This past Saturday, December 15th, 2007, the Fellows at Community MusicWorks and the resident ensemble, The Providence String Quartet, presented a concert at the Music Mansion that featured quartets by Schumann, Jobe and Dvorak. The Fellowship Program introduces and trains people from across the country in the work that has made CMW, through its music education and enrichment programs, such a vital presence in the community.
The Fellows began the evening with Robert Schumann’s String Quartet No. 1 in A Minor. It’s a well known work, noted for its lyricism and formal mastery, and their performance contained all the verve and assuredness of the seasoned players that they are.
A natural outgrowth of CMW’s mission is the Listen Local initiative—a commitment to Providence composers, whose works they have incorporated into their concert programming. This concert featured Steve Jobe’s Four Movements for String Quartet and Soprano, and featured Ellen Santaniello, soloist, and the Providence String Quartet. Repeated melodic phrases joined in the minimalist style, rising to culmination points, the voices coming together to give the occasional wisp of an unsettled tonal cadence before setting off again. The work gives a satisfying sense of continual propulsion
Old World composers have always enjoyed the jumbled influences that make up American music. We’re very lucky that Dvorak, one of the great composers of the nineteenth century, was one of them. Sometimes so much has been written about a particular work—in this case his opus 96, the “American” quartet—that it’s better to simply revel in a great performance of it like the one the Providence String Quartet gave this night. They played as if with a single voice, a singular quality that comes from a long collaboration, the kind of ensemble playing that develops as each member grows and matures, both by themselves and with one another.
One final mention: there was another ensemble present, the community. A palpable joyous spirit, no doubt ignited by the love of sharing music, was present in the room. The experience is quite unique, so consult the Community MusicWorks website to participate in upcoming events.
-Garrison Hull, local composer
[Editor’s note: view Channing Gray’s concert preview in The Providence Journal by clicking here.]