Music series

Westmoreland Symphony chamber music series returns to Unity Chapel

After outdoor dates during the pandemic at Hempfield Park, Westmoreland Symphony’s Chamber Music Summer Series returns to its longtime home at Unity Chapel for two performances.

The series opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday with the Pittsburgh-based Beo chain Quartetfamiliar to WSO audiences from previous appearances.

The quartet plays original compositions, as well as pieces by contemporary composers and masterpieces from the classical quartet.

The Unity Chapel performance will feature the debut of “People,” a piece by quartet violist Sean Neukom. Other members are violinists Jason Neukom and Andrew Giordano and cellist Ryan Ash.

Jason Neukom has been playing with the WSO for 15 years and is the assistant concertmaster.

“Having played there for so many years, I feel a strong connection to the community despite being based in Pittsburgh,” he said. “This season, most of our shows are on the east and west coasts of the United States, as well as in South America, so we like the opportunity to perform closer to home.”

Giordano is new to the quartet, having previously performed with the Colorado-based Altius Quartet.

“‘People’ offers no narrative context other than the title,” Jason Neukom said. “The work begins with the rain and the sound effects created by the violins. Viola and cello introduce a languorous and fragmented melody. The melody slowly rises to a state of triumph and optimism.

“How it ends is, in a way, up to the listener,” he said. “You might be fooled into thinking that the quartet uses digital effects throughout, but it’s all done through acoustic techniques.”

“People” is the latest composition in a crossover show developed by Beo, which is scheduled to premiere in the spring of 2023.

The program also includes Jason Neukom’s arrangement of “The Legend of Zelda” by Koji Kondo, String Quartet No. 8 in C minor by Shostakovich, Op. 110; and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op. 18 #1.

There is a thematic connection between his piece and Beethoven, said Sean Neukom.

“For this program, we fell in love with the idea that the string quartet could, on the one hand, be used to tell a specific story through music and, on the other hand, present music whose material is and by itself the story told. ,” he said. “The Beethoven on the program provides a nice contrast to this specificity: beautifully crafted music — volatile in its own way — but the composer offered no suggested subject matter other than the music itself.

“Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 is written ‘In memory of the victims of fascism and war’,” he added.

Now in its seventh season, Beo has performed more than 100 concert works in the United States and Europe, including more than 45 world premieres.

The second concert in the chamber music series will feature Baroque Chatham at 7:30 p.m. on August 11 in the chapel at 111 Chapel Lane, Unity.

Founded in 1990, Pittsburgh-based Chatham Baroque plays music from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque and early Classical.

General admission is $15 at the door. The benefits benefit the WSO Youth Symphony Orchestra.

For more information, call 724-837-1850 or visit

Shirley McMarlin is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .