SHAR is excited to announce a new partnership with Associated Chamber Music Players, encouraging everyone to experience the joys of playing chamber music while enjoying special benefits from SHAR. The following blog describes one violinist’s experience with chamber music, his journey away from his violin, and back again.
Last month, writing for SHAR’s blog series, “The Lives of Artists . . . In Their Own Words”, Formosa Quartet violinist Jasmine Lin explained that being open to an unclear future is what enabled four individuals to coalesce into one ensemble fifteen years ago. Trusting their own intuitions, and each other’s, has allowed them to continually renew themselves artistically, engaging deeply with their audience in the process.
But sometimes a change is needed. Artists are explorers at heart, and since they trust their own intuitions, they develop the courage to venture out. This is not the same as fearlessness. It’s quite the opposite: It’s venturing into the unknown despite their fear. For violinist Rebecca Fischer, that meant giving up something that she still loves and that still brings her joy, as her beloved Chiara Quartet lovingly disbands after 25 years together. As Rebecca passionately puts it in her blog article, “What I want to do in this next stage of my life is both clear and completely open to me.” And that’s how “The Afield” was born . . .
Have you ever been to an Irish pub or special gathering where a small circle of people pulled out their various instruments and just started playing, without pause, energetic and mythical sounding sets of tunes that just turn and turn into the night? The group may be as small as two people, or as large as a small orchestra, and while some people may be close friends, others are total strangers. What they all have in common are their memorization of dozens, sometimes hundreds of tunes, all shared in a common ancestry - not hereditary, but simply musical. If you play a stringed instrument and haven't been a part of what is most often called Irish session music, you absolutely must, and this St. Patrick's Day is a great opportunity. If you are hooked on Celtic fiddling, a tune book and some advice will help you in becoming one of that timeless circle of musicians.
Is your string quartet booked for any holiday gigs? Do you have a group of advanced players in your orchestra that might want to showcase a quartet at the Christmas Concert? The string quartet is one of the most enduring and popular ensembles because of its limitless possibilities in expression, tone, and dynamics. However, there is so much sheet music for string quartet floating around out there, that it can be tough to find actual good arrangements - many are poorly notated or thoughtlessly adapted from other instrumentation. When arrangements are bad, there's is often nothing that can be done to make them pleasing. To make your search much easier, I'll suggest these five books containing arrangements of Holiday tunes that go far beyond your standard sing-along carol book, and are perfectly arranged for string quartet! These are all in the intermediate to advanced difficulty range, which allows for much more interesting music than basic arrangements.I hope one of these quartet books becomes your annual musical tradition!
Do you have sheetmusic ready for this year’s holiday celebrations? The Holiday season is a hectic time, and if you’re in charge of getting music students ready for concerts, I certainly don’t have to tell you that. I also don’t have to tell you that if you are trying to get string players together for an ensemble - whether it’s for church, school, a charity collection at the local mall, or just for grandma’s enjoyment – you can’t be too picky about the instrumentation! The chances are slim of ending up with a standard string quartet of exactly two violins, one viola, and one cello. Publishers and arrangers know this, which is why so many have put together collections of music that can work with many assortments of violin, viola, cello, and bass. So, why not be prepared with one of these flexible ensembles that will make your Christmas, Chanukah, or other winter holiday gathering jolly? Having an assortment of this type of music can be very helpful for getting holiday season gigs on a moment’s notice, or just always being prepared for spontaneous string caroling!