Celebrating Rush Hour’s 10th anniversary this year gives me pause occasionally to stop and remember. On a recent muse, I found myself thinking back to 1983 when I was heavily involved with the envisioning and founding of The Chicago Chamber Musicians (CCM). At the time, most people’s concept of “chamber music” was a string quartet, a piano trio, or a woodwind quintet. The idea of a “mixed ensemble” – one with a variety of instruments, working and playing together like the more traditional chamber music ensembles – was novel, if not intriguing. The notion of hearing a string quartet, a piano quintet, and perhaps a piece for strings and winds together all on the same concert program caught on; people loved the variety, the expanded sound palette, the new repertoire.
CCM was one of the first “mixed ensembles” of its kind, modeling itself in part on the grandfather of this genre, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, founded in 1969. Over the last twenty some years, more and more young musicians have been following the CCM model – a group of eight to fifteen musicians representing the string, woodwind, piano and often brass families. The groups morph into smaller combinations, offering their audiences a vast expanse of repertoire. Our artists this week, Fifth House Ensemble, are one such group. It gives me great pleasure to invite them to play again on Rush Hour. I know you will enjoy their energy, enthusiasm, and spirit. And there is no better piece to showcase these attributes than Poulenc’s Sextet for piano and winds.
– Deborah Sobol