied for and won a $3,000 grant from the Auburn-based Onion Foundation to improve its content, website and other publicity materials.
Over the years, the concert series has received ongoing support for its cultural and educational programming from Tradewinds Marketplace, the Lawrence Family, the Maurice Amado Foundation and support from Stanley Subaru for advertising.
Kicking off the association’s 42nd winter season, the Hermitage Trio includes cellist Sergey Antonov, whose mentor, the great Mstislav Rostropovic, called him “brilliant,” pianist Ilya Kazantsev, described as “virtually flawless,” and violinist Misha Keylin, whose Naxos CD series of the seven Henri Vieuxtemps violin concertos and showpieces has won much praise.
The trio, distinguished by its exuberant musicality, interpretative range and sumptuous sound, will open with Clara Schumann’s piano trio Op. 17 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s passage, giving women the right to vote. Works by Turina, Rachmaninoff, Schubert and Gaspar Cassado will follow.
On Feb. 9, the Akropolis Reed Quintet will fill the church with its blend of woodwind tones and new, exciting sounds. Founded in 2009 at the University of Michigan, the fivesome is the first ever ensemble of its kind to win seven national prizes, including the 2014 Fischoff Gold Medal.
Based in New York, the Aizuri Quartet will grace the church on Feb. 23. The quartet takes its name from “aizuri-e,” the term for a style of blue Japanese woodblock printing noted for its vibrance and incredible detail. Its members include violinists Emma Frucht and Miho Saegusa, violist Ayane Kozasa and cellist Karen Ouzounian.
The quartet’s debut album “Blue Printing” was nominated for a 2019 Grammy and features works written for them by five American composers.
Closing out the season will be Canada’s Rolston String Quartet on Sunday, March 22. The group recently completed a two-year-term as the Yale School of Music’s fellowship quartet-in-residence. Its members are: violist Hezekiah Leung, cellist Jonathan Lo and violinists Luri Lee and Emily Kruspe. They will play works by Felix Mendelssohn, Erwin Schuloff, and Franz Schubert.
For over 40 winters, the association has provided exceptional chamber music for the Blue Hill peninsula and at the same time maintained a continuing commitment to music education. This season each ensemble has agreed to provide an outreach session for students after each concert.
All concerts are held at 3 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets cost $30 per person while admission is free for students under 21. For more info, call 367-2918 and visit bluehillconcertassociation.org.