Chamber Music Society Concert Showcases Small Group Talent

Clarinetist Jason Huang ’21 and pianist Samson Zhang ’20 were one of 13 groups to perform at the Academy Chamber Music Society Concert on Saturday.

Sharp, frantic bursts of clarinet notes silenced the room as Jason Huang ’21 erratically changed the pitch and volume of the notes from his clarinet. Abrupt piano chords soon began to accompany Huang, adding a new layer of eeriness to the overall tone of the piece.

“Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, FP 184” by Francis Poulenc was played by Huang and pianist Samson Zhang ’20 at the Academy Chamber Music Society Concert last Saturday in the Timken Room. In total, 13 groups performed, varying in size from duets to sextets. According to coordinator Holly Barnes, Instructor in Music, chamber music is an important way for musicians to improve their skills through teamwork.

“[Our piece] is very modern, because it does not follow the classical chord progression guidelines, and the scores pull quite a lot of jazz and elements into it. The clarinet part is very challenging, as it covers almost a whole clarinet range, and it is fast and very changeable at all times. The piano is of course also very difficult as it has a lot of weird chords. It’s very erratic, spooky, and mysterious, ” said Huang.

Barnes added, “When you’re playing in a small group, every individual can be heard, and there’s this give and take where you have to constantly be giving and taking with each other, being flexible in the rhythm and making room for your peers. So it’s this very sort of nuanced relationship, and to me, chamber music is the greatest way to make music.”

This term’s chamber society included the addition of several Juniors. The program takes students of all skill levels, from the least experienced to the most advanced. As an experienced player, Huang felt that chamber music was a great opportunity for him to help introduce the new Juniors to both music and life at Andover.

“I am experienced in Andover and chamber music, so I was able to provide them with ideas about how the piece should go, and also how I can help them go around Andover. For example, [I would] tell them to come to [Graves Hall or tell them] where Graves was located…So it’s interesting to see how they accommodated to Andover life very quickly, and I’m very glad that I had the chance to help,” said Huang.

Another chamber group consisted of Carolina Weatherall ’21, Emily Cain ’23, Laura Mahaniah ’20, Ben Rowland ’22, and Issac Hershenson ’20. The quintet played all three movements of “Concerto in C, RV 425” by Antonio Vivaldi. According to Rowland, the dynamic of their group improved over the term due to the help of their coach, Peter Lorenco, Instructor in Music.

“It started off a little tentative in the group. At first, everything is a little bit off, and it’s not quite together… One of the exercises [we did] was that Mr. Lorenco would speed up and slow down the tempo and we would have to follow him, and that was making sure that we’re really listening to other people and him… This [exercise] was really helpful in managing our tempo and staying in tune,” said Rowland.

According to audience member Adaeze Izuegbunam ’20, “Café Music for Violin, Cello, and Piano by Paul Shoenfield,” performed by Luke Henderson ’21, Evan Tsai ’21, and Ariel Wang ’21, stood out the most to her.

“The [first] movement especially took me by surprise, and it made me jump out of my chair. It’s really interesting to watch [them] play, because there’s just so much visible emotion and passion that they put into their craft, ” said Izuegbunam.