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The Hidden Prodigies of Deerfield in Orchestra and Chamber
grace murphy 11 arts entertainment editor volume 85
May 27, 2010

Have you been to a chamber concert? Chamber includes the hidden and perhaps under-appreciated prodigies of our community. With the recent creation of an orchestra, and a series of orchestra and chamber concerts this month, the Academy is enjoying an upsurge of classical music excitement.

What is the difference between chamber and orchestra? Chamber is a group of two to nine musicians with no conductor, while an orchestra is a larger group of musicians with a variety of instruments. Last week’s orchestra consisted of string instruments, but it may grow to include a larger variety.

Academic Dean Peter Warsaw directs the Chamber Music class and has wanted to start an orchestra for some time. “Mr. Warsaw has taken a lot of initiative. It is hard to put an orchestra together, and he has dedicated a lot of his personal time to it,” said Yu Jin Nam ’11. Nick Whittredge ’10 praised Mr. Warsaw as “ambitious and the driving force behind the music department’s growth.”

The orchestra debuted on Spring Parents’ Weekend and performed again last Wednesday, with works by Corelli and Vaughan Williams. Soloists included Andrew Kang ’10, Whittredge, Akshaya Avril-Tucker ’11, Muriel Solberg ’12, Emlyn Van Eps ’12.

There are positive and negative aspects to any newly-formed group. Kang laments the impersonality of large orchestras: “Smaller groups are more conducive to individual growth. It’s really easy in an orchestra to forget about yourself.” Still, the orchestra presents an opportunity for ambitious chamber musicians to try something new.

Most musicians attend chamber class four periods a week, rehearse on the weekends, and practice “whenever we are in the same room with our instruments,” admitted Avril-Tucker. The coaching with Mr. Warsaw is intense, but it “promotes individual improvement and enables us to play ambitious pieces,” said Whittredge. Unfortunately, much of their efforts go unnoticed.

If you missed the orchestra last week, all the more reason to attend this week’s chamber concert, with works by Mozart, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Schubert.

What makes this chamber concert special? Kang, Whittredge, Avril-Tucker, and Van Eps will perform Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden,” one of the greatest romantic quartets of all time. Mr. Warsaw called it “Kang’s brainchild,” and said that the others “have found themselves powerfully drawn into its drama, passion, and complexity.”

Tonight at 7:00 p.m., the seniors in the chamber group will perform for their final time at Deerfield. The concert promises passion, talent and poise. Furthermore, it hopes to take another step in expanding the music department’s presence on campus.