Interview with Martha Dudgeon, Artistic Director of Austin Chamber Ensemble

Novelist and Poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe described chamber music as “four rational people conversing.” Wikipedia informed me that playing chamber music requires special skills, both musical and social, which are different from the skills required for playing solo or symphonic works. Pieces are written for a small group of instruments and traditionally performed in a private salon or-back when men donned powdered wigs- palace chambers.

And now we introduce Martha (Marti) Dudgeon, Artistic Director for the Austin Chamber Ensemble. She talks to us about ACE’s October performances and what audiences can expect this season. Her friendliness and graciousness came through even in the brief interview we had—good social skills indeed!

Next Spring, the Chamber Ensemble will start its season with “French Fried Brass” on March 23 and 24. In May, they will perform “Best of Moonstruck,” featuring a set of Dick Hyman’s work from “Moonstruck.” Keep an eye out for those performances in Spring 2012.

What can the Austin Chamber Ensemble concertgoer expect this season?

They can expect to hear a variety of musical styles, instrumentation, and composers. In addition, the concerts will take place is various venues around Austin:  private homes in Northwest Austin and Hyde Park, Cobra Studios on the East Side, and Westlake United Methodist Church. Venues other than the church will have limited seating, so early on-line purchase of tickets at are highly suggested.

What inspired the selections for your October performances?

Those selections were chosen by the string quartet (Artisan Quartet) members, but the string quartet was chosen by ACE to represent that genre of instrumentation.  The Artisan Quartet is preparing for their Weill Recital Hall – Carnegie Hall debut in March 2012. They will most likely be performing at least one of the selections you’ll hear in Austin in New York City. We are delighted to have them open the 31st season for us and we’re pleased to provide an opportunity to hear them perform in a small, intimate setting.

The other concerts in October were inspired to continue on with our ‘Best of’ celebration of ACE’s 30th and 31st season. This time the ‘Best of’ is of a birthday of composer P.D.Q. Bach (a.k.a. Peter Schickele) who turned 80 this year.

What is your history with the Austin Chamber Ensemble as artistic director?

Martha MacDonald had acted as artistic director in addition to being executive director for many years.  She felt it was time to turn the job over to someone else. My first season to perform with ACE was 2004-2005. I was appointed Artistic Director March 2008. Martha commented about the recent appointment, “I felt Marti had musical connections with many Austin artists as well as creative programming ideas.  In addition, she is very organized and works well with the media.” ACE has been favored to appear in Best Bets and reviewed in The Statesman, concert listings in The Chronicle and other neighborhood newspapers, radio appearances on KMFA 89.5 FM, and now a feature with Austin Creative Alliance. We thank the press for their continued support.

ACE definitely has a rich history in Austin. What has made Austin and its residents a great audience and engaged community throughout the years?

Although beginning as a wind quintet in 1980, ACE quickly branched out into including all genres of instrumentation, including voices.  It was the first Austin chamber organization to organize and present a formal concert series in 1985.  This immediately caused other chamber groups to do the same, branching out into the rich musical scene we now have.

We have also participated in an exchange program with artists from Germany, Belgium and France. In addition, ACE has commissions from composers such as Donald Grantham, Kathryn Mishell, Noel Alford, P. Kellach Waddle, and others. We’ve also received community support from businesses such as the collaboration with Belgian Restaurant for 10 years and Amy’s Ice Cream (for our Preludes and Cream concerts). We’re looking for business sponsors for this season too!

ACE has also participated in offering ‘free’ concerts to the community. We have performed at Zilker Garden Party and, most recently, for the Thursday Noonday Concert Series at Central Presbyterian Church featuring June Julian, soprano, and Marti Mortensen Dudgeon, piano.  We are performing ‘I Want Magic’ from A Streetcar Named Desire by Andre Previn. Below is the link:

Thank you for time, Marti!

Visit or for more information about the ACE’s upcoming performances in March and May 2012. Reservations can be made by calling 345-3399.

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About nowplayingaustin

The Austin Creative Alliance is a nonprofit performing arts service organization working to cultivate an environment where the performing arts can grow and flourish. We serve over 130 arts organizations with marketing, ticketing, audience development services; AEA paymaster, information & referral services — plus access to affordable health, liability, and event insurance. We also provide online professional development seminars, fiscal sponsorship services for emerging arts groups, host annual unified general auditions, annual theatre industry awards, and consistently advocate for the many benefits the arts bring to our quality of life.

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