World-renowned Kammermusiker coming to Stillwater

Tickets going fast for September concert

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  • The New York Kammermusiker will be performing right in Sussex County

  • Proceeds from the concert will benefit restoration of "The Academy" the once school for Stillwater which is housed within the town's museum

By Laurie Gordon

— The New York Kammermusiker is no stranger to giving concerts in unusual places. The group has played in the highest concert hall in the world (La Paz, Bolivia, at over 12,000 feet), the lowest (Lanzarote, Canary Islands, in the cone of a volcano) and in climates from desert to tropical rainforest. Since 1969, Kammermusiker has made annual tours throughout the United States and Europe, and traveled nine times to South America, twice to the Far East, and to Australia and New Zealand.

And now the group, which performs double-reed classical music from all eras, is coming to Stillwater, a rare treat made possible by local resident Jim Ankrom, who composed a piece for the Kammermusiker.

“Ankrom is a member of the Historical Society of Stillwater Township and contacted us about a benefit concert,” said the society’s corresponding secretary, Stacey Harvey. “Ankrom had written a piece of music for the New York Kammermusiker, and in appreciation they offered to perform a concert to benefit an organization of his choice. Jim told the Historical Society that he and his family enjoyed our Fall Festival every year and wanted the society to benefit from this concert. We gladly accepted.

“We are so very grateful to be able to bring such accomplished musicians to Stillwater.”

The benefit concert couldn't be coming at a better time.

“During the process of having the academy (a part of the Historical Society’s Museum, which is located in the center of town) repainted, it was discovered that there are some stucco repairs that need to be made to the 176-year-old building. Proceeds of the concert will help with that needed-repair cost,” Harvey said.

The New York Kammermusiker travels around the world as an unofficial ambassador of ensemble music and Western musical culture. Its unique repertoire ranges from early Renaissance through contemporary periods, including many American works written especially for the group. Formed in 1969 by North Dakota native Ilonna Pederson, this nonprofit organization seeks to reintroduce the instruments and music of double-reed instruments to modern audiences.

“Their music captivates and compels, and we are so excited to share their glory with our area at this concert,” said Deborah Drumm, president of The Historical Society of Stillwater.

In the Baroque age, many composers—such as J.S. Bach in the Christmas Oratorio and other works, and Handel (himself an oboist)—wrote for double-reed instruments. Composers including Mozart and Beethoven wrote for double-reed ensembles throughout the Classical period. During the Romantic period, the double-reed band dropped into oblivion, to be revived by the efforts of the musicologist Josef Marx of New York, oboists Hans Hadamowsky and Jurg Schaeftlein of Vienna, and Pederson, director of The New York Kammermusiker.

“Our group prepares modern scores from long-neglected musical manuscripts they seek out in their travels in order to bring the music of the medieval shawm [a musical instrument] bands to modern listeners,” said Pederson. “The sound is full and resonant, as if a much larger group were playing. The ensemble offers flawless performances in a lively, interactive manner, giving historical and cultural context to the music that is both educational and entertaining. The music and its history come alive.”

The New York Kammermusiker draws from some of the world’s finest musicians for its performances. Members have included musicians from the New York Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Munich Bach Orchestra, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, and the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra.

Pederson added, “All ages love this group, and we cater to any and all audiences. Every generation has its own style of popular music. However, our music appeals to all generations.”

The Kammermusiker will perform at 7 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Stillwater Township School, 904 Stillwater Road. Doors will open at 6 pm.

Tickets are $25 and all proceeds benefit the Historical Society of Stillwater. To purchase tickets visit or call 973-300-3327. There is a link on the society’s website to order tickets via PayPal. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door.

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