On the evening of Tuesday Feb 5th, the first night of our 2019 Musical Horizons study tour, a small group of Elder Conservatorium Instrumentalists attended a Chamber music class at the Royal College of Music, London. The Chamber Music Class is an ideal performance opportunity for the Royal College of Music Students to receive feedback on their prepared performances. The first ensemble of two to perform was a string quartet formed in November of 2018, made up of two 3rd year violin students, a 2nd year viola student and a 1st year cello student.
The quartet performed the 1st Movement of a Beethoven composition to an audience made up of RCM students, ourselves and visiting lecturer from Berlin and internationally acclaimed violist Avri Levitan. Communication between members of the quartet was evident throughout the performance, whilst fabulous dynamic contrast and character was present through their playing.
Avri Levitan spoke extensively to the students about the difference between what they as musicians intend to play and what the audience actually hears. He referred to the musicians as a ‘bridge’ between the composers written intentions and the musical experience and sound the audience receives. Avri also spoke to the students about the consideration of coordination between their hands when performing, particularly in relation to playing a string instrument, as well as describing the profession of a musician as it is ‘to listen.’ He spoke about how interpretation is important, however at the same time it is vital to follow the score as this is what the composer had intended. “Be honest to the sound” and “listen whilst you play, rather than playing and then attempting to later correct or adapt your performance” he stated.
Both string quartet performances that we were privileged enough to be present for were greatly beneficial to all of us. Not only as we were able to watch the performances and see what these RCM students had been practicing and preparing for the past 3 months, but we were able to each individually take on board the feedback Avri Levitan provided to the Royal College of Music young musicians and relate this to our specific musical experiences.
Written by Elicia Baldwin