Cellist Harry Clark and his pianist wife, Sanda Schuldmann, are ending Chamber Music Plus, their 35-year-old innovative music series that combined theater with classical music.
In a letter sent to subscribers Tuesday, Clark said the couple came to the decision gradually over the summer.
“It is not with a heavy heart or regret that I write you this but with a renewed sense of delight about the art itself,” Clark wrote, saying he and Schuldmann want a chance to “recharge our batteries.”
“Sanda and I have every plan to be connected to this community and are excited to see what develops,” he said.
The move follows what Clark considers CMP’s finest season last year. The pair hosted sold-out performances of Clark’s new piece “Chancing Cage: Seeking Silence, A Play in Two Acts and Six Operations,” commemorating John Cage’s 100th birthday; and the world-premiere of Clark’s newest work, “Passionately, Piazzolla.” CMP performed the work with Ballet Tucson as part of the inaugural Tucson Desert Song Festival.
“It just seemed the right time. One thing I didn’t not want to do is repeat myself or start boring myself,” Clark said. “I think we went out on a high note. I loved last season.”
Clark said he and Schuldmann will continue performing as the Clark Schuldmann Duo.
The pair launched Chamber Music Plus in Hartford, Conn., 35 years ago. Nine years ago, they brought the series to Tucson, Clark’s hometown. They also produced the series in Scottsdale for seven years.
Clark was quick to clarify that the couple’s decision had nothing to do with their recent health scares. Schuldmann suffered a stroke a few years ago and Clark has battled skin cancer in recent years, including a bout in 2011 that led to canceling CMP’s 2011-12 season.
The hallmark of Chamber Music Plus was the historical monologues penned by Clark about famous musical figures, mostly composers. He and Schuldmann performed the music of the central character while renowned actors — Richard Moll, Talia Shire, Margot Kidder, Jasmine Guy, Sharon Gless and Jill Clayburgh — did dramatic readings from Clark’s well-crafted scripts.
In spring 2011, noted pianist André Watts teamed up with actor Michael York for Clark’s “Lisztian Loves,” which the pair performed that summer at the venerable Ravinia Festival in Chicago.
In January, Michael Learned and Richard Thomas played love interests in Clark’s “Confidentially, Chaikovski.” It was the first time the pair had shared a stage since they played Ma and John-Boy Walton in the 1970s TV series “The Waltons.”