Tunes of the Teachers

It is always a treat for students to see exactly what their teachers are made of. This past Saturday, it was even better. On this special occasion, various past and present faculty of the Phillips Academy music department performed in a Chamber Music Concert for the community. The concert took place in the Timken Room and its performers included current faculty Vincent Monaco, Holly Barnes, William Thomas, Andrew Goodridge, Duncan Cumming, Margo McGowan, and Amy Goodman, and former teacher John Williams. The first piece, “Concerto in D” by Georg Philipp Telemann, featured Holly Barnes and John Williams playing the violin, William Thomas on the cello, Andrew Goodridge on the harpsichord and Vincent Monaco on the trumpet. In the first and second movements, Adagio and Allegro, the trumpet dominated, belting out the loud melody with quick precision. Only rarely did the trumpet stop to allow the violins to respond or the continuo to shine through. Monaco, who was hardly given any time to catch his breath in the first two sections, was allowed to rest in Grave, the third section, which contrasted the second movement’s fast, bouncy energy with a slower, sadder sound. Without the trumpet, the violins took their place as the center of the action. The violins seemed to weep as the continuo played somberly in the background. Overcome with the piece’s emotion, Thomas began to sway slowly, and Goodridge began to nod his head in time with the music. With the sad section over, the trumpet returned for the last movement, Allegro, an upbeat section which ended the piece on a high note. Following the success of “Concerto in D” was “Piano Trio in D minor” by Franz Joseph Haydn, played by John Williams on the violin, William Thomas on the cello, and Duncan Cumming on the piano. “Piano Trio in D minor” began with Molto Adagio, and an urgency that the first piece had lacked came through in the quickly rising and falling notes of the piano and cello. A brief reprieve came when Cumming began playing light carefree notes. However, the pressing nature of the first movement was continued in Adagio, the second section. Finale: Vivace, the third movement, ended the piece with more fast-moving notes. With its intensity and multiple pseudo-finales, it was the most exciting part of the concert, finally concluding the piece with a loud two-chord cadence. This piece was perfectly executed with a fitting amount of precision enforcing the piece’s tension. Margo McGowan on the clarinet, Amy Goodman and John Williams on the violins, Holly Barnes on the viola, and William Thomas on the cello made up the ensemble for “Quintet for Clarinet and Strings” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The first and second movements of this piece, Allegro and Larghetto, were very similar and moved along steadily as McGowan carefully shaped each note of the clarinet’s melody, letting each one melt into the next. Alternating between pressing and lighter moods, Menuetto, the third movement, featured less clarinet and more strings, and served as a perfect bridge into the last movement, Tema con Variazioni Allegro, which consisted of a montage of emotion. Traveling from light airy staccato notes to a quick urgency and finally into a sorrowful ending, the last movement showcased all the musicians’ talent and was a perfect finish to a wonderful concert. Overall, this was a spectacular concert, which reminded students of the amazing talent of their teachers, and the appreciation that they are due as performers.