South Beach Chamber Ensemble
The South Beach Chamber Ensemble began in 1997 with a free concert of Haydn and Dvorak Piano Trios at the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach, Florida. The performance was so well received that the Bass Museum requested two more concerts that season. Our programs included works for flute, cello and harp, as well as Bach and Beethoven Sonatas for Cello and Piano.
Michael Andrews, the ensemble's founder, director and cellist, is committed to bringing chamber music to all people with “Music in Beautiful Spaces”. As artists-in-residence at the Bass Museum of Art, we have played to diverse audiences ranging in age from three to eighty-eight. We've also performed at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, Jewish Museum of Florida, Wolfsonian Museum, Miami Beach Community Church, St. John's on the Lake United Methodist Church and Performing Arts Network. We are one of the only arts organizations in Miami Beach dedicated to offering chamber music to new audiences while showcasing local musical talent.
The Miami Beach Cultural Arts Council has given us grants since 1999 for our ‘Music in Beautiful Spaces” series of concerts. We were excited to cross the bay in the spring of 2004 to perform for the first time at the Central Presbyterian Church in Kendall and at the University of Miami's Clarke Recital Hall. In addition to our first-rate soloists (three of whom are former Florida Philharmonic members) we also encourage and collaborate with students and faculty from the New World School of the Arts, Florida International University, University of Miami, Barry University and the New World Symphony.
In the past nine years the ensemble has performed works by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Haydn, Schubert, Saint-Saens, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Poulenc, Couperin, Turina, Piazzolla and Villa-Lobos, with special emphasis on string quartets and piano trios.
In 2003 we were proud to play a very unusual mix of pieces, mostly from South America. We opened with Villa-Lobos “Jet Whistle” for Flute and Cello, followed by a very rhythmic contrapuntal piece for violin, cello, flute and guitar by contemporary Austrian composer, Kurt Schwertsik. Sergio Assad's “Winter Impressions” for flute, viola and guitar was a wonderful evocation of Brazilian melodies and dance rhythms. We closed the program with a Uruguayan composer; Guido Santorsola's Quartet #2 for Viola, Cello, Flute and Guitar, a monumental piece that is a tour de force of chamber music making.
In February, 2004 we were excited to be invited to Budapest, Hungary for an international cultural exchange where we met brilliant, young, blind pianist Tamas Erdi. We played the spectacular Schumann Piano Quintet in Eb major with Mr. Erdi in early March in Miami Beach and Miami, just before his Carnegie Hall debut.
The SBCE had an unprecedented tripling of our financial support this year from government and private grants, including the City of Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, the State of Florida, the Florida Arts Board and Citizens Interested in Arts, Inc. Our board of directors is charged with how to best to develop as an organization. With the demise of the Florida Philharmonic and the departure of the Miami String Quartet, we believe there is a need for world-class chamber music performed in an engaging and stimulating way in South Florida.