The Virginia Arts Festival is “bidding a fond farewell” to their longtime curator of chamber music, André-Michel Schub. The piano virtuoso will be retiring as the VAF’s Chamber Music Series Director this year. In his final season as Director, Schub has chosen to play Mozart with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in a “Mozart Celebration” on Friday, May11 at the Sandler Center for Performing Arts in Virginia Beach.
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I sat down with Rob Cross, Executive Director of the Virginia Arts Festival, to talk about André-Michel Schub and his contribution to the VAF. The admiration, respect and warmth that Cross has for his friend and colleague were immediately apparent.
Cross met Schub in 1982, just after Schub won the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, held once every four years. Cross is a percussionist with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra as well as Executive Director of the VAF. Cross met Schub at a summer music festival. They bonded over music and tennis.
When Rob Cross helped start the Virginia Arts Festival in 1997, he knew he wanted chamber music to be a part of the VAF. By that time, his old friend, André, was an internationally known pianist, and was pianist for the New York Chamber Music Society. Cross asked him to become the director of chamber music for the Festival. Schub has served in that capacity for 22 years. Cross says, “Chamber music is part of André’s DNA.”
The tradition of chamber music goes back to the time of kings, queens, and castles. Chamber music is a form of classical music that is composed for a small group of players, so that they can sit together in a palace chamber, to entertain royalty and the wealthy. Many of the great early composers, like Mozart, Haydn, and Bach were commissioned by the wealthy to compose for a small group of musicians. Chamber music has a more intimate quality and is often called “the music of friends.”
André-Michel Schub “loves” chamber music. His training at Curtis Institute of Music was all about collaboration. He also believes in mentoring young musicians. Cross calls him a “fantastic teacher.” Although he plays with full orchestras around the world, his passion has been “the music of friends.”
Schub is based in New York City and has been an artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center for many years. Cross says this puts him the best place to find the best talent in the world of chamber music for the VAF. Cross gave Schub “free reign” to choose the musicians and curate the programs for the chamber music concerts, including the popular Coffee Concerts.
The Coffee Concerts take place in intimate venues around Hampton Roads and as far as Williamsburg. Schub often performs. The last of the Coffee Concerts for this year is Tuesday, May 15 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Portsmouth. The Dover String Quartet will be performing. http://secure.vafest.org/single/eventDetail.aspx?p=399
For his grand finale as Chamber Music Series Director, André-Michel Schub has chosen three of the great Mozart piano concerti to play with the full Virginia Symphony Orchestra on the stage of the Sandler Center. The VSO will be conducted by Arthur Fagen, who will also play in the “Piano Concerto No. 7 in F major for 3 Pianos”.
Rob Cross wants this year “to be all about André”. He says that Schub is too humble for a big fanfare farewell. The two old friends are working together to select another brilliant musician as the new Chamber Music Series Director. If all goes as planned, the VAF will announce that person next fall.
For more information and to purchase tickets for the “Mozart Celebration” on May 11, go to vafest.org