Classical musicians with institutional affiliations enjoy playing the occasional independent gig. That'll be the case for violinist Jonathan Carney and pianist Jeffrey Sharkey, who perform a duo recital for the Sundays at Three series on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 3 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia.
Carney has been the concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 2002 and Sharkey has been director of the Peabody Institute since 2006.
They're both familiar with Howard County's Sundays at Three series, which has drawn many of its performers from their respective institutions.
"The Sundays at Three series seems to have a wonderful balance of performers. I like the way it provides an outlet for many chamber musicians, including members of the Baltimore Symphony and Peabody Institute," Sharkey notes.
As the director of Peabody, which has 650 students in its Conservatory and around 2,000 students in its Preparatory division, Sharkey has a time-consuming administrative job that does not leave him much time to step away from his desk and onto a concert stage.
"I try to play several concerts a year. It is not as much as I would like to do, but the demands of the position don't allow me to play more," Sharkey says.
The institutional situation is quite different for BSO concertmaster Carney, whose position means he is prominently seated at the front of stages throughout the year. For him, the Sundays at Three series is an opportunity to perform away from the full orchestra and in a chamber music setting.
"I have performed once in recital in this series three years ago," Carney recalls. "This is a well-established, beautifully run series that features some wonderful artists. (Sundays at Three artistic director) Ronald Mutchnik is a good friend and colleague who has a terrific amount of energy and vision for this series."
Having performed together before, Sharkey and Carney are sure to have a comfortable rapport at this Sunday's concert.
"Jonathan Carney and I performed several times together in the past," Sharkey says. "We've done several chamber concerts, and performed the Beethoven Triple Concerto — along with cellist Amit Peled — with the Baltimore Symphony. This is our first duo recital."
They're also certain to feel at ease with the program they have put together for this concert: the Mozart Sonata in G minor; Beethoven Sonata No. 7 in C minor, Op. 30; and Brahms Sonata in G major, Op. 78.
"We wanted to play three of our favorite sonatas together," Sharkey explains. "The Mozart is the most intimate — a short but exquisite two-movement work. The Beethoven is in his middle period and full of powerful statements. The Brahms is one of the warmest and most beautiful of the violin and piano sonatas."
"These are three of my most absolutely favorite works written by three of the greatest composers for the violin and piano combination," Carney says.
The upcoming concert won't be Carney's only Howard County event this weekend. Carney, who plays a 1687 Stradivarius, leads a Jan. 5 violin master class for Howard County students at the studio of Mutchnik.
"I am passionate about my work with young musicians and love doing master classes," Carney observes. "I love hearing students from some of our area's best teachers as it gives me so many ideas on how to better my own teaching with my students."
Jonathan Carney and Jeffrey Sharkey perform on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 3 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, 6800 Oakland Mills Road in Columbia. Tickets are $10- $15; children 17 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Call 443-288-3179 or go to http://www.sundaysatthree.org.