Music lovers know that when the weather outside is hot, The Lyceum is cool. And so they find their way to The Lyceum every Sunday for one of Mount Vernon Orchestra's Annual Chamber Music Series performances. This series was started 14 years ago by Ulysses S. James, musical director for the Mount Vernon Orchestra, and it is still going strong.
"We wanted to reach out to the community so they could get to know us a little better," James said. "The Lyceum is the best chamber music venue in the City of Alexandria that I'm aware of. They're wonderful hosts; they've been wonderful to us and we enjoy doing it. From the standpoint of music, it's a perfect venue."
James said that the basic motivation is to provide the community with the best chamber music. It also gives musicians both in and out of orchestra an opportunity to play.
"Those who support our efforts are the people who generally perform. Members of the audience are true chamber music lovers and a very sincere group of people," James said.
Mary Young is one of those who attend the series every week. A violinist all her life, she played in the orchestra with James for 10 years. She's 90 years old now, but still enjoys the music.
"I love their series; I love all the things they do," Young said. "I couldn't get over how talented the performers were last week; I thought they were special."
YOUNG WAS REFERRING to violinist Rena Kimura and pianist Audrey Andrist. The two gave a compelling performance, playing pieces from Beethoven, Frank, Bach, Chopin and Ravel. Kimura graduated from the National Cathedral School (NCS) in Washington, D.C. this year; she is planning to attend Columbia University this fall. Kimura led the joint NCS/St. Albans School Orchestra for the past four years; she also served as the concertmaster of the American Youth Philharmonic.
Andrist is a graduate of Julliard's doctoral program, where she studied with Herbert Stessin. She is a member of the Stern/Andrist Duo with her husband, violinist, James Stern; she is also a member of the trio, "Strata." Andrist had performed with the Juilliard Orchestra, National Arts Center Orchestra and CBC Vancouver Symphony. These two performers are just one example of the incredible talent that is shared in this series.