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Chamber Hanukkah concert features a wedding gift

This time of year, the sun sets an hour or so before 5:30 p.m. So the candle for the fifth night of Hanukkah will already be lit at the start of the American Chamber Ensemble's concert Sunday evening.

Is that what makes it a Hanukkah concert? Naomi Drucker, co-director of the chamber group for 45 years with pianist Blanche Abram, says with a laugh, "It's a marketing tool, really." Then she adds, more seriously, "We're doing the concert in the middle of the Hanukkah period and the music is all by Jewish composers" - George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Lukas Foss, Jacob Weinberg, Boris Levenson, Ernest Bloch and Gregor Fitelberg.

A CLARINET COUPLE This is the second annual seasonal concert for the resident ensemble of Hofstra University. "We drew an overflow crowd last year," recalls Drucker, whose husband and fellow clarinetist will be guest soloist. Stanley Drucker, a New York Philharmonic musician for 60 years before his 2009 retirement, has been making frequent guest appearances on Long Island lately. (The couple make their home in Massapequa.)

"Stanley's always done programs like this," his wife says, "both here and around the world. It's just that he has more time for them now."

PREVIOUSLY OWNED? Sunday's concert takes place in an unusual but suitably musical venue - the Steinway Piano Gallery in Melville - now known officially as the Steinway Used Piano Gallery. "Why couldn't they have at least made it the Formerly Owned Gallery?" Naomi Drucker suggests with another laugh. "It's a nice place to play," she says of the salon-style concert space off the piano showroom - seating about 80 - with a small stage for the players. The program features the Druckers and Abram playing alongside pianist Marilyn Lehman, violinist Eriko Sato, cellist Chris Finckel and soprano Karen Lehman.

Stanley Drucker will play the Bernstein Sonata. Together, the husband-and-wife clarinetists will perform Weinberg's "Dance and Song," a piece with significant meaning for the couple. "Jacob wrote that for us," says Naomi Drucker. "It was a wedding gift."


WHAT American Chamber Ensemble's Hanukkah concert


WHEN | WHERE 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Steinway Piano Gallery, 505 Walt Whitman Rd., Melville


INFO $20; usedpianogallery.com, 631-424-0525

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