Performance Review: Chamber Music Festival 2018


Renata Shen

Sophomore Reuben Ramos plays his bass emphatically during this year’s chamber music festival in the black box.

Renata Shen , Staff Writer

A group of students sit in the center of the black box auditorium, instruments in hand. In one seat, the cellist adjusts his endpin, in another, a pianist opens her music to the right page. All sit silently, holding a collective breath of anticipation. With the slightest nod from the first chair violin, the performers play their first notes. Harmonies flood the space in a dramatic crescendo.

On Feb. 14th, 2018, students and staff gathered at the Black Box for the Chamber Music Festival, hosted by director Jorge Soto. Unlike a performance by the school’s full orchestra, the festival featured small ensembles, duets and solos performed by students.

A wide variety of groups, musical genres and instruments throughout the festival demonstrated the impressive technical ability of student musicians.

Throughout the festival, ensembles capitalized on the unique sounds of multiple instruments to create robust, well-rounded performances. A group made up of juniors Demitri Papoulis, Celia Wu-Hacohen, Thea Feldgoise, Alishah Khan and Harry Clark performed “Schumann Piano Quintet in E Flat Major op.44.”

Papoulis’ cello added a rich, emotionally buoyant side to the piece while Feldgoise’s flute, performing the part usually given to a first violin, led the performance thematically. Wu-Hacohen’s piano grounded the piece, providing the foundation for violin, cello and flute parts.

Later, a group of freshmen performed a rendition of Mozart’s famous “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” (A Little Night Music). Despite a few dissonant notes, Nezam Jazayeri, Gabriel Hernan, Stella Han and Jacqueline Gu performed with sharp dynamic clarity. The piece reverberated in a grand fashion across the small space.

Student duets provided another engaging part of the festival. With only two performers, the duets highlighted the individual voices of each instrument. Beginning with an emphatic “one two three four” a double bass duet by Raphael Grieco and Reuben Ramos provided one of the most exciting performances of the night. Pizzicato and varied rhythms resulted in a technically impressive piece.

Finally, an instrumental version of La La Land’s “City of Stars” beautifully translated the emotions from the original song to piano and violin. Departing from the traditional genre of classical music, sophomores Anamaria Grieco and Tina Little conveyed the haunting tone of the piece with beautiful precision.

The advanced technical level of playing impressed students and staff alike. Ultimately, the festival served as a reminder that some of the best musical performances come from small ensembles. Often, it’s the smallest groups that make the biggest noise.