Times Staff Writer

The Nova chamber music concerts--which come to Orange County tonight--try to be user friendly.

"We don't just want to be stuffy, standing up there and being very formal," said pianist Annette Klover, who founded the series in 1983 in Long Beach.

"We provide an intimacy with our audience. Our music director speaks to the audience before the program, which makes for better comprehension and enjoyment. . . . We also have receptions where audience members are invited to talk with the musicians."

The series of six performances begins at 8 tonight in Salmon Recital Hall at Chapman College in Orange. A separateseries will take place in Long Beach.

"We tend to have something like a theme for each program," Klover said. "The program tonight at Chapman is called 'A French Influence' and will include repertory by Milhaud; Martinu, who studied and worked in Paris for three quarters of his life; Saint-Saens; Debussy, and John Biggs, who lives in Southern California but whose family is entirely of French background."

The Nova musicians include music director Michael Zearott, pianist Klover, clarinetist Al Rice, violinist David Stenske and cellist Howard Colf.

Zearott is a pianist, conductor and composer, active in the Southland. Rice is curator of the Fiske Museum of Musical Instruments at Bridges Auditorium at Pomona College in Claremont. Stenske is orchestra director at Citrus College in Azusa and teaches at Whittier College. Colf has been a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 1968.

Klover, who was born in Torrance, directs the Nova concerts on the administrative level and is an active piano teacher in the Long Beach area. She is also mother of a 2-month-old girl, Sabrina.

The concerts began in 1983 at a music store in Long Beach and were dedicated to her students, Klover said.

"We started out with lecture-recitals, and they became very popular," she said. "The next year, we moved into a bigger store, where we had more room to perform, brought in some of our friends and continued the series."

In 1986, the musicians decided the effort was stable and popular enough--they were drawing approximately 110 people to each event--that they became a nonprofit organization.

"Now we put on about 10 chamber concerts a year, approximately one a month," Klover said. "We chose the most representative work of the composer. That way people get a real picture of the style of the composer.

"We also enjoy playing in the schools. That's part of touring philosophy. We try to be educational, to get people to know about music, and playing in schools is great for that."

Klover said the series is moving to Orange County "to expand our audience."

Donn Laurence Mills, chairman of the music department at Chapman College, said: "I'm excited about the series. It brings quality chamber music to the area, which we don't have. Everyone of the performers is just splendid and their programs are interesting."

Dates and programs for the next two Nova concerts at Chapman College are:

--Nov. 10--"The German Tradition": Bach's Suite No. 3 in C for Cello Unaccompanied; Beethoven's Bagetelles, Opus 126, and Sonata in A for Cello and Piano, Opus 69.

--Dec. 1--"Heart-Wounds: Music of the Passions": Tchaikovsky's "Russian Folk Songs for Piano Four Hands"; Stravinsky's "Three Easy Pieces"; Hindemith's Sonata for Unaccompanied Cello; Copland's "El Salon Mexico," as transcribed for piano by Leonard Bernstein; Shostakovich's Sonata for Cello and Piano, Opus 40; and Zearott's "A Renaissance Dream, for Piano Four Hands" and "Madrugada for Cello and Piano."

Dates for the three spring concerts at Chapman College have not been set.

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