Happy Hour Chamber Concerts

Welcome to Happy Hour Chamber Concerts. We present short programs of really good chamber music in an informal setting. All programs (60-75 minutes with no intermission) will be in the intimate and very pleasant sanctuary at Epiphany Lutheran Church, 790 South Corona Street, Denver on Fridays at 6 p.m. Light refreshments are available.

What people are saying.

"that was a wonderful concert - it seems the perfect format too. The timing was great too - we were able to go out after the concert, instead of having to rush through a dinner to make it in time"

"enjoyed reading the program notes in advance online, and not having to read while the performer was playing"

"We are sooooooo happy that the concert was such a success - we salute you ! "

"What a wonderful venue - the Cadmus Ensemble concert was fabulous !"

“there are plenty of reasons to be happy about the fledgling Happy Hour Chamber Concerts …the music is long on substance and the programs well thought out…a great option for people who want a musical warm-up before a nice dinner on the town…." Mark Rinaldi, Denver Post

Friday, 24 February 2017, 6 p.m.

Jubal Fulks: Virtuosic Baroque Violin Plus

What do compositions for solo violin from the Baroque era have in common with Steve Reich’s 1967 minimalist work for solo violin and looping effects, “Violin Phase?” Come find out on February 24!!

Jubal Fulks


JS Bach (1685-1750)
Partita no. 3 for solo violin

Preludio – Loure - Gavotte en rondeaux - Menuet 1 and 2 - Bourée - Gigue

J.S. Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany in 1685 and died in Liepzig in 1750. Because of the composer’s towering presence and far-reaching musical influence, the Baroque era is widely regarded to have ended with his passing. His Sei Solo, a Violino senza Basso accompagnato were written while Bach served as Kappellmeister to Prince Leopold of Köthen, known to be a Calvinist theologically opposed to a prominent role for music in worship. Consequently, Bach focused almost exclusively on secular music during this time, including the Brandenburg concerti, the solo violin sonatas, cello suites, and sonatas for violin and continuo. The Partita No. 3 is in the bright key of E major, and begins with a perpetual-motion Prelude, followed by the dance movements Loure, Gavotte en Rondeux, a pair of Menuets, Bourrée, and Gigue. Except for the Gavotte, which is repeated in round form, the dances are in two-part form, with the repeats providing ample opportunity for the violinist to invent embellishments.

HIF von Biber (1644-1704)
Passacaglia for solo violin

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644 – 1704) was born in Wartenburg, Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic). Biber’s livelihood in music was assured in 1690 when he successfully petitioned Emperor Leopold I, a member of the Habsburg family, for ennoblement. He was then awarded the station of “Lord High Steward,” which earned him a stipend, lodging, bread, wine, and firewood—a fine life indeed! The Passacaglia concludes a set of works otherwise for violin and continuo, portraying the fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary, known as the “Mystery” sonatas. These pieces date from the 1670’s, when Biber was in the service of Archbishop Maximilian Gandolph von Khuenberg in Salzburg. A Passacaglia is a type of recurring bass line, much like the underlying progression of J.S. Bach’s famous Chaconne. In fact, it is likely that Bach would have been familiar with Biber’s work, and that this Passacaglia served to prepare the way for Bach’s epoch-defining work. In Biber’s version, the bass line is a simple descending four-note phrase, repeated throughout, with variations on top. This Passacaglia is one of the very first examples of solo violin music, and certainly the most virtuosic of the turn of the eighteenth century.

Steve Reich (b. 1936)
Violin Phase

American composer Steve Reich’s “Violin Phase” is very much a “passacaglia” for the 21st century. Written in 1967, it is composed mainly of a short, single, repeated, pulsing motive. As the motive repeats, the performer “phases” in between subdivisions of beats, finally landing on the next subdivision precisely, creating a rhythmic version of tension and resolution, and eventually creating a whole new motive. These are contrasted with sections where new material is performed on top of the repeating musical line, in very much the same way that Biber conceived of his “passacaglia” three hundred years prior.

Friday, 31 March 2017, 6 p.m.

Happy Birthday JSB: An Evening in the Palace of Reason

Because of the shift from the Julian to the Georgian calendar, scholars now think Bach's actual birthday is March 31 (the date of this Happy Hour!). I've organized a Bach birthday program. I've entitled, the program: Evening in the Palace of Reason. The book by that title by. James R. Gaines describes the interaction that Bach and Frederick the Great had which resulted in the Musical Offering.

Sarah Biber

Frank Nowell