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A celebration of chamber music

The Rogue Valley has a tradition of hosting great musicians. In the spirit of that tradition, the Chamber Music Concerts has just celebrated its 25th anniversary.

The organization will continue its mission of presenting world-class musicians when it starts its next season with a concert at 8 p.m. Monday, June 15, at Ashland High School's Mountain Avenue Theatre, 201 S. Mountain Ave., Ashland.

Featured in the concert will be cellist Michal Palzewicz, violinist Mateusz Wolski and pianist Alexander Tutunov. The program will include selections by Schubert, Brahms and Shostakovich.

Palzewicz moved to Ashland from the East Coast in 2008. His wife, singer Cecily, has family here. Born in Poland, Palzewicz started his music education in the public music program in Warsaw. When he was eight, with his sister and another eight-year-old "colleague," Wolski, he played Haydn's Piano Trio, which gave him his first taste of playing chamber music.

"I enjoyed the social aspect of it from the beginning," Palzewicz said in a press release, "and also I believed that in order to have a good chamber group, the members have to be really good friends and really good players. I was always adamant on that."

At the age of 17, he formed the Elsner String Quartet with three friends and within six months of its establishment the group won first prize at the All Polish Chamber Music Competition. The Elsner Quartet soon developed a close relationship with the Amadeus String Quartet, who helped launch the Elsner's successful career.

The Elsner Quartet performed throughout Europe including the Snape Proms Festival in England, at Wigmore Hall in London; National Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw; and at the Usedomer Music Festival in Germany.

Once the quartet-in-residence at the Britten-Pears School in Suffolk, England, the Elsner Quartet was invited to the Manhattan School of Music for a full scholarship in the 1990s. The quartet performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall and Merkin Concert Hall in New York while continuing to perform in Europe, representing the school.

Palzewicz has been successful as a soloist and as a chamber musician in the U.S. and in Europe.

"But I most enjoy playing chamber music "¦ with good friends. I am very excited about playing with Alex and my oldest friend and colleague, Mateusz."

The cello that Palzewicz will be playing in this concert was made by his father, who will come from Poland to attend the concert.

Wolski also was a member of the Elsner String Quartet. He has enjoyed a distinguished career in the U.S. and abroad. While appearing at venues such as Wigmore Hall in London, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Wail Hall, Merkin Concert Hall in New York as an enthusiastic chamber musician, he has also been a featured soloist with the Juneau Symphony, the Annapolis Symphony, and the Coeur D'Alene Symphony.

Wolski also freelanced in leadership positions and became the concertmaster of the Annapolis Symphony in 2005, and the Spokane Symphony in 2007, the position he continues to enjoy to this day. Wolski is looking forward to coming to the Rogue Valley to collaborate with Palzewicz and Tutunov.

Tutunov serves as director of keyboard studies at Southern Oregon University. He also is the artist in residence at the University of Alaska Southeast, at the Beijing Central Conservatory, and artistic director of the Britt-SOU International Piano Institute. He won the first prize at the Belarussian National Piano Competition, and was a winner of the Russian National Piano Competition.

Tutunov has performed widely in the former Soviet Union, Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, China, Mexico, and the United States as a recitalist, soloist with orchestra, and on radio and television.

Tutunov is regularly featured as soloist with the Rogue Valley Symphony. His scheduled performances include soloist for Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Newport Symphony Orchestra, soloist for Mendelssohn Concerto for Piano, Violin and Chamber orchestra at Chintimini Music Festival.

He has performed with Palzewicz at the SOU Music Recital Hall in the past and said in a press release, "I love this guy. He's an incredible musician and I enjoy playing with him whenever possible."

Concert promoter Ai DeVore said, "We are bringing in a 1924 Steinway & Sons piano through the courtesy of Piano Studios and Showcase, Medford. This piano has been recently refinished so it has new strings, hammers, and dampers, but the original ivories have been preserved. This piano has been handpicked by Tutunov among many other wonderful pianos available, and this instrument will be available for purchase after the concert. A portion of the proceeds from the sale will benefit the Keyboard Studies Fund at SOU's Music Department."

Tickets are $25 general admission, $10 for students and are available at Paddington Station and at the Music Coop, Ashland.

Call 227-1710.

Cellist Michal Palzewicz - Photo courtesy of Chamber Music Concerts