May 26, 2012

This absolutely glorious day began with a chamber music concert at the Dock Street Theatre that featured the St. Lawrence Quartet.  The musical director and first violinist of the ensemble, Geoff Nuttall, was an engaging figure whose charm was matched by the artistry of the quartet.  St. Lawrence has been the quartet in residence for the past 16 years at Spoleto, and their ease of performance and sophisticated collective musicianship made for a delightful concert.  (We heard the “Quinten” String Quartet, Op. 76, No.2 by Franz Joseph Haydn and the Concerto for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet in D major, Op. 21 by Ernest Chausson).  There was also a flutist, Tara Helen O’Connor, who played a very entertaining and technically incredible piece by Ian Clarke called Great Train Race.

In the afternoon, many of us saw another production, this time theatrical.  The Animals and the Children Took to the Streets was a unique theatrical experience.  The cast consisted of three women, one at a piano and two others who played all of the actual human characters.  The rest of the show was animated, and happened on three screens, which made up the stage.  It was visually striking and so creative – it is no wonder that in 2012, the show has toured in Sri Lanka, Dubai, China, New Zealand, and the United States, and in 2013 will tour across the UK, in Russia, Asia, and Europe.

After a rest following the show, it was time to prepare ourselves for Kepler’s opening night!  As usual, it was busy in hair/makeup – all of the women wear tight braids.  These serve the design of the show (we are students in uniform) and also serve a necessary function – they (mostly) prevent our hair from becoming entangled in the chain mail hoods.  Adrenaline was pumping through the cast and crew.  So many people had expended great effort for the production, and now finally it was time to share it.  The singing was terrific, and the orchestra was on fire.  The audience showed their appreciation with a standing ovation.  As we left the stage following the curtain call, Myles Glancy, bass, said simply “So, guys…we just premiered an opera.”

This wasn’t new information – we have been talking about this amongst ourselves for months, but to hear it stated so frankly made me pause and reflect on how fortunate we are for the opportunity to be educated in this way, with these people.  What we learn through the music-making process at Westminster will influence our artistry for the rest of our lives.

About Westminster Choir

Westminster Choir is composed of students at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, a center for music study in Princeton, N.J.
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