Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

May 21, 2019

PREVIEW: Tres Classique

Kimball Towers, 140 Chestnut Street, Springfield, MA
Monthly through December 2019, third Wednesday, 5:30pm
by Michael J. Moran

The goal of Très Classique is described on its web site as “to make classical music accessible and available to the…Apremont Triangle neighborhood of downtown Springfield.” In March 2019, with primary funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Armoury Quadrangle Civic Association, the project launched a monthly series of free chamber music concerts in the lobby of historic Kimball Towers.

Repertoire focuses on short pieces, often movements from larger works, arranged for a rotating ensemble of two or three musicians. Lead artist/host, local resident, and flutist Karoun Charkoudian was accompanied by her mother, pianist Bethel Charkoudian, for the first three concerts. Karoun will be joined by cellist Norma Wanegar at the next concert, on June 19.
The atmosphere is decidedly informal, with guests invited to mingle, watch the musicians play, and enjoy light refreshments. Attendance has steadily increased each month, as 25 or so appreciative concertgoers stayed for the whole hour at the May concert. In addition, Kimball Towers residents or visitors passing through the lobby often stopped to listen for short periods, several even taking photos of the musicians on their cell phones.

Karoun Charkoudian
Performances by the Charkoudian duo of music by a wide range of composers, from Bach and Handel to Schubert and Tchaikovsky, were consistently spirited and sensitive, clearly heard in the resonant acoustic and visually enhanced by the elegant marble columns and oriental carpets of what was built in 1911 as the Hotel Kimball and now houses 132 residential and commercial condominiums. Highlights included Schumann’s lovely “Traumerei” and several themes from Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade.”

Karoun’s enthusiasm for this project is infectious as she introduces each piece, and this month’s audience was diverse enough so that she easily persuaded two volunteers to step forward and turn sheet music pages for the pianist. Word of mouth seems to be retaining loyal attendees and attracting new ones. Guests are asked to sign in as they enter, and those who list an email address receive a monthly reminder a few days ahead of the next concert in the series.

This admirable initiative to bring the joy of classical music to new listeners deserves widespread support and participation not only from the local neighborhood but from the entire Springfield community.