Frankly Music’s free-range chamber programs

Kirstin Margit Roble, Contributing Writer

It’s that time of the year again: The leaves are beginning to change and the cold mornings are upon us. This change augers a new start in the Milwaukee arts community, including the 13th season of Milwaukee-based chamber music group Frankly Music.

“We’re very fortunate to still be going and able to perform such a wide variety of repertoire,” said artistic director Frank Almond in a recent interview.

FM’s season will feature four concerts exploring a wide range of musical styles. The series kicks off Sept. 26 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (914 E. Knapp St., Milwaukee).

“Our first concert is a unique pairing, as it places works by Josef Haydn and Johannes Brahms with the lesser known composer Max Reger,” Almond said. “We’ve never had the opportunity to perform a work by Reger before, so this is incredibly exciting.”

German composer Max Reger (1873–1916) lived during the latter years of Brahms’ life. He composed extensively, but very few of his works have found their way into the standard repertory.

On Nov. 21, Almond and a trio of other musicians join classical guitarist Rene Izquierdo for Guitar Center, also at St. Paul’s. “Rene and I have been planning this for the past eight years,” Almond said. “We finally decided that we needed to make this happen.”

The concert includes pieces by Nicolai Paganini, Astor Piazzola, and Castelnuovo Tedesco, as well as a series of solo guitar works.

The second half of the season takes place at Wisconsin Lutheran College’s Schwan Concert Hall (8815 W. Wisconsin Ave., Wauwatosa).

On Jan. 23, Frankly Music will present a large ensemble concert featuring several members of the MSO. The concert includes a number of well-known chamber works in its first half, while the second half is given over to Mozart’s Divertimento in B flat for two horns and strings. The Divertimento should be a not-to-be-missed performance. It’s a work that rarely gets performed because of the difficulty and also the instrumental requirement — two horns and a larger chamber ensemble,” Almond said.

The season will wrap up with Czech it Out on May 15. The concert features chamber music duets and trios from Czech composers Bohuslav Martin, Leos Janáček, and Antonin Dvorák.

Says Almond: “Putting together a season is like a big jigsaw puzzle. There are so many factors that play in planning. Looking at the program and which works fit into a space is a decision maker. Also, who’s available factors in. It can be tricky to coordinate all of it each year.”

Still, even with the hurdles of planning a season, Almond counts himself pleased with the impact that Frankly Music has made in Milwaukee over the last 13 years. “We’re lucky to have been able to present a lot of music that isn’t often heard — and not have to repeat it regularly in a cycle,” Almond said. “We’re also lucky to have the caliber of musicians we have performing. We’ve featured up-and-coming musicians as well as established professionals in the field. It’s pretty amazing.”

Tickets for the season’s concerts are available on franklymusic.org. All concerts are at 7 p.m.