Chamber music programs teach students artistry

Leah Rankin | Staff Writer

There are lessons musicians learn while playing chamber music that they don’t learn when playing in an orchestra. Leadership, sacrifice and responsibility make the chamber ensemble one of the most difficult, and most rewarding, experiences.

The Student Chamber Music Recital at 2 p.m. today in McKnight Hall marks the beginning of a summer-long series of daily chamber music concerts for students of the Chautuauqua School of Music.

“Chamber music is a wonderful way to express yourself as a musician, because you are the one to make the decisions,” said Arie Lipsky, the cello faculty member responsible for coordinating more than 40 chamber groups throughout the season.

For students, chamber music can be both a daunting and a liberating experience. At the School of Music, students are responsible for scheduling their own rehearsals and making their own musical decisions.

Especially in the context of a quartet, strong personalities either can create an enthusiastic musical connection or clash when they disagree on how to interpret a piece of music. Either way, there must be give and take.

“Chamber music is like a marriage,” Lipsky said. “Some don’t work, and the rest don’t work either.”

Even the best musicians have to learn how to compromise, Lipsky said. Chamber musicians have to learn how to led and how to be lead. Most importantly, they have to be their own teachers.

“There is only one rule,” Lipsky said. “We are constructive. We are polite. You are allowed to criticize, but in a constructive way.”

Without the help of a conductor, chamber musicians have to be able to discuss their music without berating the other players. Constructive criticism is as important for a musician to learn as any artist.

The first round of chamber groups is comprised of very mixed instrumentation, Lipsky said. Pairing clarinetists, French horn players, violinists and pianists teaches the musicians versatility while creating interesting chamber music programs.

During Week Six, the Audubon String Quartet will coach chamber groups at the School of Music. That week, the chamber groups will consist of mostly string quartets.

During these weeks of intensive chamber music, musicians learn how to work together, listen to each other, read music scores and discuss musical ideas, Lipsky said.

“They learn, not how to be an instrumentalist,” Lipsky said. “They learn how to be an artist.”

All chamber music recitals benefit the Chautauqua Women’s Club Scholarship Fund.