Chamber orchestra ‘Criers’ perform at Lenna today


Provided photo
The 18-member chamber music ensemble A Far Cry will take the stage at 4 p.m. today in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall.

When viola player Jason Fisher and the rest of A Far Cry first walk out at 4 p.m. today inside Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall, attendees unfamiliar with the group will quickly notice what makes them so unique.

First, they don’t sit down. A Far Cry plays their entire program standing up. Then, people realize that, while they play scores of a string quintet repertoire, there aren’t five musicians on stage.

There are 18.

Based out of Boston, A Far Cry boasts a roster of nine violins, four violas, three cellos and two basses. The “Criers,” as they like to go by, are much larger than most chamber music ensembles and by far the most comprehensive of this season’s Logan Chamber Music Series.

Fisher said that, while they are a chamber ensemble by the technical turn of phrase, the group prefers a different moniker.

“We’re definitely more of a chamber orchestra setup,” he said. “We’re a lot like the foundation of a string quintet, but we have the functionality of an orchestra while maintaining the intimate feel of chamber music.”

The Criers last performed at Chautauqua in 2012, a concert that Fisher credits with laying the groundwork for their return this year. The ensemble will also accompany Chautauqua Dance during Wednesday’s “Dance Innovations” performance at 8:15 p.m. in the Amp.

Made up of a diverse group of musicians that have other professional obligations throughout the year, A Far Cry tends to play fewer than 10 shows each summer.

When they do perform, their repertoire is as diverse as any ensemble around. The program includes Antonín Dvořák’s “Three Slavonic Dances” to an arrangement of Caroline Shaw’s “Entr’acte” she put together exclusively for A Far Cry.

“While we play a lot of traditional repertoire, we enjoy playing experimental pieces, too,” Fisher said. “We feel like audiences really connect with that sort of diverse dynamism.”

The other three pieces to be featured are: “Fandango,” from Cello Quintet in D major, by Luigi Boccherini; “Turceasca” by Sapo Perapaskero; and Leoš Janáček’s “Idyll.”

Janáček’s composition will be the first after intermission and “the meat of the program,” according to Fisher.

The piece bears a heavy resemblance, at times, to Dvořák’s own style, which is appropriate considering he was in the audience for its seven-movement premiere in December 1978.

“ ‘Idyll’ is meant somewhat literally,” Fisher said. “A lot of it represents the idyllic setting of Janáček’s home in the Czech Republic.”

Amid their unconventional set of musicians and musical numbers, the Criers say they hold true to the intrinsic values of chamber music ensembles and the smaller-scale concert setting.

“When we play, the thing that people connect with the most is our communication with one another in an intimate way that belies our size,” Fisher said. “It adds a contagious spark to to the show.”