I had already purchased season tickets to the Asheville Chamber Music Series before I even moved to Western North Carolina in 2000. Someone told me I should not miss this five-concert series, held in the sanctuary of the Asheville Unitarian Universalist Church. He said that these concerts provide the most consistently satisfying classical music in Asheville.

Having recently attended the final concert of the 2010-2011 season, I can now confirm that he was right. In eleven years, there have been few mediocre recitals and none that were downright poor. The worst that I can recall was a Russian string quartet that shall go nameless. That group spent so much time tuning before every piece (and frequently between movements) that I began to fidget, wondering if they would ever get it right.

Each season had its highlights, including memorable concerts by Red Priest, the Pacifica Quartet and the Paris Trio (a piano trio from the Conservatoire de Paris). The Beaux Arts Trio was here in April 2008 during its 49th and final season led by pianist Menahem Pressler. The Ying Quartet sparkled in several visits, always taking time to visit local schools to promote chamber music among young people.

The March 25 concert was another highlight. The Miró Quartet was here, with first violinist Daniel Ching, violist John Largess, cellist Joshua Gindele and newly arrived second violinist Tereza Stanislav. Their chosen program began with Franz Schubert’s one-movement “Quartettsatz” in C minor, D.703, followed by Phillip Glass’s 1991 Quartet No. 5. After intermission, Johannes Brahms’ Quartet in C minor, Op. 51/1, concluded the program. The Miró Quartet has reached its full potential and is now that marvel of chamber music: a four-bodied performer that seems to have but one head. They think alike, sense the audience alike, and send neural signals to their arms and hands with an amazing synchronicity.

The sponsoring organization’s board of directors is clearly dedicated to the highest musical quality. They have recently raised over $31,000 toward their $50,000 goal to purchase a seven-foot Steinway, so that visiting ensembles that include piano can demonstrate their full potential.

The 2011-12 season has been announced. It will include the Calder Quartet, the Alexander String Quartet and a return engagement for the Pacifica Quartet. The New York Chamber Soloists will be here next January and the series will begin October 21 with Ani Kavafian (violin), AndréMichel Schub (piano) and David Shifrin (clarinet). Having heard each of these musicians as a concerto soloist but never as a trio, I look forward to that program and indeed all the future programs. Bravo Asheville Chamber Music Series!