Music is blessed with the ability to please the ear. Like all forms of art, music can also soothe the soul. During these chaotic times, it’s hard not to appreciate popular music. Yet, sometimes this mere appreciation is not enough to calm the chaos of the world. Sometimes, true relaxation can be best achieved by listening to classical music. And if music tugs at your heartstrings, why not take a tug on music’s actual strings with the Lenard Chamber Music Series?
This semester, the Lenard Chamber Music Series will present three performances of classical chamber music with not only strings, but also saxophones and other instruments by the University of Connecticut’s Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on its novel “digital stage.” Instead of taking classical music’s stereotypic forms of vast orchestral movements or operatic theatricals, chamber music is performed by a small group of instrumentalists. Through this setting, chamber music is characterized by increased intimacy that refuses to be sacrificed by the magnificent artistry of the pieces being performed.
“Chamber music emphasizes the personal expressiveness and skill you might expect from a soloist, along with the artistic collaboration necessary to perform in larger orchestral or choral ensembles. So, it is a very popular medium for composers,” said Rodney Rock, the director of Jorgensen.
Regarding the personal expressiveness of the concerts, the program states, “In their highly professional, exact interpretations, they explore the relationship between individual expressivity and artistic collaboration, captivating listeners with their joy for playing and emotional depth.”
The three performances will be that of the Kronos Quartet, the Arcis Saxophone Quartet and the UConn School of Fine Arts Showcase. The first performance, with the world-renowned Kronos Quartet, playing on March 18 at 7:30 p.m., will feature string instruments playing selections from their 50 for the Future collection. It will be followed by a dialogue with Rock regarding the program as well as the impact of COVID-19 on the musicians.
The Arcis Saxophone Quartet’s performance on March 26 at 7:30 p.m. will be livestreamed from Munich, Germany. Saxophonists will present the American Dreams program that celebrates Americana and will take audiences through a musical journey of the American way of life. Their use of saxophones is a rarity in the strings-dominated field of chamber music.
“Both the Kronos Quartet and the Arcis Saxophone Quartet truly embody the diversity behind the Lenard Chamber Music Series,” Rock said. “The Kronos Quartet is the world’s leading new music ensemble and is constantly creating new repertoire. I have had the privilege of seeing Kronos perform multiple times here at Jorgensen and I am in awe of their interpretation and skill.”
Rock similarly spoke highly of the Arcis Saxophone Quartet.
”Arcis Saxophone Quartet is an incredibly unique ensemble,” Rock said. “You can count on one hand the number of professional saxophone-only performing groups, and Arcis is a stand-out among them. While the string quartet…may be the most common grouping, chamber music ensembles can be composed of any combination of string, brass, wind and/or percussion instruments, and may also include vocalists. Arcis Saxophone Quartet uses the whole saxophone family…to create a distinctive and unique sound that is rarely heard by the casual chamber music listener. We’re very excited to have them on Jorgensen Digital Stage.”
The UConn School of Fine Arts Faculty Showcase will be performing on April 23 at 7:30 p.m. This concert is different from the others as a “performance close to home” that will feature distinguished faculty of UConn’s music department, including violinist Solomiya Ivakhiv, cellist Sophie Shao, trumpeter Louis Hanzlik, French horn player Eric Reed and special guest pianist Tanya Barrister.
Because of the contributions of patrons Jean and John Lenard, all students from UConn or elsewhere, as well as area youth, are invited to attend these concerts free of charge. For other attendees, tickets are $15 per concert. For more information, visit the Jorgensen Center of Performing Arts website here.