By Darren Johnson, Adult Amateur Chamber Music Academy member, violin.
I have been a participant in the Adult Chamber Music Workshop with Off the Hook Arts over the last few months. A new program, the adult workshop seeks to combine individuals into as equally matched groups as possible to give experienced adults the opportunity to make some wonderful chamber music together. Pre-formed groups can also register to work together.
For those like myself who don’t play professionally and are simply looking for some time during the week to get together with fellow classical music enthusiasts, this is a great opportunity. Groups range from duos to quartets, and the group can choose what music they want to work on and perform over the course of several months. Dates for the fall semester were September 12 – December 12, and the winter/spring semester will be from January 9 – May 15. Our upcoming concert is on December 12, and will feature the adult groups as well as the junior groups performing. The concert starts at 4:15 p.m. and will be at Ridgeview Classical Charter School. I encourage you to attend.
Having recently graduated from college in Tulsa, Oklahoma in May and having moved from Albuquerque, NM to Fort Collins, CO just over a year ago, I had no network of musicians in my new hometown. Throughout my time in college I did some gig work, playing violin in special events for churches as part of a quartet or band. Chamber music is something I have always enjoyed being a part of – perhaps more so than orchestral music. It’s incredible how different the experience is for both the player and the listener of chamber music.
For the listener, each voice can be heard much more clearly. The audience recognizes that each musician is involved in bringing the music together. To see musicians coming together without the assistance of a conductor is nothing short of a miracle. With just three or four players, a piece can have as much gravitas and greater unison than when it is being played by a group of fifty or sixty. For the players, they have more control over the pieces and there is more room for expression. There is also an incredible amount of musical styles to choose from. Compositions span from the Baroque period to more modern works. And there are no crazy baton movements to get lost in. The group breathes and operates as one.
Each group has a professional chamber music coach that leads the session. My group has met every Wednesday evening during the semester from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. and has been led by Ann Schnaidt, instructor of violin, viola, and piano at Front Range Community College. Ann’s job is not just to help organize and lead us, but to also offer stylistic comments and historical notes that we may not otherwise know or think of. Certainly, the music makes the group enjoyable in its own right, but being part of the program has also provided me with a great learning and networking experience with other adult players.
I have been particularly impressed with the talent and graciousness of my group. Clark Rosen, who plays clarinet for our group, has also immensely enjoyed being part of the program. Having moved from California to Fort Collins earlier this year, he said about the program, “I had enjoyed playing chamber music for more than 40 years with musicians I knew in northern California. I was hoping to find a way to meet musicians for chamber playing here, and when I learned that Off the Hook Arts was offering a chamber academy for adults, it was a wish come true. Having coaching for rehearsals is a valuable added benefit.”
Bringing people together through music is a beautiful thing. Music is really a universal language that transcends time and differences between people. As we gather with family and friends this holiday season and look to give back to our communities that bring us joy, consider offering your support to an organization that brings the gift of music to people of all ages.