Nov. 14—FAIRMONT — As an audience of over 90 guests from Marion County and beyond settled into the pews of St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church on Sunday afternoon, they were quickly greeted with the instrumental melodies of renowned music ensemble the Georgetown Quintet.
Hosted by the Fairmont Chamber Music Society, the quintet visited Fairmont for a Sunday performance after traveling hours away from their home base in Washington D.C.
Their performance marked the second of the Fairmont Chamber Music Society's 2023-24 season, with additional performances scheduled for February and May. According to Society President Brenda Giannis, the ensemble's visit marked a perfect end to an exciting slate of fall performances.
'They started out playing a reveille piece, "an impressionistic, early 1900s" arrangement that "was really beautiful," Giannis said. "Then they did some more contemporary [pieces], but everything was very interesting."
Throughout the performance, members of the ensemble spoke to the audience about each piece's composer and history, which helped attendees better understand the background of chamber music as a whole, Giannis said.
In 2009, the Georgetown Quintet was nominated for a Washington Area Music Award as Best Chamber Ensemble. The group has performed at venues across the region, from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts to the Black Rock Center of Germantown, Md.
Likewise, members of the ensemble carry storied professional histories, with individual artists having performed alongside the National Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, the Williamsburg Symphony, the National Philharmonic Orchestra and the late Ray Charles, an icon of the rhythm and blues genre.
The caliber of the ensemble's abilities and performance quality was on full display Sunday, Giannis said. Their Fairmont performance lasted an hour and a half, filled with educational opportunities and musical fun.
"They're all wonderful, classically trained musicians, and really, really good," she said. "They said the acoustics were wonderful, so you could really hear how well it resonated. It was very nice."
Sunday also marked the first time the quintet has performed through the Fairmont Chamber Music Society. Giannis said members of the organization's board select ensembles to perform each year, directly reaching out to groups like the Georgetown Quintet to inquire about their availability.
With state and donor funding, the group is able to bring together an impressive list of ensembles each year, she said.
While Sunday's performance marked the second and final performance for the Fairmont Chamber Music Society this fall, two additional performances on the horizon this spring give Giannis and other local chamber music lovers reason to be excited.
In February, a new group known as the Atlas String Quartet will visit Fairmont. The ensemble is based at Frostburg State University, and features the concertmaster of the U.S. Marine Band's White House Chamber Orchestra and a member of the National Symphony Orchestra.
Through the Fairmont Chamber Music Society, the quartet will also perform at North Marion High as part of an educational outreach program that aims to connect Marion County youth with chamber music performances.
To round out the season in May, early music group Les Délices will return to Fairmont by popular demand, following a previous performance for the Fairmont Chamber Music Society in 2014.
For the Fairmont Chamber Music Society, which is a volunteer-led nonprofit organization, seeing the community response to concerts like these makes their hard work meaningful, Giannis said.
"None of us get paid. We use all of our money that we get through our supporters and through our grants and all that for artists' fees," she explained.
For now, Giannis said she is looking forward to what the Fairmont Chamber Music Society has in store for this spring. "We're excited about that," she said.
Reach Jack Walker by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.