The School of Music is presenting a series of five chamber music concerts this weekend to showcase the talents of their students across the Instrumental and Piano Programs.
In chamber music performances, there is no conductor guiding the musicians; instead, they are playing off of one another, making decisions in real time to add their own personal artistic flair to the piece while simultaneously trying to blend in with the others onstage.
“It gives lots of responsibility to the students,” said Kathryn Votapek. “I believe it’s the greatest way to make music.”
The first concert will be at 6 p.m. tonight in Fletcher Music Hall, as Chautauquans are invited to witness 17 of the students present a series of classical works.
“The students have put in an incredible amount of work in six relatively short weeks,” said Votapek, who holds titles as both a violin instructor and chair of chamber music at the School of Music.
Votapek has been working with the students since the beginning of the summer, but rehearsals for this concert series officially began on July 19. They started just after the first session of three chamber concerts, which took place the weekend of July 14.
“Because we are featuring our wind players in this second session of chamber music,” Votapek said, “we will have works for woodwinds and piano, as well as brass ensembles.”
The program for this evening begins with a piece composed mainly for woodwinds: Johann Georg Lickl’s Cassazione for Oboe, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon. Brian Stewart will be performing on oboe, Katia Waxman on clarinet, Gretchen Berendt on horn, and Lauren Hallonquist on bassoon.
The evening continues with a selection of movements from Gordon Jacob’s Sextet for Piano, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon. Gabriel Landstedt will be playing the piano, Jocelyn Zhang the flute, Kearsen Erwin the oboe, Aaron Lipsky the clarinet, Samuel Hines the horn, and Alexander Lake the bassoon.
The final element of tonight’s program will be Ludwig Thuille’s Sextet in B Flat Major, Op. 6, performed by flutist Josean Delgado, oboist Nathalie Vela, clarinetist Nathan Magley, horn player Trenton Carr, and bassoonist Miranda Macias. Two pianists will be switching out for this piece, with Grace Tubbs playing the first two movements and Vanessa Yu taking the following two.
Votapek said the students’ hard work preparing for this concert series is all the more admirable in light of the other obligations they have through the School of Music’s rigorous programming.
“Many summer festivals will focus on orchestra or chamber music or solo work, or a combination of a couple of these things,” she said. “Here at Chautauqua, our students do all three.”
While the students are preparing for the chamber concerts this week, they are also working on final showcases for orchestral and solo performances, she said. The instrumentalists are beginning rehearsals for Gustav Mahler’s “monumental” Fifth Symphony, to be performed this coming Monday in the Amphitheater, while the pianists are preparing their pieces for the final recitals this Thursday and Friday.
“It’s really amazing to see and feel the students’ energy and dedication,” she said.