by Michael Caruso

With Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, just behind us, it’s not too soon to think about the resumption of the classical music scene in Chestnut Hill. Although it may be a relatively small zip code within Greater Philadelphia, many of the region’s most devoted supporters of classical music call Chestnut Hill their home.

And that’s not the end of it. Several of Chestnut Hill’s churches boast impressive musical ensembles of their own and are, as well, the venue-of-choice for many of Philadelphia’s leading musical ensembles. Combing both of these characteristics, the Music Guild of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill, hosts a series of chamber music recitals under the title of “Five Fridays.” The performances take place in the intimate setting of the labyrinth at the back of the church’s neo-gothic sanctuary.

The parish has assembled a generous roster of sponsors that covers the cost of hiring the musicians so that all ticket proceeds can be directed to support Face to Face Germantown and the Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network. Both organizations strive to alleviate the ongoing crisis of homelessness in cities like Philadelphia all across United States. Despite a “booming economy,” millions of Americans face the daily danger and spiritual humiliation of homelessness.

“Five Fridays” presents local classical music lovers with the golden opportunity of hearing magnificent masterpieces performed by up-and-coming musicians at the start of their careers while at the same time offering a channel for meaningful charity.

The 2019-20 season begins with a performance by the Jasper String Quartet Friday, Oct. 4, at 7:30 p.m. The Quartet is comprised of violinists J. Freivogel & Karen Kim, violist Sam Quintal and cellist Rachel Henderson Freivogel.

Their program opens with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Quartet in C minor, Opus 18, no. 4. The program’s first half is rounded out by Franz Liszt’s transcriptions of three lieder by Franz Schubert: “Ave Maria,” “Auf dem Wasser zu singen” and “Erlkonig.” After intermission, the Quartet will play Robert Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Opus 44, with pianist Ching-Yun Hu joining the string players at the church’s vintage Steinway & Sons grand piano.

The rest of the 2019-20 season features pianist Zhenni Li on Nov. 8, the Vera Quartet on Feb. 7, the Trio Eos (vocal ensemble) on March 27 and harpist Emily Levin & flutist Beomjae Kim on May 1.

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