The musicians and their Hubley hosts [L-R: Eileen Walsh, Jack Chen, Theodora and Tom Musial (hosts), Mark Lee, Kerry Kavalo, Shimon Walt, and Isabelle Fournier]

Apparently we’re only having one Friday the 13th this year, but it was definitely my lucky night attending my first Inner Space concert last week with musical friends Eileen Walsh, Isabelle Fournier, Mark Lee, Kerry Kavalo and Shimon Walt in a different kind of concert hall.   The Inner Space concerts are the brilliant brainchild of flutist and musical matchmaker Jack Chen. His job: to match great repertoire and great musicians with a private home.

The season’s concerts ranged from the Trout Quintet on Edward Street to a Mystery Concert on Inglis Street to Friday night’s Three Clarinet Quintets, hosted by Tom and Theodora Musial in Hubley.

If a clarinet player could choose her dream repertoire, it would be the three chamber pieces that Eileen Walsh played with her string colleagues – Mozart, Brahms and Weber. Not full readings of any of them, but all the glorious bits. About 40 people packed the Hubley house – which sounded like it was made for concerts – and they loved it. The clarinet sounded warm and full in this inner space, and was warmly matched by the string players, with Isabelle Fournier and Mark Lee trading chairs on first violin.

All the musicians gave it their passionate best, but it was Eileen’s night, her clarinet giving great glory to the first two movements of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet and a movement of the Brahms Quintet (which Viola player Kerry Kavalo compared to “being in a tub of chocolate”). The musicians tossed musical lines back and forth like witticisms, and then followed with the Rondo movement of the Weber Clarinet Quintet (love its Humpty Dumpty opening!). Virtuosic playing all around, and a standing O from the happy Inner Spacers.

After the music, there was wine and a delectable repast and the chance to mix and mingle with the musicians. Those in attendance included amateur musicians, classical music fans and Nova Scotians brought along by a friend or spouse looking for a relaxing evening out. One teenage girl told violinist Mark Lee “you’re really really good. This is not the kind of music I usually listen to, but it was great!”

Inner Space demystifies the concert hall experience and encourages careful listening followed by warm hospitality and great conversations. True chamber music. Over just a couple of seasons, over 400 people have attended Inner Space’s concerts to date.

But you don’t have to wait until the next Friday the 13th: the September-June series expands to six concerts in the fall and the schedule is posted here: Jack and his Inner Space Concerts will introduce nine “new” musicians to audiences and bring back some favorite players too.

The Hubley home overlooks a lake, and through the open garden room doors the natural world must have been hearing the music too– one wonders if the ducks, loons and other creatures were sighing in satisfaction as we were, with Mozart, Brahms and Weber serenading our brains to sleep.

So, if your idea of a good time is hanging with some great musicians in your living room, give Jack Chen a call.

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