Concordia Concert Pays Tribute To A Happy Place

By Roy Ziegler

Marcia Chapman and Robert Maggio
Shown before a photo of Marty Luther

Photo by Brian Keyes

It is rare to hear a chamber music concert begin with a recorded voice. But rarely has a chamber group’s board of directors been so fortunate to have had a member like the late Marty Luther with such commitment and passion for the orchestra.

Composer, Robert Maggio, interviewed Luther last fall after the New Hope and Lambertville communities sustained heavy flood damage. He was not morose, but upbeat. Marty recounted the many ways that residents pulled together to recover from the devastation by holding clambakes and fundraisers and by just being there for one another. It’s what makes this community the “happy place” to which Marty referred in the introduction to Maggio’s “We Gathered at the River,” reflections on a memorial service at the riverside, for cello and piano. Anyone who had known Marty Luther knows that when you were in his company you were in a happy place.

So Maggio’s composition evoked feelings of melancholy and the joy of his memory tinged with grief in those he so suddenly left behind.

Three Madrigals for violin and viola by Bohuslav Martinu quickly changed the somber mood when Carmit Zori, violinist and Robert Rinehart on the viola provided an animated atmosphere with perfectly locked-in, syncopated rhythms. The uplifting mood continued with Bela Bartok’s Contrasts combining Hungarian folk music with Rumanian dances and Bulgarian and Greek measures. David Krakauer’s eloquently plaintive clarinet seemed to be upbraiding the slothfully sounding violin of Calvin Wiersma cheered on by Gail Niwa’s sympathetic piano.

The concert closed with the seldom heard, but widely acclaimed Piano Quintet, Opus 81 by Antonin Dvorak. The Concordia Players led by cellist and artistic director, Michelle Djokic won a sustained standing ovation which made one wonder why this work is not performed more frequently.

The Concordia Chamber Players will be featured in the Princeton Festival at the Lawrenceville School’s popular Kirby Arts Center on July 8 at 8 PM. Tickets may be reserved by calling 215.297.5972 or or

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