By NATALIE SAYEWICHT
It will be a quick turnaround for artistic director Ara Gregorian and the five other musicians coming together in Greenville to perform chamber music that is expected to be of world-class caliber. That, however, isn’t anything new for Gregorian, and he doesn’t believe that a lack of preparation time might result in a lower-quality performance.
On the contrary, watching the musicians improvise on stage and play off one another is what makes each concert of the East Carolina School of Music’s Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival truly unique and special.
Gregorian has chosen five world-class musicians from around the globe to join him in a string sextet for the “Souvenirs” concerts on Jan. 17 and 18 as part of the festival, which is now in its 13th year.
The program features Elina Vähälä of Finland, and Xiao-Dong Wang, born in China and now living in New York, both playing violin. Kyzysztof Chorzelski, born in Poland and now living in London, will join Gregorian playing the viola. Colin Carr of Oxford, England, and Michael Kannen of the United States will play the cello.
To find musicians for the event, Gregorian asked artists that he has played with both internationally and in the United States. Additionally, all of the musicians performing in “Souvenirs” have been a part of Four Seasons in the past, separately. They will perform Richard Strauss’ Sextet from “Capriccio,” Op. 85; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Grande Sestetto Concertante” and Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s String Sextet in D Minor, Op. 70, “Souvenir de Florence.”
“The music that we’re playing is going to be able to highlight each of these players’ strengths in a really special way that I think is going to be able to show each of these people at their best,” he said. “Also, the combination of these people, I think, will yield a really fantastic energy. From my past working with them, I’m sure that that’s going to be the case.”
In addition to rehearsing and performing, each artist will work with East Carolina students during their short stint in Greenville, doing a master class in which students will perform for the professionals and receive feedback.
“It is an invaluable thing for them to get to play for people of this caliber,” Gregorian said. “It’s something that’s a really special opportunity for the students.”
Because musicians are expected to arrive Tuesday, rehearsal time will be limited to Tuesday evening, all day Wednesday and early Thursday. But limited practice time hasn’t been a problem that Gregorian has noticed over the course of the festival.
“It’s kind of a quick turnaround preparing everything, but if you’re hiring people that are on their level, then you can do it in that amount of time,” he said. “There’s not a lot of time to rehearse. Maybe for each piece, two or three rehearsals. Then each concert that happens is also a learning experience. We’re presenting something to the public, but every time you sit down and play you’re learning and collaborating and that’s one of the most fun things as musicians to be a part of.”
Despite the international lineup, all of the musicians speak English, which makes Gregorian’s task a bit easier. He has found, however, that nonverbal communication with this type of program is just as important.
“I think there’s also a certain unsaid communication,” he said. “When we’re playing together, we’re all communicating with each other as this happens. That’s one of the really neat things about chamber music. When you’re rehearsing together and playing a concert together on stage, there’s so much communication going on that isn’t verbal. That’s certainly a huge part of what we do and I think that the audiences can really pick up on that and enjoy it, and that’s what makes it truly thrilling.”
Contact Natalie Sayewich at 252-325-9596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
via The Daily Reflector.