Arts

Chamber groups perform with professionals

For the first time ever on January 30, professional musicians joined the Upper School (US) chamber groups as they performed pieces by composers like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven, and Franz Schubert, Chamber Music and Orchestra Teacher Brian Reasoner said.

Cellist Agnes Coakley Cox ’04, who also sings for the Boston-based Choir of the Church of the Advent and used to perform in a chamber group at the school, appeared in the concert with her husband, Nathaniel, who plays the theorbo—a large lute that resembles a guitar.

While Ms. Coakley Cox had accompanied the orchestra before, playing the timpani, no guest performers had ever joined the chamber groups. Mr. Reasoner invited the Cox couple because he thought the group and the audience would like hearing an alumna and seeing the theorbo. The two practiced with the groups on the day before the concert.

The concert, which welcomed around 50 people, began at 7:00 p.m. in the Orchestra Room with a performance of Maurice Ravel’s “Pavane de la Belle au Dormant” and Edward Elgar’s “Salut d’Amour,” featuring flutist Philip Satterthwaite ’19, clarinetist Stanley Gao, oboist Philip Liu (both ’20), horn player Oliver Shapiro ’21, and English Teacher Rob Leith on bassoon.

Stanley said he was happy with the group’s performance, especially given how little time the instrumentalists have during the week to meet and rehearse.

“The group was overall very pleased,” he said, adding that he thought the performance was better than their practices.

Kevin Ye ’19 and Eli Korngiebel ’20 played “Trio in G Major,” Haydn’s string duet, followed by violinist Aaron Rasin and pianist Kelsey Ji (both ’20) performing “melodious exercises” by Elgar. Flutist Claire Zhang ’20, violinist Elizabeth Bowen ’18, and viola player Vinayak Sharma ’19 then performed a rendition of Mozart’s “Quartet in C Major” alongside Ms. Coakley Cox.

“It was a lot of fun to return to BB&N and play in the chamber music concert again,” Ms. Coakley Cox said. “It almost felt like I was going back in time. There are still a lot of students who are talented players and are interested in playing classical music.”

Tessa Haining ’18 kicked off the Beethoven portion of the program with a performance of “Sonata in F Major,” also known as “Spring,” for solo violin, and violinists Sam Rabieh and Alex Wu and viola player Sam Whitney (all ’21) performed “String Quartet in C minor” with Ms. Coakley Cox.

The evening rounded out with Ms. Coakley Cox and her husband joining Philip Satterthwaite and Philip Liu in Jan Dismas Zelenka’s “Trio Sonata No. 1 in F Major.”

“It was very exciting to perform with them,” Phillip Liu said. “I had never actually seen the theorbo Nate was playing, so it was very cool to be in the presence of it and hear how it sounds.”

Avik Sarkar and Magnus Aske (both ’19) performed the final song of the evening, Franz Schubert’s “Sonata in A minor.”

Audience member Ines Levy ’21 said she admired the talent of the students and professionals.

“The musicians were all skilled,” she said. “And the instruments were matched up perfectly to showcase each person’s skill.”

Theodor Lukin-Yelin ’18 praised the concert for its diversity of musical styles.

Identifying himself as “primarily a jazz musician,” he added, “This concert illustrated the different merits of the respective styles practiced at our school. The coordination and precision [in] this ensemble of such size truly amazed me.”

Mr. Reasoner said he thought the groups performed well and appreciated the large, supportive audience as well as the adult musicians’ contributions.

“The collaboration with these outside musicians was so successful that we will hopefully bring them again for the May [6] chamber music concert,” he said. “They provided a completely new perspective playing a taxing and technically brilliant Baroque trio sonata by Jan Zelenka.”

“The student performers have improved a lot since the beginning of the year,” Concertmaster Michelle Tang ’18 said. “And playing with older musicians helped them improve even more.”

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