Student Quartet Plays Music from the Heart

Rachel Breitweser ’03

March 1, 2017

Students of a string quartet group performed a movement from Mozart’s String Quartet No. 14 in G Major after five months of studying the piece. The quartet consists of two violinists, a violist and a cellist. They work on one piece each semester and meet with their chamber music coach, Maile Reeves once a week as well as rehearse on their own.

Experience the students’ performance in 360 degrees.

In addition to technique, students work on the art of the performance. “We focus on musicality, dynamics and communication among ourselves,” said quartet violinist Jou ‘18, who enjoyed the dedication to perfecting the piece.

Musicality is about feeling. Chris ‘17, who is also a violinist in the quartet, explained it this way: “Jou could play ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,’ for example, but he could make it scary or make it sound sad.”

Communication among the members is subtle. “It’s eye contact, breathing and body movement. It’s a signal to the other people, like a cue, to all use the same part of bow, for instance,” Jou shared. It’s also crucial in keeping the group together. “It’s like carrying an egg: You can’t drop that melody; you have to hand it over seamlessly,” Chris said. “It’s impressive when it works.”

His first year playing in a quartet, Chris also marveled at the “how clear and precise the sound becomes” when paring down an entire symphony to only four instruments. He also enjoys the personal nature of playing with a close-knit group.

“You’re the only one playing the part so you have to nail it. You want to play your best,” Jou said.

While playing in a quartet may seem intimidating, it’s not so bad. “We laugh!” said Chris. “Everything is scary before you try it so don’t stick a label on it. Maybe you will find something new that’s fun.”

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