Monday, March 21, 2005

Making Music at GWU

I went to a music class at George Washington University on Saturday. The class offers an ongoing chance for musicians to get together to play chamber music. The professor, Jessica Krash, has been the liason in making this happen for over 10 years now.

Prior to the class I played a piano 4-hand piece, one of the Brahms Liebeslieder (love songs), just so Jessica could get an idea of my level of competence. I guarantee it is on the low side of this group! But she was very supportive, and interestingly enough, after I played, she said, “Are you left-handed?” She could tell just by the way I held my left hand!

So the plan for me right now is to work with Ken, a work colleague who has been participating in this class for some time, to learn the first several Liebeslieder. Jessica will scout out vocalists to do the 4-part songs. Should be challenging and fun!

The first piece on the morning’s program was Telemann’s Cantata No. 13 “Seele, Lerne Dich Erkennen” (O Soul, Cease Thy Vain Demanding), including harpsichord, recorder, cello, and soprano voice. This is an interesting piece, intended to be played in a home setting in the Lenten season. It is based on text from First Corinthians 13, which says that the deeds of man are pathetic compared to the works of God. We had a thought-provoking discussion about how Telemann conveyed a realm of feelings in the voice of the various instruments.

The second piece was a group of 6 songs by Spohr, another German composer. These songs were written for piano, clarinet, and soprano voice. We actually found many of the same motifs in these songs as in the Telemann piece.

Both pieces were played flawlessly on beautiful instruments. These musicians are all extremely competent. Which of course leaves me wondering if this is all out of my league? I’m not ready to make that call yet. I’ll wait to see how the Liebeslieder progress. If I can pull this off, it will be an excellent opportunity for me to finally learn how to play in public, something I have always been too unconfident to do. We’ll see...

Meanwhile, I will continue to enjoy some inexpensive concert-quality chamber music from the others in the group.

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