Wednesday, May 11, 2011

'White Nights' in Richmond

James Wilson’s Richmond Festival of Music returns this week with “White Nights,” three evenings plus an afternoon of chamber music from Scandinavia and Russia.

Three ticketed performances are scheduled: May 13 and 16 at First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1000 Blanton Ave. at the Carillon, May 14 at the Wilton House Museum, 215 S. Wilton Road, all at 7:30 p.m. The festival also will present a free performance of Tchaikovsky’s “The Seasons” with readings from Russian literature at noon May 14 in the Gellman Room of the Richmond Public Library’s main branch, First and Franklin streets.

The festival, staged each spring (with previews and supplementary concerts in the winter), seeks “to present [works] one doesn’t normally hear in chamber music concerts,” as Wilson comments in an online note to patrons. So, while many of this season’s featured composers – Grieg, Nielsen, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius – are familiar names, few pieces on the programs are staples of the chamber repertory.

Perhaps the rarest selections will be performed in the May 14 Wilton House concert, a sampler of baroque works from Sweden and Denmark, including several by Johan Helmich Roman, known as “the Swedish Handel,” played alongside contemporary pieces by the Russian composers Valentin Silvestrov and Alfred Schnittke.

Joining cellist Wilson will be several veterans of past seasons of the festival, such as violinist Carmit Zori, flutist Mary Boodell and pianist-harpsichordist Carsten Schmidt, as well as several new faces: baroque violinist Fiona Hughes, pianist Rieko Aizawa, violinist Jesse Mills and cellist Philip Borter.

Tickets are $25 per concert, $20 for seniors, $5 for students.

For ticket reservations, call (804) 519-2098. For more information on the artists and programs, visit the Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia website: