With bows moving in perfect synchronization, seven violinists, two cellists and two violists played as one during the Academy Chamber Music Society Concert last Saturday night. The musicians struck each note at the same, rapid speed, conveying the urgency of Peter Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir de Florence, Op. 70.”
Chamber music, classical music composed for small numbers of musicians, is performed by Andover’s chamber groups, which the Music Department formed at the beginning of the year after initial auditions. Each group has a faculty coach who helps them choose music and refine technical skills. Tchaikovsky’s string piece concluded this Saturday’s concert by the chamber groups. The concert featured a variety of instruments, ranging from the harpsichord duos to string and vocal ensembles.
Among the songs played in the concert was the first movement of “String Quartet” written by Germaine Tailleferre. The contemporary piece included two violins, one viola and one cello and began with a simple melody, injected with lively cello pizzicatos, notes in which the musician plucks the string rather than using a bow. This technique creates an even more complex rhythm. The piece also contained many overlapping melodies in which an instrument would play one melody, and another instrument would repeat the same melody with small alterations. Drones, notes that are continuously played throughout a song, as well as the continuation of a pizzicato beat on the cello provided a steady background.
Katherine Wang ’17, a violinist who performed “String Quartet” said, “I think the most interesting parts of the piece were when the first violin had the melody and the second violin accompanied, and vice versa. We had to listen closely to each other to make sure we were on the same beat. Thanks to the steady beat of the cello and the cues from the violins, we stayed together throughout the piece, and the performance went well.”
Following the “String Quartet” was the lively “Cantata, No. 160” by Johann Sebastian Bach. The Cantata, also titled “Ich weiss, dass mein Erlöser lebt” or “I know that my Redeemer lives,” not only featured a bassoonist, a violinist and a harpsichord but also included vocalist Tom Burnett ’15, who sang several runs and trills. His voice came in for small phrases during which the instruments would play a simpler rhythm at a hushed volume. After Burnett finished his last note in each section, the instrumentalists echoed his melody.
“Our Cantata was cool, because [it was written in a] different era. Another thing is that the harpsichord is almost never used in chamber music at all so having Sergio [De Iudicibus ’16] on harpsichord was pretty unique. And the third part was actually having a singer. The combination of the harpsichord, baroque music and the singer was what made it fun,” said Charles Stacy ’16, the violinist who performed the piece.
Another piece in the concert was “Sonata in C, KV 521,” composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. De Iudicibus performed this with Dr. Abbey Siegfried, Instructor in Music. Playing together on one harpsichord, the two musicians began in unison before splitting into parts.
The first part of “Sonata in C, KV 521” contained many long, but slightly detached, chords that created a thick and rich sound. The song then transitioned into a series of overlapping runs for a smooth and connected melody. The song ended similarly to the way it began, with De Iudicibus and Siegfried repeating the first melodic phrase several times before a series of fast and overlapping runs and chords closed the song.
“Most people think that [“Sonata in C, KV 521”] is supposed to be played on the piano, but it was actually written for the harpsichord and it sounds so much better. I chose to play the piece because it’s very fun. It’s so lively. When Dr. Siegfried and I have the unison scales, it’s really fun, and when you [play] together you have a sense of accomplishment,” said De Iudicibus.