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Lafayette String Quartet Outreach Events

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On April 4, 2011 the SACMS was fortunate to be able to present the Lafayette String Quartet in two Outreach Events. We started off with a fortifying and traditional breakfast for the quartet at San Antonio’s legendary El Mirador. Then Allyson Dawkins and Ken Bloom drove the quartet to Churchill High School where the quartet played and talked about some of the Elliott Carter String Quartet No. 3. The Carter work represents a landmark in modern string quartet writing that boggles the mind of most professional musicians. It was fascinating to watch the high school aged string students poring over the score of this very difficult work.

Later we all headed over to the Winston School for an afternoon concert. At this event the entire student body was ushered into the school gym where the concert was performed. After the concert which included some explanation, the students were able to interact with the musicians asking questions.

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins

Imani Winds Outreach Event

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On the Monday following their Nov. 14 SACMS concert, the Imani Winds presented an outreach program at Sam Houston High School.  After the group got on stage, four of the musicians went out into the aisles surrounding the 115-student audience and the bassoon player stayed on stage.  Without an introduction, the group played a stirring cannon that brought cheers from the students.  After this the flute, oboe, clarinet and French horn players came back to the stage and started a very interactive program with the students.  They discussed their instruments, their abilities and limitations and demonstrated what they could do.

In addition to the Sam Houston High students, there were students from the three middle schools that feed into Sam Houston.  The Imani Winds are all black and all graduated from public high schools before going to major music schools or conservatories.  We had heard the group on St. Paul Sunday on KPAC, where they stated that one of their goals was to show kids of color that they can succeed as professional musicians.

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During questions from the musicians, the students indicated that very few had heard any chamber music before, let alone a woodwind quintet.  The group played portions of several pieces either written for the Imani or commissioned by them, including a piece written by Imani flutist Valerie Coleman.  The students enthusiastically answered questions from the musicians and indicated that there was a good representation woodwind players in the audience.  Kathy Clay-Little wrote a complimentary column in the Express News on Nov. 19.  We worked with Mr. Bruce Adams, the Sam Houston Band Director in organizing the program.  We thank Kathleen Mansmann of SAISD for her help in coordinating the event.

Lee Trio Outreach Event

The Lee Trio presented an excellent educational concert for the orchestra class at NESA.  Some of the students in the class are composers, thus the first piece played was very welcome to their ears.  It was living composer Nathaniel Stookey’s piano trio which was commissioned by the Lee Trio.  The trio has three movements each of which is a musical depiction of one of the Lee Trio members’ Chinese name.  The students were a model audience –it was so quiet one could have heard a pin drop between movements.  After the concert one student confessed to me that he almost cried during the Stookey.  I found his comment to be honestly refreshing and also interesting since I too found the piece to have some quite sad moments.

Second on the program was a scherzo movement from a Mendelssohn trio – one of the mainstays of the piano trio repertoire – which the trio played impeccably at a scorchingly fast tempo.  They closed with the Primavera movement of Astor Piazzola’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.  First violinist, Lisa Lee, played delicious and atmospheric glissandi throughout this movement.


All three sisters – Lisa, Angela, and Melinda – answered questions from the students with openness and spontaneity.  There was an intense give and take during the Q&A which was inspiring to witness.

We thank the Lees from the bottom of our hearts for their gesture of generosity in providing this very memorable live educational concert!

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins – Chair, Education Committee

Lark Chamber Artists Outreach Event

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As the Lark Chamber Ensemble began setting up in the Reagan performing arts building, students watched with particular interest as Yousif Sheronick pulled out different percussion instruments. Orchestra and band students streamed in along with an economics teacher and his class. Yousif began the program by displaying what appeared to be a drum and describing how he had acquired it in Cairo, Egypt after a 2+ hour time of drinking tea with the shop owner and negotiating the price. Kathryn Lockwood, violist, introduced each Lark member and described what the audience would hear during Jennifer Higdon’s “An Exaltation of Larks for String Quartet”. Students had been scanning the October 4 SACMS concert programs distributed as they entered and seemed to realize that “different” music would be performed. The Lark played much of the October 4 program, albeit abbreviated. Before each piece was played, a member of the ensemble spoke to the audience about the composer and the music. When Kathryn told them about Daniel Roumain’s “String Quartet No. 5 ‘Parks’ “ also known as “Klap Ur Handz”, she explained that the Lark had commissioned the music in 2006. She asked for their help in placing Rosa Parks in historical perspective, noting that she had grown up in Australia. And then, just as she had done the previous day, she explained this was an interactive piece of music, with the audience needing to clap at many points during the music, albeit with her guidance. The students and teachers present definitely got into the music. Besides clapping during the Roumain work, the audience gave the Lark a rousing round of applause at the end of the concert.

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The Ensemble took questions—and asked questions—dealing with when members of the Lark started playing any instrument and their present instruments, how long they had played together, what instruments the students played, and whether any of them composed music. (Violins dominated and there were student composers.) As the musicians began packing up their instruments, several students came to the stage and spoke individually with them. It was clear that the Lark had touched many individuals in this student audience—a truly interactive concert! Board member Harvey Biskin and his wife, Bayla, enjoyed the concert and commented on the enthusiasm of the audience.

Nancy Taylor Shivers (Twice blessed to have heard the Lark on Sunday and Monday!)

Albers Trio Outreach Events

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The Albers Trio, brought to Providence by the San Antonio Music Chamber Music Society, performed for the middle school division and then toured the Najim Campus Center. Read about their experience at Providence by going to their blog. Of note, Eileen (Doyle) Lundin, Providence class of ’59 was their host. She is the Publicity Committee Chairman for the SA Music Chamber Society and enjoyed showing the trio her class picture while reminiscing about past Providence adventures. They enjoyed their visit to Providence and posted their thoughts on their website blog, as well as a great picture in hard hats which they got a kick out of. Check it out!

Aviv String Quartet Outreach Events

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On Monday, March 16, 2009, the San Antonio Chamber Music Society was privileged to present the Aviv String Quartet in two outreach events. In the morning the quartet played at the Jewish Community Center for both young children (including 3 year-old toddlers!) and senior citizens. Aviv played a light program including movements from quartets by Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Borodin, and Shostakovich. Quartet members each told a little about themselves and their instruments, and also answered questions from audience members both young and old. The toddlers enjoyed the event immensely. When their joy and exuberance became too enthusiastic, they were escorted through the back exit by their teachers. It was heartwarming to witness the warm interchange between the quartet members and the members of the Jewish Community Center.

The morning event was attended by board members Allyson Dawkins, Ruth Jean Gurwitz, Eileen Lundin, Ray McDonald, Joe Romo, Nancy Shivers, and Jan Van den Hende.

Being on a tight schedule, we whisked the quartet to Houston Street Bistro for a wonderful lunch attended by Allyson, Eileen, Nancy, Joe, and Jan. Then it was off to the Juvenile Detention Center.

We were met at the front door by our friend Chaplain Alvin Logan who escorted us to the gymnasium. The journey through the building itself is sobering. We have to wait between two locked doors of each chamber as we make our way through the labyrinth. Chaplain Logan has to lock and unlock sets of doors to keep us all together.

During lunch Sergey and I talked about varying the program at the JDC. I agreed with him that music with more tension would be appropriate. Once in the gym the quartet members took in the austerity of the room and all it symbolizes, and then quickly unpacked and prepared themselves mentally. Sergey was walking around the gym holding the microphone and mumbling to himself as he sought to find the perfect words to reach out to the incarcerated youths.

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The quartet chose to start this concert with the first movement of Beethoven’s Serioso Quartet which has a startling and aggressive opening. Before they played Sergey talked to the teens about how “classical” music can express emotions including anger and fear. I am always interested in the initial response of adolescents to this type of dramatic music. Many laughed and then looked at each other with a combination of embarrassment and amazement. Then, one by one, they were taken in by the compelling power of the music and settled down to watch and listen intently. Before playing the Borodin Nocturne, Sergey noted that music can also express love and more sensitive and comforting emotions.

The audience at the JDC was silent in response to the invitation to ask questions. Sergey seemed painfully aware of the extreme reticence of the adolescents. He persisted and relaxed them by asking them questions. Gradually they began to speak up. One boy asked if the quartet played music for a living or for a hobby. Sergey answered, in a sophisticated way, that classical music performance is the occupation that each musician in the group chose. And they are all dedicated to their work. They undertake their jobs with responsibility and commitment. But he also acknowledged that musicians have a passion and love of their art; thus, they love their work.

The afternoon concert was attended by board members Paul Casperson, Allyson, Joe, Nancy and Jan. We were also fortunate to have Nathaniel Wilson, Superintendent of the Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department Detention Center present. He thanked the Aviv Quartet and the SACMS for their generosity and commitment to education.

Usually after performing, musicians are invigorated and “revved up”. After this concert, the Aviv Quartet members were visibly exhausted and drained. They all poured every ounce of energy they had into making this concert meaningful. And so to reiterate, it was a privilege to present the Aviv Quartet in these events. By the end of the day we had all developed a closeness and camaraderie that elicited not handshakes, but hugs of farewell.

Thank you Sergey, Evgenia, Shuli, and Rachel for sharing a great day with us!

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins, Chair – Education Committee

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