Exploring Bach's Goldberg Variations

Friday February 28, 2:00pm

MIT Chapel

Free and open to the public

An interdisciplinary discussion and performance examining the art and science of one of the world’s most beloved and intriguing musical masterpieces, led by Leo Eguchi and MIT Engineering Professor Markus Buehler.

Visions of Paradise: Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No. 2

Sunday March 8, 7:30pm

Pendleton Grand Music Salon (Pendleton Hall West 201)

Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA

Free and open to the public

"The end is in the beginning and lies far ahead..."

Friday March 20, 7:30pm

Salem Athenaeum, Salem, MA

members: $20 | non-members: $25 | students: $12

Purchase tickets


four oranges2.jpg

Sonata for Violin and Cello                           Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre  (1665—1729)

O, Ecclesia                                                             Hildegard von Bingen (1098—1179)

Valencia                                                                                 Caroline Shaw  (b. 1982)




String Quartet No. 2  in F-major, Op.22                     Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky (1840—1893)

Hildegard von Bingen believed music to be a junction point between earth and heaven, and that it is through music that we can still experience the Paradise that is lost. She wrote music of unimaginable beauty guided by her divine visions, while almost a millennia later Caroline Shaw tends to find her inspiration in the most trivial and unexpected places, such as a Valencia orange. The Muse seems to have never left Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, who impressed the court of king Louis XIV with her effortless improvisation, and certainly made one of her frequent visits to Tchaikovsky, who wrote his second quartet pretty much in one sitting.



String Quartet in D-major, Op.18, No.3                      Ludwig van Beethoven (1770—1827)




String Quartet No.5 in B-flat major, Op.92                       Dmitri Shostakovich (1906—1975)

Our annual exploration of Beethoven and Shostakovich continues with a pairing of two of the most elegant and yet personal works they wrote.  Beethoven's Op.18 no. 3 is the very first string quartet he wrote. Graceful, whimsical, and virtuosic, it shows the combination of skill and originality which Beethoven purposed to express the most earnest of emotions. Shostakovich’s 5th String Quartet contains some of his most sparsely beautiful music, intertwined with a whirlwind of energy and personal expression. Shostakovich quotes a melody from a trio written by his pupil, the stunningly original composer Galina Ustvolskaya. Shostakovich’s admiration of Ustvolskaya’s talent and her person was enthusiastic, perhaps even passionate, and he channelled it into this work.



Goldberg Variations BWV 988                                Johann Sebastian Bach  (1685—1750)

     arranged for string trio by Dmitry Sitkovetsky

For the first time, Sheffield Chamber Players present a single stand alone work, Bach's monumental Goldberg Variations, arranged for string trio. According to legend, the work was composed for an insomniac Count, who is said to have requested "smooth, lively music" for his musician—Goldberg—to play to help him sleep, or cheer him if he couldn't. The veracity of this story is heavily disputed, but whatever prompted Bach to write these variations, the work displays a dazzling mastery of form, symmetry, and counterpoint. Over the span of about an hour, you will find yourself exploring the human condition through each variation before being returned to the Aria, identical to the first notes you heard, but transformed by the journey.



Be In for String Quartet and Bass Clarinet                                         Evan Ziporyn (b.1959)

Four Marys                                                                                   Julia Wolfe  (b. 1958)

Lies You Can Believe In                                                               Missy Mazzoli (b. 1980)




Clarinet Quintet in A-major, K581                       Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756—1791)

This finale to the season features all-star clarinetist and composer Evan Ziporyn on a meaningful excursion into the driving rhythmic heartbeat that is innate to some, our deepest shared musical expressions.  Our first set takes us from the earthy Bass Clarinet grooves of Evan’s own Be-In, through the edgy sound world of Pulitzer Prize winner Julia Wolfe’s Four Marys, and closes with Missy Mazzoli’s truly rock and roll Lies You Can Believe In.  Mozart’s sublime Clarinet Quintet comprises the second half, highlighting his most heavenly melodic material alongside his characteristic rhythmic clarity, showing us why he is the original king of Rock and Roll.

© 2018 by Sheffield Chamber Players

a 501(c)3 non-profit organization

Sheffield Chamber Players

9 Arborway Terrace

Boston, MA 02130

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council

and administered by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture.