'Strings in Every Which Way' at Firehouse Arts Center at 2 p.m. today

Chamber Players performing Mendelssohn, Dvorák, Tchaikovsky

Pleasanton Chamber Players, an eclectic group of local professional musicians, will present a program dubbed "Strings in Every Which Way" at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Firehouse Arts Center.

On the program are Mendelssohn's Octet in E flat major for four violins, two violas, and two cellos, Op. 20; Dvorák's Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81; and Tchaikovsky's Adagio Molto for String Quartet and Harp.

The violinists are renowned concertmaster Philip Santos from Oakland, Cecilia Huang and Darcy Van Valkenburgh from Pleasanton, and Katheryn Hewatt from Oakland. Micah Naler of Pleasanton and Fremont resident Melissa Huang are the violists.

The cellists are Paul Rhodes from Concord and Pleasanton's Michelle Kwon. Pianist Danielle Naler is from Pleasanton, and harpist and PCP Artistic Director Dominique Piana resides in Livermore.

This year's annual spring offering will be a feast of string music as well as two "non-bowed" stringed instruments: the piano and the harp. The harp is a representative of the "plucked strings" family, and the piano's hidden strings (the so-called "piano harp" inside the body of the piano) are hammered strings.

The Mendelssohn and the Dvorák are masterpieces of the chamber music repertoire, and the Tchaikovsky is a "short gem," noted the Chamber Players.

Mendelssohn composed his celebrated Octet as a 16-year old prodigy in the autumn of 1825. The piece is scored as a double string quartet, with four violin, two viola and two cello parts. All the instrumental parts get to shine equally in a piece that combines deep exaltation of life with astounding and equally deep musical mastery -- all this from a 16-year-old.

Dvorák composed his second Quintet, Op. 81 for piano and strings in the fall of 1887 after what he considered a failed attempt to revamp his first Quintet, Op. 5, which he had retrieved from a friend after trashing it shortly after its premiere. This new work brims with lively allusions to the Bohemian folk style.

Tchaikovsky's Adagio Molto came to life as a student exercise in 1863 or 1864 at the St. Petersburg Conservatory.

The Pleasanton Chamber Players was founded in 2003, by local professional musicians who gather to play the music they love in their own community. Whether long established or in the process of building their career, each member shares a passion to perpetuate their art through teaching and performing.

Reserved seating tickets for the concert are $15-$20, with senior and student discounts available. Purchase online at, by phone at 931-4848; or at the Firehouse Arts Center Box Office, 4444 Railroad Ave.

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