As last weekend’s positively polar plunge confirmed, winter is still very much a thing in this neck of the Greater Red Bank Green. But if the season of the single digits boasts of any truly elegant pleasures, it’s the ability to warm oneself in front of a chamber-music hearth while the outside world goes slipping and cursing about its business.
And the days and nights to come offer music lovers several opportunities to slip into something a bit more civilized; all of them free of charge.This Saturday, Red Bank’s Monmouth Conservatory Of Music continues its best-kept-secret series of free public performances, hosted at its White Street facility in the heart of the downtown district. Beginning at 4 p.m., the Composer’s Concert will spotlight three prodigiously talented conservatory students — pianist/marimbist Omal El-Abidin, pianist Christopher Fahey, and pianist/ horn player Andrew Kosinski — showcasing their own original compositions. It’s a rare look and listen at a next-generation group of young artists from our own figurative back yard — and a bookend to a weekend of winter wonders.
“Let It Snow.” “Sleigh Ride.” “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.” And of course that solemn and sacred oratorio “It’s a Marshmallow World in the Winter” (by part-time Monmouth County resident Peter De Rose). These popular celebrations of the season’s frosty delights have unjustly been relegated to the Christmas-music clearance bins just at the time when we should be appreciating them most. This Sunday, the Radiance Chamber Ensemble endeavors to reclaim these and other seasonal chestnuts, as the group performs a concert of classics from the cold-weather canon.
Hosted in the Community Room of the Middletown Township Public Library, the 2 p.m. recital finds the violinists Lea Karpman and Michael Schneider, pianist Joan Baldwin violist Peggy Reynolds and cellist Oliver Shapiro presenting a themed program that also includes the “Winter” portion of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker suite, and “Winter in Argentina” by Astor Piazzolla.
The music returns to the MTPL Community Room on the evening of Thursday, February 25, when the library welcomes back pianist and composer Julia Muench for a 7 p.m, concert. The Monmouth Conservatory faculty member — a special talent whose previous visit to Middletown found her paying tribute to her ancestor Frederick Muench and other 19th-century German immigrants to the U.S. shores — is slated to team up with guitarist and vocalist Kenneth Forrest for a program that posits a re-think of the music teacher’s traditional “Three B’s” as “Beatles, Beethoven and the Blues.”
As always, there’s no charge to attend, and while seating is limited, no reservations are required.