COLUMBIA — Since its founding, Columbia's Odyssey Chamber Music Series has celebrated chamber music with a distinctive variety of programming and performances. The Odyssey Gala Benefit, including a concert and reception, marks the beginning of the series' fifth season this Friday.
"Columbia is quite an exceptional town because considering its size, it hosts several classical concert series throughout the year," said Ayako Tsuruta, the artistic director for the series. Tsuruta, a pianist, has the dual role of artistic director and performer and acknowledges she has lost count of how many times she has performed in the past four series.
What: Odyssey Chamber Music Series kickoff
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: First Baptist Church, 1112 E. Broadway
Admission: $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and students
Odyssey's new season will have eight performances, with guest artists hailing from Italy, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and, much closer to home, Missouri State University in Springfield and MU's Esterhazy Quartet.
Esterhazy will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a concert March 13. To help with a collaboration between Esterhazy and a past grand prize-winning quartet from Columbia's Plowman Chamber Music Competition, donations going toward that event will be accepted at the Friday gala. At the performance, the quartet will become a sextet with the addition of violist Don McInnis and pianist Peter Miyamoto for a performance of Joaquin Turina's "Sextet for Viola, Piano and String Quartet." The piece is rarely programmed because of its difficulty and unique instrumentation, Tsuruta said.
Unique pairings are one of the hallmarks of the Odyssey series — for example, an oboe and tambourine duet or a marimba-violin-clarinet trio. And classical and avant-garde music are often programmed for the same concert.
"It is my hope that this variety of instrumentation, art, music and musicians will open listeners' interest to more contemporary performances,all the while further deepening the appreciation for classical music,"Tsuruta said.
The Friday evening performance will end with an opportunity for audience members to meet the musicians at a reception.
Odyssey's newest fan is also expected to be in attendance; Lauren Kumiko Miyamoto was born Sept. 12 to Tsuruta and Peter Miyamoto.