String Festival features collaborative effort: Student ensembles join with the Ying Quartet for a night of music

Posted by Rachel Kim

The college's seventh annual String Festival Finale was held on Sunday March 27 at the Zankel Music Center. Participants included four of the college's string ensembles, outside community members.

Members of the Ying Quartet, who had performed at Zankel the night before, worked with five of the seven ensembles.

The first ensemble performed Mozart's String Quartet No. 17 in B-flat Major, "The Hunt." In typical Mozart fashion, the music was light and flowed with ease.

Violinists Rebecca Schwartz ‘14 and Lyndsay Stone ‘14 nimbly played through the fast, intricate notes as the violist Gia Vaccarezza '13 and cellist Bridget Smith '14 played along with strong notes that supported the melody.

The second number featured the Vermont Youth Orchestra that also played a Mozart piece. The String Quartet No. 19 in C Major created an atmosphere that differed from the first performance.

The quartet started with the cellist, Will Kiendl, leading the group with the repetition of slow, ominous notes, creating a serious, somber tone that revealed a different, lesser-known side of Mozart.

Still, the common Mozart qualities showed through when the ensemble quickly jumped into faster, lighter notes. Despite the many tempo changes, all the members stayed together, entering and ending phrases in unison.

Next was The Felix Quartet who performed Mendelssohn's String Quartet No. 3 in D Major. All the members were dressed in black and expressed a seriousness that immediately demanded the audience's attention.

The first violinist sped through the notes with a quick, dramatic pace and hit every high note with accurate pitch.

Violinists Noah Luft-Weisberg and Avery Normandin gracefully intertwined their melodies with that of the cellist Molly Goldstein and violist Paige Normandin, ultimately transitioning the piece into a slow, dramatic quiet. The players ended with a strong chord that resonated throughout the hall.

Another one of the college's string ensembles then performed Beethoven's String Quartet No. 7 in F Major. Each player was able to show individual talent with individual solos.

The piece had a give-and-take feel as the solos were passed along. Cellist James Merrick ‘11 and violist Grace Eire ‘12 produced rich sounds that reflected the Romantic characteristic that is so often found in Beethoven's works.

Another Beethoven piece, the String Quartet No. 9 in C Major, reflected similar rich tones. Another ensemble from the college opened the piece with dramatic loud notes that dropped to softer, quiet ones. The strength of all four players carried through every note until the very end.

The Spectrum Quartet then played String Quartet No. 2 in A minor by Shostakovich, a composer notorious for his difficult pieces.

From the start, the quartet's performance changed the tone of the overall concert. The piece had a more modern sound that contrasted greatly from the Classical Mozart and Romantic Beethoven that preceded it.

There was a dissonance in the notes that kept the audience intrigued and wanting for resolution. Despite the frantic rushes of notes and clashing minor scales between the instruments, the group impressively stayed united throughout the difficult piece.

The last ensemble composed of the college's own students, played Debussy's String Quartet in G Minor. All four players performed with an air of elegance as they gracefully moved their bows across the strings. The piece had a beautiful complexity that was marked by dramatic rises and falls.

Finally, after a 10-minute intermission, all participants and the members of the Ying Quartet crowded the stage and played Beethoven's famous String Quartet No. 9 in C Major.

The violas quickly raced through multiple complicated notes and were followed by the other instruments.

Eventually, all the players filled the entire hall with a loud, grand sound.

With such a large ensemble playing a piece originally intended for four players, the intricate sounds can easily be lost, but the mixture of all the smaller ensembles created a rich resonance.

The performance left the audience stunned in silence and applauding fervently immediately afterward. The final collaboration reflected all the great effort that every participant, with the help of the Ying Quartet, had put into the String Festival Finale.

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