Ann Murray and the International Music Foundation of Chicago are quite selective about whom they invite to perform. That’s probably why the free weekly Dame Myra Hess Concerts in the beautiful Preston Bradley Hall of the Chicago Cultural Center with WFMT simulcasts never disappoint. The performers are all rising stars whose shine, reputation and lists of awards and professional milestones already proceed them.
In that respect clarinetist Samuel Marques’ March 18, 2015 Dame Myra Hess performance was no exception. Ann Murray commented, “He was absolutely terrific and clearly is a gifted musician.”
Marques had selected a program that included a staple of the clarinet chamber repertoire, Poulenc’s “Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in B-flat, FP 184” after an opener of Delmas’ “Fantaisie Italienne for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 110” and then closing with Muczynski’s “Time Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 43”.
Murray notes that Muczyski’s work has an added Chicago connection because the composer studied at and received his musical degrees from DePaul University.
Although young Marques has already had career peaks such as accompanying opera great Joyce DiDonato at her recent album release party—
if you get a chance to talk with Marques you will soon learn that its not his rapid rise in the music world that distinguishes him, but rather his deep-felt sense that he is first and foremost what one would call “a regular guy”.
Marques says, “I’m not from a musical family. I didn’t grow up with classical music playing in the house. I’m the first musician in my family. There was a wind band in my hometown in Portugal, which I joined when I was five, and started playing the clarinet soon after.
“This is what started my musical career but my decision to become a professional musician came much later. In High School I was also taking science courses and even when I went to college I had my doubts about making music my career as I had so many interests. But my teachers said I had talent and should go with music and that’s how I ended up getting my bachelor’s degree in music. It wasn’t an early decision for me.
“This probably makes me different from other musicians that have performed at the Dame Myra Hess concerts. Because I didn’t mean to be a musician at the start I was able to experience other things. Once you get started in the music world you get so focused on it—rehearsing and performing. Because I was able to have a regular life before becoming a musician, I’ve been able to make many friends who aren’t musicians, as well as being friends with musicians.”
Marques concludes, “Musicians are really focused and sometimes they don’t see much else beside the music world. I think other people are more down to earth and aware of everything around them. The classical music world can be a bubble and self-centered. We spend all day practicing in a room or in rehearsals and performances. We don’t interact as much and this makes it a self-centered world.”
In fact it’s not so much the music world that turns out to be shaping Marques’ next step in life but his family ties. In May he will return to Portugal, making the recent Dame Myra Hess performance one of his last in the US for some time. Marques says “I miss everything there—my family, all my friends, the weather, the food, the people. Also, Portugal belongs to Europe and it is easy to travel through Europe, which I very much want to do.”
With his pending move it may well be that this recent concert was the last time that Chicagoans get to hear Marques perform. Then again, in a brief exchange regarding his visit to Chicago Marques sounded quite moved by the beauty of the city. Perhaps this bodes well for some future return.
You can see world class talents such as Samuel Marques every Wednesday at 12:15 PM in Preston Bradley Hall of the Chicago Cultural Center. These concerts are free, approximately 45 minutes long and simulcast on WFMT.
Chicago Cultural Center
78 East Washington Street
Photos courtesy of Samuel Marques