‘Nothing but potential’: Athenaeum Chamber Concert Series in La Jolla will amplify local talent

Hidden Valley Virtuosi (violinist Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu, pianist Ines Irawati and cellist Tanya Tomkins) will perform Oct. 28.
Hidden Valley Virtuosi (violinist Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu, pianist Ines Irawati and cellist Tanya Tomkins) will perform Friday, Oct. 28, in the first show of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library’s 2022-23 Chamber Concert Series.
(Athenaeum Music & Arts Library)

The six performances of the 2022-23 season will begin Friday, Oct. 28.


Playing up its directors’ connections to the local music scene, the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla will launch the 2022-23 season of the Barbara and William Karatz Chamber Concert Series on Friday, Oct. 28.

The six-concert series in the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Music Room inside the Athenaeum will feature a variety of performers both familiar and new to the space. It’s programmed by married local musicians Alex Greenbaum and Kate Hatmaker.

All concerts will be preceded by a lecture by musicologist Nuvi Mehta and will be followed by a reception with the artists in the Sharon & Joel Labovitz Entry Hall.

Hatmaker said the concerts reflect “the breadth of our interests and musical tastes,” incorporating more contemporary music with the “traditional repertoire that the audiences have come to expect.”

Hatmaker, a violinist, said “chamber music has been a passion of mine for a long time.”

She has a master of music degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and arrived in San Diego in 2006 to play with the San Diego Symphony. A year later, she formed the nonprofit chamber music group Art of Elan to “showcase a lot of this local talent and partner with the multitude of really innovative arts and culture institutions [here],” she said.

One of the first chamber music concerts she attended in San Diego was at the Athenaeum.

“I just love the intimacy of the space,” along with “the caliber of artists that they brought through,” Hatmaker said. “It felt like something really, really unique and really, really special.”

Greenbaum, a cellist who moved to San Diego from New York in 2012, said the local variety of classical offerings is “really exciting.”

Greenbaum plays with the Hausmann Quartet, artists-in-residence at San Diego State University who curate, teach and program chamber music performances all over the region.

The Athenaeum series, he said, is a related endeavor that he’s enjoyed, especially since it’s afforded him and Hatmaker the chance to work together.

“We’re each sounding boards in our own separate projects, but this is one of the first times we’re really formally working as a team,” Greenbaum said.

Hatmaker said they were tapped to direct the Athenaeum’s Chamber Concert Series nearly a year ago and in recent months set about “carrying on the tradition of artistic excellence” of previous series director Christian Hertzog.

At the same time, the couple infused their own musical tastes, experiences and connections.

The 33rd edition of the series will feature longtime favorites like the Formosa Quartet and introduce artists to the Athenaeum, such as Agave Baroque and the Baumer Quartet, she said.

All the performers are connected in some way to Greenbaum, Hatmaker and San Diego, and the couple are looking to strengthen those local ties.

For example, Greenbaum said he and Hatmaker have known musicians Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu and Ines Irawati of Hidden Valley Virtuosi for a long time, and the group will perform in the series opener.

“We’ve collaborated with both of them as performers,” Greenbaum said.

Violinist Colin Jacobsen will perform with pianist Vicky Chow on Monday, Nov. 21, at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library.
(Erin Baiano)

Violinist Colin Jacobsen, who will play Monday, Nov. 21, performed with Greenbaum in The Knights Orchestra in New York. Greenbaum also has played with many of the members of Agave Baroque, who will perform Monday, Feb. 27.

All the series artists have played locally in recent years, Hatmaker said.

Planning the concerts was “a really organic-like stream of consciousness,” she said. “One thing led to another, which led to another, and a lot of it just has to do with these connections [and] wanting to connect these artists to San Diego in a deeper way.”

Hatmaker said she hopes the series will lead to an exploration of the ways the Athenaeum “can have a deeper impact in the community,” perhaps encouraging an intersection or a collaboration with its other series and locations.

“I think there could be a lot of interesting things in store,” she said. “There’s nothing but potential.”

“This series has existed for a long time already, and we’ve been admirers of it for pretty much the entire time we’ve been here in San Diego,” Greenbaum said. “We were really excited and honored to be given this opportunity.”

2022-23 Barbara and William Karatz Chamber Concert Series

When: Oct. 28 through April 15

Where: Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall St., La Jolla

Cost: $50 per concert for Athenaeum members and $55 for non-members; $270 for the series for Athenaeum members and $300 for non-members


7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28: Hidden Valley Virtuosi

7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21: Colin Jacobsen (violin) and Vicky Chow (piano)

7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5: Ilya Yakushev, piano

7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27: Agave Baroque and Reggie Mobley, countertenor

7:30 p.m. Friday, March 17: Formosa Quartet

7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 15: Baumer Quartet and Alex Greenbaum, cello