Art | Events | Music

Chamber music is a hot ticket in Detroit

The stage sizzled last Saturday night. It was the opening of the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, in its 21st season, presenting artists of international fame playing music through the centuries. Backstage was quiet. The performers took the last few moments before walking onto stage to meditate, visualize, or breath; whatever helped them find their center. Anton Nel and James Tocco were up first.

Two world-class pianists. Anton, with a delightful, unflappable personality that could charm a prison guard, and James, the artistic leader and founder (and the musical genius behind the Festival) whose generous spirit radiates from stage and sets the tone for two weeks of unparalleled artistry. They played to an audience of over 500 people.

The evening progressed with a little bit of history being made on stage. This is Tocco’s final season as Artistic Director. The second work on the program featured Tocco (pianist) and his successor (cellist) Paul Watkins, in a thrilling performance of Brahms.

The final number showcased the Ariel Quartet playing a Beethoven work that most never hear performed live. The Ariel Quartet first played at the Festival at the ripe old age of 18. Now, a decade later, with a thriving career, they are featured artists of the Festival.

So, you missed the opening. No worries! Your best chance to check out this world-class Festival, founded right here in Metro Detroit, is coming up this Friday!

Check out this awesome venue to help you discover “chamber music” while also exploring Detroit:

N’Namdi Gallery – Friday, June 20 at 8:00 p.m.

Artists will include The Donald Sinta Quartet (a sax quartet), the PUBLIQuartet (a string quartet), and poet jessica Care moore (all pictured below).

And you won’t be the only young ones. These artists are all in their 20s and 30s. Likewise, the crowd, joined by members of Detroit Passport to the Arts, will be on the younger side. Everyone will enjoy cabaret-style seating surrounded by exquisite contemporary art.

The GLCMF's Apprentice Ensemble, and a product of the Sphinx organization.

The GLCMF’s Apprentice Ensemble, and a product of the Sphinx organization.

Donald Sinta Quartet small

The Donald Sinta Quartet


Poetry, performance

Here’s what I love about the Festival: 

1. I never tire of hearing artists at the very top of their game.

2. The people (artists, donors, ticket buyers; it feels like a family)

3.  Quite simply…the music.

Here’s what you would love about the Festival: 

1. The artists are approachable, friendly and accessible. You would pass them in the hallway, talk with them at intermission, and possibly see them at a bar afterwards.

2. The hip Detroit venue that offers a 2-for-1 cultural experience in one night.

3. Once again…the music.

See you this Friday at the N’Namdi Gallery. $15 tickets are available on our website:


Natalie Bruno
Natalie Bruno is the Director of Talent & Organizational Culture at Mango Languages, a business that enriches lives through language and culture, via cutting-edge language-learning software. Prior to this appointment, she was the Chief Operating Officer & Vice President for Development with Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings, Eisenhower Dance, and the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival. In 2009, she launched Detroit Passport to the Arts with a group of young professionals and was named one of Crain’s Detroit Business 2010 “40 Under 40” honorees for her work in attracting audiences to cultural organizations. A native of Chicago, Natalie has made Metro Detroit her home since 2003. She remains active on the board of Detroit Passport to the Arts, and also serves on the board of Challenge Detroit. Follow her @NatalieBruno11.