This is a past event.

The Ensemble of St. Clare at Mepkin Abbey 

When: Mon., May 31, 4 p.m. 2010
Price: $36
www.piccolospoleto.com

This excellent group, comprised of some of Charleston’s leading professional classical musicians, performs a special concert. Program includes William Billings’ When Jesus Wept; George Frideric Handel’s Concerto Grosso Op. 6, #1; Fantasia on Greensleeves by Ralph Vaughn Williams; Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet; Bach Concerto for Oboe and Violin and Vaughn Williams’ The Lark Ascending, performed by Yuriy Bekker. Featured soloists are Yuriy Bekker, violin; Mark Gainer, oboe and Gretchen Schneider Roper, clarinet. Alex Agrest conducts. Part of Piccolo Spoleto Festival.

Soothe your soul
The Mepkin Abbey Concerts are among the most keenly anticipated and memorable events offered by Piccolo Spoleto. And no wonder: The idyllic Mepkin Abbey grounds are a tranquil paradise. Musicians and listeners alike can't get enough of the Abbey church's warm and revealing acoustics; you simply won't believe how good music sounds there until you've heard it for yourself. Plus, there's the elegant (and yummy) wine and hors d'oeuvres reception under the oaks following the concerts.

Twice as nice
The first concert this year — on May 31 — will showcase some of Charleston's finest resident instrumentalists, performing as the Ensemble of St. Clare under the deft baton of Alex Agrest. Their program will be a varied and generous mix of small orchestral classics and chamber music, featuring Vaughan Williams' beloved Fantasia on Greensleeves and The Lark Ascending, a pair of prime concertos by Bach and Handel, plus Mozart's sublime Clarinet Quintet, among others. Featured soloists are the Charleston Symphony's crack concertmaster Yuriy Bekker and principal oboe Mark Gainer. You'll also hear Gretchen Schneider Roper's dulcet clarinet.

Tearjerker
A choice chamber program follows on June 10, entitled Cause and Effect: Music in Response to the Holocaust. You'll hear a fetching arrangement of Ernest Bloch's Silent Devotion, from his Sacred Service. Then we'll get Olivier Messiaen's deep and daring Quartet for the End of Time, written and first performed in a concentration camp. The distinguished performers will be violinist Nicole Benton, cellist Bryon Hogan, and pianist Ghadi Shayban, plus clarinetist Roper from the previous event.

— Lindsay Koob

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