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Brentano String Quartet at the Juvenile Detention Center on October 8th, 2018

On October 8th the San Antonio Chamber Music Society sponsored their third outreach event at the Juvenile Detention Center. It is always interesting to attend an event at this facility.  The staff that cares for the youth at the center focuses on education, not punishment.  The Brentano String Quartet members commented that the behavior and attention of these students was above average for any given group of students.

Audience members were treated to music by Haydn, Purcell, Bartok, Dvorak, and Mendelssohn.  Violinist Serena Canin beautifully described the Purcell movement which depicts love, loss, and sorrow – then she summed up as she tapped her heart, by saying “all of those things…” Serena’s comment left me rather breathless.

The second movement of the Bartok second quartet was the piece that really drew them in.  Violinist, Mark Steinberg introduced the work explaining how Bartok gathered much of his musical material for compositions in the small villages of Hungary.  In this work, Bartok was imitating tribal and ritual drumming.  Students visibly became more engaged during this music.

Those of us observing the concert could see how the students’ demeanor changed from arriving with slumped shoulders, to sitting up a little straighter (and in awe) during the Bartok, to all out toe-tapping during the Mendelssohn quartet movement which concluded the program.

Towards the end of the concert, one girl asked violist Misha Amory “Why are you here?”  His response was “We were invited.”  She seemed in disbelief.  So, he emphasized that “yes, we were invited and of course we accepted.”

At the end of the program cellist Nina Lee spontaneously told the students how happy the quartet was to have been able to spend the morning with them and share their music. One girl shouted out “if you played like that in court I would confess to everything!”

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins

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