F-PLUS, a classical trio in nontraditional instrumentation, to play in eight concerts around Metro Detroit.
When violinist Kate Dreyfuss appears at Temple Beth El in one of many concerts scheduled for the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, she knows she will recall a unique musical experience highlighting her bat mitzvah celebration.
One of her religious classmates had been soprano Marisa Karchin, whose father, composer Louis Karchin, wrote a piece for the girls to present together during services and joined them at piano.
“That probably was the first piece I premiered, and getting to play contemporary music in a similar setting will be very meaningful,” says Dreyfuss, a member of the F-PLUS trio that includes clarinetist Andy Hudson and percussionist Josh Graham championing the works of today’s composers.
The trio will be part of eight concerts, among some 30, planned June 15-30 in different city and suburban venues as the festival spotlights award-winning musicians as well as emerging talents.
F-PLUS will be at Temple Beth El 10:45 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, June 21, as part of a program that includes pianist Alessio Bax, violinist Kimberly Kaloyanides Kennedy and cellist Paul Watkins, festival artistic director, with pieces by Beethoven, Marcello and Rachmaninov. A light luncheon after the concert will include a conversation with Paul Epstein, scholar and program notes annotator.
Temple Beth El joined with St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic Church and Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church in 1994 to launch this annual secular event administered by Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings.
“My trio will be performing as one of the Shouse Institute ensembles, which provides opportunities for young professional groups to work with festival artists and perform alongside our mentors,” says Dreyfuss, 27, who began studying violin when she was 3, took a break from scholarly music to get a bachelor’s degree in French literature from Princeton and returned to music, completing a master’s degree and working on doctoral requirements at Stony Brook University.
“This festival is a unique opportunity to spend a significant amount of time among musicians of such a high caliber,” she says. “Our group’s situation is unique because we’re a classical music ensemble in nontraditional instrumentation.”
F-PLUS instrumentalists, who met in 2016 at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, started out creating their own repertoire by asking composer friends to write music or adapt pre-existing works for their slightly different sound combinations. They went on to commission about 20 works by going to many concerts so they could listen to pieces by diverse composers.
“For the first time, we just ran a call for scores to discover music we might not know about otherwise,” Dreyfuss says. “We learned about work by composers from all over the world in a competition of submitted scores.
“We didn’t ask for composers to write pieces to submit. They submitted previous works, and the winner will write a new piece [to be performed and recorded]. We’re going to announce our winner June 15, once we get to Great Lakes.”
In applying for the Great Lakes Festival, F-PLUS submitted a list of pieces they loved to play and will be performing five of them. One existed before they started the ensemble, but the rest were either commissioned or adapted.
“There’s actually a work being written for us right now that we’re going to premiere at the festival,” says Dreyfuss, whose trio is making its Great Lakes premiere. “The piece is by Matthew Barnson, who teaches composition at Stony Brook.”
F-PLUS also is doing some combined pieces with other festival artists and other Shouse ensembles, ultimately performing about a dozen works over the two weeks.
Dreyfuss has widened her independent career by also playing solo and being a full-time member of Contemporaneous, a chamber orchestra of 22 musicians based in New York City. As a substitute in the chamber group ETHEL, she recently added her talents to string quartets by Julia Wolfe at the Jewish Museum in New York.
“I love all kinds of playing, but chamber music is the majority of what I do,” the violinist explains. “It’s the most rewarding because playing music with other people is a transcendent experience.
“I think every musician should play in as many different contexts as they possibly can because each kind of playing has its own challenges and inspiration.”
The trio, which has participated in concert and instructional programs at Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University, welcomes the opportunity to return to Michigan stages to join many people prominent in the chamber music circuit.
“Violinist Philip Seltzer is on the faculty at Stony Brook, where I have studied with him and worked on chamber music with him,” Dreyfuss says. “I’ve appeared with violinist Eugene Drucker at Stony Brook, and we’ll be on the same program at Great Lakes.
“I’ve never worked with Leila Josefowicz, but I have admired her for years. I’m excited about the pieces she will be playing because one is Stravinsky’s Concertante. I just performed this piece on one of my doctoral recitals and gave a lecture on it.
“I’m thrilled we get to open for her recital. She is a champion for new works for the violin, and she performs a lot of contemporary works as well as classical works. That’s something I aspire to do with my professional life.”
The Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival will be presented June 15-30 at various venues. For a complete schedule and pricing information, call (248) 559-2097 or visit