Friday afternoon, our String Quintet assembled for a final rehearsal before the Friday night chamber concert. Our usual rehearsal space was occupied, but we were able to use the platform set up in the lobby of the Meyerhoff for the performance. The acoustics were very different from the vestibule area we had been using, and we were able to make some adjustments that would pay off big time in the performance.
In all, more than half of the Academy participants had signed up for Chamber, so 17 groups in all were performing on Friday night. There were string trios and quartets, flute trios, a double-reed quartet (three oboes and a bassoon) and a number of different combinations of brass. Our group was number 16 on the program, and I have to admit it was intimidating to play with nearly half of the professional orchestra members sitting in the audience! We played the Scherzo from Dvorak’s Op. 77 String Quintet in G — a piece that was not familiar to most of the orchestra musicians (not many string basses play chamber music!). I played 2nd violin on this piece (the part played by the woman in the gold dress in this YouTube video.) We acquitted ourselves well and toasted each other at the end.
The only part of the orchestra not represented in the Chamber experience was percussion, but they had performed for us at lunch earlier in the day. More than a dozen musicians beat drums, shook rattles, rang bells, played vibraphones, and even used a rain-stick on a piece called Rainforest Journey. They were great (MUCH better than this YouTube video of a high school band) and we asked them for an encore.
Many of the amateurs found the Chamber experience a particularly meaningful part of the Academy. Participating gave you extended one-on-one time with a symphony professional in your instrument, a small group to become very close to, and a piece of music that we could play just for fun. Our group certainly bonded, sharing several dinners together at neighborhood restaurants, and introducing each other to our spouses as they began showing up for the final concert.