Q&A: Sandra Nikolajevs, Chamber Music Charleston 

Fresh off Carnegie performance

Sandra Nikolajevs (top, center) and Chamber Music Charleston musicians recently represented the Holy City at Carnegie Hall

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Sandra Nikolajevs (top, center) and Chamber Music Charleston musicians recently represented the Holy City at Carnegie Hall

The talented musicians of Chamber Music Charleston represented the Holy City at the legendary Carnegie Hall in New York City on May 22. The group follows up their groundbreaking concert with an encore performance back home at Piccolo Spoleto. We caught up with Chamber Music Charleston's President and Artistic Director Sandra Nikolajevs to get the scoop on the Carnegie Hall show and to see what we should expect from their homecoming performance.

City Paper: How did you guys get the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall?

Sandra Nikolajevs: About two years ago as we were looking toward our future goals, we decided to look outside of Charleston for opportunities to shine the light on the extremely talented musicians who perform with us regularly. I tend to think big, and I immediately thought it would be amazing to have the chance to showcase them at such a renowned stage as Carnegie Hall. We sent our materials to Carnegie Hall and last February were provided with a date to perform.

CP: Can you give me some more details on the Carnegie concert itself?

SN: For the concert, we have created a program that shows the rich musical history of Charleston, from the St. Cecelia Society of the 19th century to music of George Gershwin. We also commissioned a composer to write a contemporary work that would embrace the current artistic climate of Charleston. From that we got "Charleston Episodes" by Terry Vosbien, written for flute, bassoon, and string trio. To round off the program we will perform Brahms' masterful Piano Quintet in F minor.

CP: What do you think is the most exciting part about performing in New York City?

SN: I think the most exciting part of this opportunity is the chance to show the audiences of New York that there is exceptional quality, vibrant classical music being made in Charleston year-round. I also look forward to sharing with the audience our particular format of performing, in which I interact with the audience by providing information and entertaining commentary between the pieces. Through this format I feel that we are able to truly embrace the audience and involve them in the complete artistic experience.

CP: Why do you think it's important to have an encore show back in town?

SN: While we are so fortunate to have a large group of supporters traveling to N.Y.C. to hear us perform, we knew that many people would not be able to make the trip, but they would still be enthusiastic to hear our performance. The timing ended up working perfectly to be able to repeat the program for Piccolo Spoleto. The Piccolo performance will be our very last concert of our season, and it gives us a great excuse to celebrate. To that end, we are going to have a great post-concert reception where everyone, from our musicians and volunteers to the general audience, can celebrate!

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