SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

March 27, 2014

From present to past

Ensemble takes audience from 21st century to 19th

Creating a program for a concert is like choosing paintings for an exhibit.

“As artistic director, I try to curate the concerts,” said Jonathan Miller of the Boston Artists Ensemble. “I choose music the musicians want to offer the public.

“There are some pieces people are dying to hear. We like to offer those but mix it up with things they’ve never heard before.”

Given the parallel Miller draws, it’s fitting that the ensemble will play in the East India Marine Hall at Peabody Essex Museum, where they first started appearing in 1990.

“It’s a real chamber for chamber music,” Miller said. “It’s very acoustic. For string quartets, it’s wonderful.”

In addition to the gallery’s resonance, the room allows a feeling of closeness that enhances the performance for musicians and audience alike.

“If you go hear a chamber music concert in a symphony hall, it’s not the same as the experience we offer,” he said.

“The music’s right in front of you, the way it was designed to be heard. Audiences like to sit right there and sense what’s going on between us. We hope to make the music vivid.”

The give and take between musicians, which the audience can perceive, gets intense.

“When we do it well, we feel what’s going on,” Miller said. “When someone makes a gesture, you see and feel it at the same time. It’s physical and musical.”

The ensemble also plays each program at Trinity Episcopal Church in Newton, where they started playing in 1987.

Miller founded the group in 1981 as the “resident ensemble of WGBH,” where they played nationally broadcast programs for a year.

“It didn’t continue, but we started giving public concerts,” he said. “After a few years, it became inactive, but in 1987, I moved to Newton, and all our neighbors asked about it.”

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