by Erica Rabito
Following a stressful week of cramming for midterms, Kenyon students were in desperate need of something to take their minds off of school work. Their respite came when, on Sunday, Oct. 11, an audience of around 65 students and community members gathered in Rosse Hall to listen to the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin work their magic.
Founded in Russia in 1991 by conductor and musical director Misha Rachlevsky, the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin is made up of 13 young men and women, most under the age of 30, and all extremely talented strings players.
Since gaining fame in Russia, the group has performed more than 1,800 concerts in Moscow and in 24 countries. After contacting Professor of Music Ted Buehrer, Gund Concert Series organizer, the orchestra chose Kenyon as one of its stops on a tour across the Midwest that included stops at Iowa State University and Wittenberg University.
“They’re a very respected group and gave a really fantastic performance — precise but also really rich playing,” Buehrer said. “It was a pretty easy decision to say, ‘Yeah, let’s invite them to come.’”
The group opened its performance with Adagio, K. 287 in E-flat majorfrom “Divertimiento No. 15” by Mozart. The slow, peaceful selection eased the audience into the concert, and left many members of the audience wide-eyed and uttering “wow” under their breath. A soloist performed briefly while younger performers held their own and played well together.
Beethoven’s String Quartet in C Minor, Op. 18, No. 4 followed. Considerably more up-tempo and faster than the Mozart, the quartet inspired viewers to tap their feet and bob their heads.
Following intermission, the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin returned with modern pieces. “Suite in Ancient Style,” by Russian composer Alfred Schnittke, began slowly and gradually increased in speed as the piece progressed through its five sections. The fourth section of the piece was extremely quick and difficult to play and the violinists’ fingers flew across their instruments.
“Night of the Transfigured Dead” by contemporary German-American composer Tom Schnauber, the night’s clear outlier, followed and brought with it a much more sinister tone than was present in the other selections. The violins screeched out high notes that recalled horror movies, and the occasional deep bass added an ominous air.
“Four Tangos” by Argentine composer Ástor Piazzolla were the last songs on the program and their completion prompted a standing ovation. After the conductor’s first bow, he asked for a member of the audience to join him on stage; the man called up on stage selected a performer to solo in the evening’s final song. Following the song’s completion, the audience once again rose to their feet in a standing ovation. Chelsey Hamm, visiting instructor of music, said the audience’s reaction to the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin was unprecedented for a Kenyon performance.
“I’ve never seen a standing ovation at a Kenyon concert, and definitely not two,” Hamm said.
Overall, the Orchestra was extremely talented, polished and refined, and provided the audience with a night they will not soon forget. Following their final ovation, the audience left Rosse excitedly discussing what they had just witnessed, and eager to hear more of the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin.