Forest Hills Chamber Music Series

This chamber music series strives to highlight Jewish composers of the past 100 years through pairing their works with 18th and 19th-century masterworks of the same instrumentation. This series also hopes to reach audiences in the Forest Hills community that may not readily have access to live, top-quality chamber music. The first concert on November 17 featured string trios. The next concert, on February 9, will feature clarinet quintets.  The final concert of this season will be held on May 3.

February 9, 2:00 p.m.

Clarinet Quintets–from Classical to Klezmer

Widely considered one of the most influential composers of all time, Mozart wrote some of the earliest significant works for clarinet. In 1789, Mozart added a clarinet to the still-new string quartet (a form brought to prominence by Haydn just 25 years prior) and created the very first clarinet quintet! This piece epitomizes Mozart’s musical genius and sense of humor, with many passionate melodies, beautiful counterpoint, and a thrilling set of theme and variations.

Written over 200 years later, Osvaldo Golijov’s Clarinet Quintet, The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind, presents a strikingly different, contemporary take on this classical instrumentation. Born in 1960 to Jewish-Romanian immigrants in Argentina, Golijov grew up listening to Jewish liturgical chants and klezmer music. These influences could not be heard more clearly than in his epic clarinet quintet, where he directly quotes prominent chants from the High Holy Days as well as popular klezmer dance tunes.

Inspired by the 800-year-old writings of Isaac the Blind, the great kabbalist Rabbi of Provence, Golijov strives to trace the history of the Jewish people through this work. He remarks: “The movements of this work sound to me as if written in three of the different languages spoken by the Jewish people throughout our history. This somehow reflects the composition’s epic nature. I hear the prelude and the first movement, the most ancient, in Aramaic; the second movement is in Yiddish, the rich and fragile language of a long exile; the third movement and postlude are in sacred Hebrew.”


The cost of this program is $18 per person in advance and $25 at the door.  Children 13 and under are free.  Online registration is available until February 8 by clicking here.