Chamber music offers emotion


“Chamber music teaches you a new way to communicate with other musicians.”

This is how junior Alyssa Williams, part of the horn quartet, described the repertoire for upcoming chamber music recital.

A chamber music recital has no conductor, leaving musicians to rely on each other for visual and musical cues. Williams added: “You’re communicating those things through body movements, eye contact or even the sound of another’s breath. Everyone in the chamber group must contribute equally to keep the musical conversation going throughout the group since all parts are exposed.” She added that it is a bonding experience for the musicians.

Sophomore Ashley Baisch, playing the viola for the last string ensemble performance, seconded the idea of building communication skills. “There must be a constant silent communication between players in a chamber ensemble, so that the group stays together. This is a skill that is difficult to develop, and it is an aspect of my musical performance that I am still working on,” she said.

With pieces ranging from the Classical period to 2008, the change in composition styles and musical timbres will be sure to offer a variety of emotions and characteristics, according to Adjunct Faculty of Music Tyler Ogilvie. Ogilvie, who coached the horn quartet that will be performing in the recital, said that the blend of different styles and time periods was a coincidence. “I chose a contemporary piece for the French horn quartet. I had performed it before myself and knew it would present challenges for the students,” he said.

The horn quartet will be the second performance in the recital with Horn Quartet No. 1 by American composer Anthony Plog.

“The Plog Horn Quartet is a modern, high-energy piece for horn quartet that will definitely wake you up and keep you on the edge of your chair,” Williams said.

German composer Ludwig van Beethoven’s Trio in B-flat major, Op. 11 will be the first piece performed in the recital, by the piano, clarinet and cello trio. Adjunct Faculty of Music Andrew Rammon, the coach for both string ensembles, said the unique instrumentation of the piece makes it interesting. “It’s one of the earliest chamber music pieces. It was when Beethoven was first trying to dazzle the audience as a performer and composer,” he said.

The last performance of the recital by a two violin, viola and cello quartet was described by Rammon as “sometimes emotionally taxing to work on.” The piece, String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110 by Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich, is dedicated to the victims of fascism during World War II.

“It sounds like Nazis are knocking on doors and [the piece] can get very violent and scary at times. It’s quiet and reflective at others,” he said.

Baisch said, “I hope the audience will capture the mood Shostakovich was aiming for.”

Rammon said: “In Classical music it is important to try to become an active listener. That means you need to go in with an open mind, and I feel like the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.”