Constellations Chamber Concerts in Washington D.C. draws together world-class artists in intense, thought-provoking programs that engage audiences with a dynamic interweaving of music from all eras and genres. The core of our philosophy is to explore and celebrate connections in music: between genres, works, composers, generations, and the performers on stage, approaching music traditional and new with a fresh perspective. Each concert in our series will feature thematically-driven chamber music in various ensembles ranging from Pre-Baroque to world premieres by living composers, with top-flight musicians who are not afraid to step out of their “comfort zone” and push new boundaries together. Our touchstones are authentic curiosity and unashamed artistic vulnerability, seeking out the magical occurrence when the artists and audience drop their guard and experience, together, moments of pure musical joy.
Constellations aims to help fulfill the basic human need for inspiration and connection through a performance medium with both a long tradition and vibrant presence in our culture: chamber music. In the history of Western classical music, chamber music has a special place as a genre that has the potential to be both breathtakingly expansive and incredibly intimate. The best chamber music unfolds as a conversation between individual personalities, each with the potential to be a dynamic soloist in their own right, but combining to form a musical experience greater than the sum of each individual part. It originated as a way for amateur musicians - family and friends - to play together in intimate settings, but evolved from a pleasant diversion into an intricate art form as composers realized its potential for musical experimentation and beauty. We honor those origins by striving to break down barriers between performers and audience in our concerts, keeping them intentionally small with the performers close enough for the audience to feel their energy directly. We will aim to create a “virtuous circle” by cultivating an adventurous and ever-more-engaged audience - one that is willing to let their ears take them on unexpected musical journeys.
Constellations also invests in education and community engagement initiatives and partnerships, including our Gift of Music program that brings inspiring and uplifting chamber music to DMV-area senior living and continuing care facilities, and "mobile concerts" throughout the community beginning in 2022.
As students unwind after a day of intense music-making at the Yellow Barn Festival, a favorite evening ritual is to lie with friends on the lawn, gazing up at the pristine and starry sky of Putney, Vermont. Constellations, as they make their seasonal dance across the night sky, reflect our instinctive desire to seek out patterns and craft stories to explain the world around us. Just as no one star can make up a constellation, no single performer can create chamber music on his or her own. Rather, the music arises out of interactions and relationships between several players, each unique yet part of the same ever-evolving musical threads that spin themselves into a cohesive pattern. These patterns exist not just within a single work but across works, composers, and generations, each adding its own light to the artistic tapestry of music history. Just as stars ancient and young form their own cosmic ties in our shared imagination, our programming seeks to illuminate and celebrate these ties between new music and music that was once new in centuries past.
The 88 officially recognized constellations—one for each key on the modern piano—probably reveal more about the people that named them than they do about celestial cartography. What may have begun as one person’s casual observation eventually morphed into the collective imagination of intricate shapes and the myths and legends that surround them, seeking greater meaning from each individual point of light in the sky. But our connection to the stars is more fundamental than a single mythology: each of us bound together from the remnants of cosmic explosions, our bodies returning to stardust after our time here on Earth is up. Gazing up into the heavens, one cannot help but feel a special bond with our forebears who stood here so long ago, looking up at the same night sky in quiet wonder. Our mission at Constellations is to explore our musical lineage with that same reverence.
Artistic Advisory Committee
Thomas Carter (Secretary & Treasurer)
Karen Kotulis-Carter (Archivist)