Instead of (yet another) New Year’s Resolution to eat less, exercise more, practice scales, or master second position (not gonna happen), I’ve made a commitment to play more chamber music. I recently had an experience that made me realize there’s a whole new world awaiting me, right inside my own home.
Some friends came over for an informal holiday meal. One of our guests happened to be a superb violinist by the name of Miroslav Hristov. He brought his violin and a book of Heifetz/Kreisler arrangements. My husband, previously unaware of this, agreed to sightread the accompaniments at the piano.
I wondered how violin selections would go over with our guests. It was an eclectic group, spanning four decades in terms of age and as many professions as there were people in the room: lawyer, preacher, psychologist, hotelier, school music administrator, librarian, etc. Most of these folks know that our parties end up around the piano with opera singer friends who can’t resist the opportunity to let off some vocal steam. But on this particular evening there were no singers in sight. Throwing an instrumentalist at this crowd was going to be a first.
When Miro began to play Gluck’s exquisite “Melody” (arr. Heifetz), you could not only hear a pin drop, you could see tears in the eyes of most of my friends. Miro moved on to the spirited “Danse espagnole” (De Falla/Kreisler), the gut-wrenching “Deep River” (arr. Heifetz), and the liltingly joyous “Beau Soir” (Debussy/Kreisler). My guests cheered, danced, and enjoyed every second of the music. My husband wrapped up the entertainment with solo pieces by Moszkowski and De Falla. I hadn’t seen him this happy in a long time… and he’s a professional musician who performs regularly. In fact, he said, “Nothing cleanses the musical soul of a professional musician like chamber music.”
It got me thinking. If people enjoyed this experience so much, why not put some effort into making it a more regular event? And while I love my regular string quartet rehearsals, rather than being confined to repertoire dictated by the makeup of a specific ensemble, how about a solo flute, unaccompanied violin, or even a string octet? Or what about having instrumentalists play another part, for example, give the violin line to the oboe? Sessions could be theme-based, with music, food, and wine drawn from the same geographic area. Alternatively, music could focus on the birth or death anniversary of a composer. Sessions could even revolve around a given musical form, such as the fugue, chaconne, or gigue.
As I ponder this resolution for 2018, here are a few questions I’ll consider when planning a chamber music event:
As we now begin 2018, here’s to more chamber music!
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