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Florida Orchestra concertmaster Jeffrey Multer returns to chamber music roots

Jeff Multer has been concertmaster of the Florida Orchestra since the 2005-06 season, but in some ways, he is more known as a chamber musician.

"If you go by the resume, I'd have to say it's mostly string quartets and other chamber music that I've played," Multer, 47, says. "Just since I joined the Florida Orchestra have I been a full-time orchestra player."

On Wednesday Multer returns to his chamber music roots as the violinist of the Palladium Chamber Players at the St. Petersburg theater from which the group takes its name. He'll be playing with three New York-based musicians: Danielle Farina, viola; Edward Arron, cello; and Jeewon Park, piano.

Three of the musicians — Multer, Farina and Arron — played together in the Elements String Quartet, which was Multer's main group before he joined the orchestra.

Their program includes a trio of classic works: Beethoven's Op. 16 quartet for piano and strings, Dohnanyi's Serenade for string trio and the Brahms Quartet in A Major. The group — as the Elements Piano Quartet — will play the same program Feb. 24 at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico.

Multer seeks to succeed the Encore chamber music series, which had a good run of more than a decade at the Palladium, much of it under the direction of composer and conductor Mark Sforzini. For Multer, who played in Encore programs, the standard was set by the 2006 concert by members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in an all-Mozart program.

"Everybody came to that concert," Multer says. "It was a really big house. It makes me think that the area is open to the idea of super high-level chamber music."

Multer hopes this week's concert is enough of a success to pave the way for a four-concert series at the Palladium next season. His plan is to use himself, Farina, Arron and Park as the core players, supplemented by other top-level musicians that they know. Cellist Arron in particular is well connected as artistic director of the chamber music program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as well as series in Connecticut and South Carolina. Arron and pianist Park are married.

Combining orchestra work with chamber music has been good for Multer. "Being in the concertmaster chair and doing the kinds of things I have to learn about and do there have been really good for me in terms of broadening, because the chamber music life is very specialized," he said. "Doing a string quartet full time, you can get burned out. Orchestra playing for me was a breath of fresh air. Now going back to work with these people on occasion — my favorite people to play with — I kind of have the best of both worlds."

In early February, Multer had expected to be in Havana, playing the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, as part of the Florida Orchestra's cultural exchange with musical institutions on the island. But that trip was postponed because of a snag with the U.S. Treasury Department, which regulates spending in Cuba by American travelers under the embargo. The orchestra hopes to reschedule Multer's exchange this spring.

The Palladium Chamber Players concert is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $10-$36. (727) 822-3590; mypalladium.org.

Modern dance troupe in Tarpon

Koresh Dance Company is in residence this week at Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center. Founded 20 years ago by Israel-born choreographer Ronen Koresh, the Philadelphia-based company will give workshops Friday and Saturday and a performance of contemporary dance, including Koresh's setting of Ravel's Bolero, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday; $10-$25. At a lunch-and-learn event at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Heritage Museum, Koresh will give a talk about Israeli influences on his work, his decision to leave the country and the current state of the arts there; $12, $15. (727) 942-5605; tarponarts.org.

John Fleming can be reached at fleming@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8716.

Florida Orchestra concertmaster Jeffrey Multer returns to chamber music roots 02/16/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 2:16pm]
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