Capital City Captivates Montpelier's Classical Congregation
State of the Arts
Montpelier has no dedicated performing-arts venue, but that hasn’t stopped flutist Karen Kevra. The exuberant artistic director of Capital City Concerts has held her classical-music series in the Unitarian Church on Main Street since she founded it 12 years ago. Though she still deplores the state capital’s lack of a venue as “outrageous,” Kevra is quick to point out that the church has “incredible acoustics.”
Last Friday night, the red-carpeted, 200-seat chamber seemed to suit the size and vibe of the crowd who came to hear the season’s opening concert by Trio Pasquier. The room’s semicircular pews may even have made for more intimacy in an audience that, as Kevra hinted ahead of time, tends to be frankly and energetically appreciative. From the lectern, board member Catherine Orr welcomed both the audience and musicians by declaring, “We’re all going to be one with the music.”
Kevra, her long black curls bouncing with each step, led the grandfatherly trio from Paris onto the altar to perform Mozart’s Quartet for flute, violin, viola and cello in D Major. (She usually performs a piece with each invited group.) Violinist Régis Pasquier, violist Bruno Pasquier and cellist Roland Pidoux all taught at the Paris Conservatory, and the two Pasquiers are children of brothers who formed the original, esteemed Trio Pasquier in 1927. The current trio played the Mozart with an easy familiarity and irrepressible delight born of long experience.
Kevra’s beautiful legato lines in the second movement contrasted with Trio Pasquier’s next two pieces, both written in the 1930s by Frenchmen who composed for the original Pasquiers. A grave, almost modernist polytonality characterized Albert Roussel’s Trio in A Minor from 1937, the year the composer died. Jean Françaix, who lived until 1997, was only 21 when he composed his Trio in C Major in 1933. Lighthearted and rapid, it features moments of musical humor that Pasquier executed so well, they made the audience laugh out loud.
In a final piece, Mozart’s dramatic six-movement Divertimento in E-flat Major, violinist Pasquier seemed to take too many short cuts — or perhaps the room was getting too hot for attentive listening. In any case, the music hardly ended with the program. Montpelier’s classical fans leapt up for an extended standing ovation, and the Trio obliged with an encore — and then another.
“Even at the very highest level, musicians want to play, and they want to feel appreciated by the community,” Kevra says by phone from her Montpelier home. She started Capital City Concerts because of the dearth of opportunities to do just that. After she “complained” to her late teacher, Louis Moyse — the renowned flutist, flute-music editor and cofounder of the Marlboro Music Festival — that “there wasn’t much work here,” she recalls, “his advice to me was ‘Invite your friends to come and play!’”
Kevra has lined up four more CCC concerts between November and May — months when the Unitarian Church’s warmth will be welcome. The biggest features a full orchestra backing flute, clarinet and mezzo-soprano in an all-Mozart program called, with typical Kevrian ebullience, Massively Mozart.