As first violinist and concertmaster for The Florida Orchestra, Jeffrey Multer makes a home in the bay area every year between September and May. Like most similarly-employed classical musicians, he’ll use his off days to book a flight and perform as a soloist, or in an ensemble, elsewhere in the country, or the world. For his summertime gig, he’s artistic director of chamber music, and head of the violin faculty, at North Carolina’s Eastern Music Festival.
Sometimes, during the TFO season, he just stays home. As artistic director of the Palladium Chamber Players, Multer – who was a member of two of New York’s most acclaimed chamber groups, the Oxford Quartet and Elements Quartet – presents a limited series (five or six concerts each season) at the Palladium Theater in St. Pete.
“Chamber music,” Multer says, “was my life before the orchestra. It’s what I did full-time. So for me, it’s like returning to my roots. And playing with great colleagues that I worked with in New York for years. Bringing them here, and getting to share them with Florida audiences, is really exciting for me.”
The quartet performing tonight (March 6) at the Palladium includes Multer on violin, with Danielle Farina, viola; Julian Schwarz, cello; and Jeewon Park, piano.
Tonight’s program includes Mozart’s Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major K. 493, Dohnányi’s Serenade for violin, viola and cello Op. 10 and Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in c minor Op. 15.
Each concert in the series is designed to showcase exquisitely-crafted music from a small, hand-picked ensemble. “The point of that is that we feature players who are from out of town, who our audiences don’t get to hear on a daily basis,” he explains. “These are world-class chamber musicians; that’s what they do for a living. They don’t play in orchestras. I’m the only person who is a full-time orchestra member.”
Between the concert halls and the reception halls, the festival dates and the recording studios, there are plenty of gigs for world-class musicians, no matter their home base.
Traveling comes with the territory, Multer says.
“Everybody travels in this business. Especially if you play chamber music and you’re in New York – of course you play some concerts in New York, but you play the majority of your concerts out of town. Because everybody wants to play in New York, and everybody does play in New York. And so there’s only so many opportunities there – as many venues as there are, it’s still very limited.”
He dreamed up the Palladium Chamber Players, he explains, after he began working with The Florida Orchestra in 2006. “People began to pester me to bring chamber music here. From my previous life. So I tried, and it worked out great.”
Although the lineup is different for every concert, Multer points out, “We have a group of seven or eight core artists that are pretty regular, because those are the people that I’m used to playing with. And we like playing together. And we can put together programs quickly and effectively.”