Deep in a majestic garden, just a few paces outside the Wichita city limits, sits a barn where year after year accomplished classical musicians perform works by the great masters. This year’s Chamber Music at The Barn series is no exception.
Works by Maurice Ravel, Antonio Vivaldi and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart will bookend the season of four shows, starting June 18. In July, the Harlem Quartet and the Matt Wilson Quartet will bring the music of Thelonious Monk and Chick Corea to this intimate setting.
Annie Chalex Boyle, a violin professor at Texas Tech University, jumped at the chance to come back to The Barn.
“It’s one of my favorite venues to perform at,” Boyle said. “The acoustics are great, and you have a nice exchange with the audience and the performer.”
Boyle, who performs internationally, enjoys the sense of camaraderie during the concerts, as well as catching up with old friends from across the country.
Boyle will perform in the first and the fourth concerts of the season. For the first concert, she’ll pair up with pianist and former Wichitan David Palmer, who runs Chamber Music Amarillo in Texas. He and Boyle will soon release a CD featuring all the piano and violin compositions by Ravel, one of which, “Tzigane,” they will play in concert at The Barn.
Palmer’s father, Michael Palmer, spent many years conducting the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. He is now director of orchestra studies at Georgia State University and runs the Bellingham Festival of Music in Washington. The younger Palmer graduated from Kapaun Mount Carmel high school.
“I am excited to come back to Wichita,” Palmer said. “I remember as a little kid going to The Barn at Christmastime. I remember it twinkling.”
During the year, The Barn doubles as a Christmas tree farm and is decorated with antique and contemporary ornaments. In the summer, the pond melts, birds chirp and concertgoers meander through paths adorned with daffodils and violets. Before each concert, a dinner is served in the garden. Even in the summer heat, the decades-old oaks and maples shade the diner and offer a welcome breeze.
Concertgoers can remain outside and watch the concert on a large screen or purchase a seat in the air-conditioned barn. This two-story venue provides an intimate setting for chamber quartets.
In the first concert, along with Ravel’s challenging piece, the program will include Robert Schumann’s Piano Quartet in E flat major and Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D major.
“This is perhaps one of his (Schumann’s) more thoroughly designed pieces,” Palmer said. “It’s a delightful piece of music.”
Palmer considers Schumann’s work a demanding piece that has a “sort of nervous energy.”
Catherine Consiglio, The Barn’s artistic director and principal violist for the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, said the audience should expect a high level of energy during the concert.
“Mozart’s Flute Quartet and the Schumann Piano Quartet has so much breadth and lyricism that you have to fall in love with them when you hear them,” said Consiglio, who also teaches viola at Wichita State University. “My goal is to make sure that our patrons understand that this music is reflective of these composers’ own experiences.”
The music portrays each composer’s traumas, illnesses and passions, Consiglio said. Before the first concert, a short, informative lecture is given. For this concert, Mozart’s piece will be analyzed.
“The music is not old and irrelevant,” Consiglio said. “It is very relevant.”