By Julia Waldow
The first time the Chase Quartet gathered together to play a Beethoven piece, Jeremy Fuller ’14 immediately knew the four members would make a good match.
“I was surprised about how much we clicked and how much we fell into a groove without much hassle,” Fuller, who plays cello, said.
After months of rehearsals, David Hoyt ’14, who is also the Collegian‘s chief copy editor, Andrew Stewart ’15, Alayne Wegner ’17 and Fuller will perform for the Gambier community on Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. in Brandi Recital Hall. The group will play Schubert’s “Quartettsatz,” Borodin’s String Quartet No. 2 and Prokofiev’s String Quartet No. 2.
“We all kind of brought different pieces to the table,” Fuller said in regards to programming. “You want to balance repertoire as much as you can. There’s going to be an element of similar style in the music, but we tried to make it varied in terms of what we’ve put together for the concert.”
According to Fuller, the pieces the quartet will perform differ from stereotypical, more delicate classical selections.
“When you think of classical music, a lot of people think of Mozart and very peaceful [music], like light background music,” he said. “But I think that not enough people are aware that early 20th century stuff is pretty intense. The Prokofiev one is inspired by folk songs, but he used a lot of dissonance and driving rhythms. You get more roughness out of the playing then you get from something like Mozart. It’s more rugged, which is fun to play but is normally a lot more difficult than something from the 18th century.”
Fuller, Stewart and Hoyt had previously played together in the Knox County Symphony and Kenyon’s string ensemble before deciding to branch out and explore different music.
After adding Wegner to their group in September, the musicians met two to three times a week for at least two hours to go over pieces.
“Normally, beforehand, we think, ﾑThis week, we should focus on this specific stuff,'” Hoyt, who plays viola, said. “You never want to go through everything all of the time because that’s not really constructive. We might work on detail work in a few different sections or we might try to get through an entire piece and see how it sounds so we can identify where we need to work.”
In addition to listening to each other’s ideas about a passage, the musicians occasionally listen to different recordings of a piece to help craft their interpretation of the music.
“In other kinds of music, there’s room for improvisation, [but] in classical music, you have a score and ideas that a composer came up with that are fully worked out,” Stewart, who plays violin, said.
“You have to work within that given framework when you’re presenting the music. Since the notes are set out for you, it becomes a question of interpretation and providing your own commentary on the music.”
Although the quartet has received some instruction from Adjunct Instructor of Cello Luis Biava, the group lacks a consistent outside advisor. Instead, members rely on each other to collaborate and give each other constructive feedback, which they said has enabled them to develop a strong group dynamic.
“We try to reflect the playfulness or the seriousness of the music based on what the music is trying to portray,” Wegner, who plays violin, said. “I think we are able to do that successfully in that we understand each other’s personalities and musical gestures or expressions.”
Through playing its three pieces, the quartet aims to expose its audience to music with which it may not be familiar.
“There’s a lot of good art and music at Kenyon in a lot of different areas, but I think that at Kenyon and in society in general, classical music, although it’s not dying, does tend to sometimes get overlooked,” Hoyt said. “I hope that a lot of people will hear us and realize that this can be interesting too. We think that some of the stuff that we chose is cool, and hopefully other people will [too].”
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