One of my favorite aspects of my job is that I have the opportunity to play chamber music on a regular basis. Don't get me wrong, I love playing in an orchestra. It is a tremendous experience to sit on stage in the middle of all that sound. In orchestral playing, my job is to do my best to help bring the conductor's vision of the piece to life. Whether I agree with that vision or not is irrelevant. Chamber music is different. A string quartet consists of four musicians with four different ideas about how the music should be played. We come to the music as equals, almost like having four conductors.
This season the Principal Quartet has two new violinists in Edward Pulgar and Sean Claire. I have known Edward and Sean for awhile and was excited to play with them. I was a bit nervous, though, when we had our first rehearsal at Sean's house and I spotted several swords above the fireplace. All string quartets have their disagreements, and the Principal Quartet is no exception. I was happy to sit near the fireplace that rehearsal. I wanted to be close enough to have the first choice of weapon just in case things got ugly. In reality, our rehearsal went as they usually go. We played, we discussed different approaches, we played again, we debated, and we then decided as a group which approach to take. No swords involved. A little disappointing, actually.
Even though our rehearsals are on the tame side, I am really excited about our collaboration. I have been looking forward to this upcoming concert since we settled on the program last winter. I love Smetana's first quartet. It has one of the juiciest parts for the viola of the entire string quartet repertoire. It is also one of the most difficult parts for the viola of the entire quartet repertoire. This is a piece where it would be useful to have more than five fingers on my left hand, but it is definitely worth the work.
Our concert on Sunday will also feature one of Mozart's later string quartets (K. 499 in D Major) as well as a short piece by Puccini. I know I'm horribly biased, but I think it will be a fantastic concert.
with the Principal Quartet
Edward Pulgar, violin
Sean Claire, violin
Kathryn Gawne, viola
Andy Bryenton, cello
Sunday, November 9, 2:30 PM
Tickets: www.knoxvillesymphony.com | 865-291-3310