On Chess: Music and chess harmonize at Hall of Fame

Apr 21, 2016

Chess and music are topics that intertwine frequently at the World Chess Hall of Fame.

Through exhibits such as Living Like Kings, visitors learned about how the birth of hip-hop coincided with a surge of interest in chess among Americans. In Cage & Kaino: Pieces and Performances, revolutionary 20th-century composer John Cage and contemporary conceptual artist Glenn Kaino produced works that highlight the sense of community created by chess, especially when interwoven with music and art.

In February 2014, the 442s brought music at the World Chess Hall of Fame to a new level. On the fourth Wednesday of each month since then, the World Chess Hall of Fame presents the appropriately-titled Monthly Music Series concerts.

These performances feature both local and national musicians from art-centric organizations as well as touring ensembles with a focus on jazz, classical, folk, bluegrass, gospel, Americana and world music. This month on April 27, the 442s will be back for their third performance since the beginning of the series.

These concerts have been so successful that the World Chess Hall of Fame has decided to expand its musical offerings and announce a new series of concerts: the Composer Spotlight Series.

This music series will feature members of the St. Louis Symphony and will focus on various composers from the past 400 years. This past March, the inaugural Composer Spotlight Series featured works by Johannes Brahms and brought in 63 music-loving visitors to the Hall of Fame.

The second concert in this series will take place May 12, from 7-8 p.m. and will highlight works by Czech baroque composer Jan Zelenka. The concert will feature St. Louis Symphony musicians Phil Ross (oboe) and Andrew Gott (bassoon), performing with Director of the Kingsbury Ensemble Maryse Carlin (harpsichord).

Composer Spotlight Series
Credit Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The Composer Spotlight Series attracts previous concert-goers and current World Chess Hall of Fame members as well as new faces at each event. By combining the rotating exhibits at the World Chess Hall of Fame with the musical events, we are finding connections between chess and the arts more frequently. Upcoming concerts in the fall of 2016 will feature more composers that will be highlighted at Powell Hall during the St. Louis Symphony season.

If these aren’t enough, we are offering an additional opportunity featuring original compositions inspired by the game of chess. The Sound of Chess will be a performance by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble and takes place Saturday, April 30.

For more information about both previous and upcoming concerts at the World Chess Hall of Fame, visit www.worldchesshof.org/musicseries.

Marc Thayer is music director for the World Chess Hall of Fame as well as a board member and deputy director for American Voices. The On Chess articles are provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.