The Host Council serves as a resource for all who host Sheffield Chamber Players concerts in their home. We provide advice and feedback to anyone currently hosting or interested in hosting SCP concerts, as well as to the Sheffield Chamber Players themselves as they bring their music into increasing numbers of homes in and around Boston area.
An Adult Education course called “So you always wanted to play the cello!” set me on my path to becoming an early and thrilled host of the Sheffield Chamber Players. Yes, after playing violin for many years during my youth, I admitted to myself I always did want to play the cello. I began lessons and met many wonderful new friends to play chamber music with. One of them, Ping Weiner, began taking lessons with Alex Vavilov and he soon became a coach to our quartet. My husband and I were happy to have the chance to host the Sheffield concerts. It has been both fun and rewarding. Our friends have been dazzled by the chance to see, hear and better understand beautifully performed chamber pieces in a rare and meaningful way. It is actually breathtaking to be able to be so physically close to the real time making of music. In such an intimate setting, the experience of attending the concerts feels very personal to the audience and the players. After thirty years of living and working in Lexington as a psychiatrist, I’ve discovered a new community of friends in the lovely and talented professional musicians of the quartet and delighted guests who attend the concerts. This has been a wonderful and unexpected outcome of that aptly named course I took over a decade ago.
Karen Meyerhoff Sweet
I am a graduate of Harvard College and the Shady Hill School Teacher Training Course. I worked for 25 years as a dealer in contemporary art and more recently as a teacher of French and Spanish. I am an active volunteer in a number of organizations that focus on the health and education of children. I studied piano and musicianship at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore where I grew up. I began classical voice training while living in Athens, Greece, for nine years, of all places. I took up the violin recently in order to coach students at a public charter elementary school where I volunteer, and where every student learns a string instrument starting in first grade. Another goal is simply to enjoy playing and learn something new (and difficult.) Chamber music gives me the opportunity to hear classical music live and be exposed to more music than I typically hear on the radio or even in a symphony hall. I am a big fan of The Sheffield Chamber Players, their program choices, great skill and sensibility. For years to come, I hope to host their concerts and otherwise support their centuries-old but unusual mission of bringing chamber music home.
By day I work as Associate Executive Director of the American Mathematical Society. What this means is that I run a publishing business that allows my organization to provide programs and services for our 30,000 members and mathematicians generally around the world. Because this business is a non-profit, I am fortunate to be able meld a mission-driven approach with a business approach. Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and in fact I would not be surprised if even in the womb, my toes formed tapping along to Bach, Britten, or Schubert – my parents’ favorites. My family leads full lives -- my wife is a professor of gerontology at UMass Boston, and my children (12 and15) embrace many activities (perhaps too many) from rowing to skating – but music is an indelible part of it. We sing, play cello, flute, violin and piano. For us, the magic of the Sheffield Chamber players is that they have brought their music into our home. When the Sheffield Chamber Players give a concert, you experience this wall of intricate sound in a way that is impossible to do in a larger setting. As a host, I have enjoyed bringing this music to friends and family. We hold a concert, yes, but we also have a party, and there is nothing that bonds friends closer together than the power of music -- and perhaps a few glasses of wine.
I had the great fortune of growing up in a musical family. My mother, uncle and two aunts were members of a professional quartet and performed for years in Europe before coming to the United States. Growing up in NYC, we often had quartets and other forms of chamber music playing in our living room. And when they weren’t playing, there were usually musicians passionately debating how to best express what the composer had in mind. (Admittedly, at that time I frequently departed to my bedroom to listen to the Beatles instead.) For the last several decades, my love for music continued in more impersonal settings - either in concert halls, over the radio or through my computer. When my husband and I were introduced to the Sheffield Chamber Players a few short years ago, we were delighted to be, once more, in the ‘salon’ setting, where chamber music is frequently at its best, and in the most personal and enjoyable setting.
Viola has had a long career in Health Care administration and Higher Education, and is currently the Senior Director of Academic Affairs and Student Experience at the Brandeis International Business School. She and her husband live in Sudbury, MA.