The Music of Friends

Sunday evening my friend Maria and I attended one of the neatest gatherings in Nashville.  It was my second year to attend, her third, and I hope we can continue to make it an annual event for us.

Chamber Music Underground is presented by the Eastwood Ensemble, a group of musicians from East Nashville – many of whom are in the Nashville Symphony.  As you might be able to tell from the name, it’s an event that spreads mostly word of mouth (no advertisements were done in print form), and it features chamber music in its native habitat: the parlor of someone’s home.

Chamber music is composed for a small group of instruments, to be played in a chamber.  But how often do we get to enjoy it that way?  Usually we hear it in a large concert hall, on a large stage.  Instruments are far away, and there’s a wall of sorts between performer and listener.

Not in Chamber Music Underground.

On Sunday night, thirty or so of us gathered in a beautiful home in East Nashville.  Perched on chairs in the front parlor, we were an eager audience for the Eastwood Ensemble as they played for us, revealing in the pieces a depth of beauty found only in such an intimate setting.

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We began with my favorite– the cello.  Xiao-Fan Zhang, a cellist in the Nashville Symphony, played a beautiful pastoral piece from a Chinese composer (I wish I could remember the name of the piece or the composer), a piece by Liszt, and finished with one by Mendelssohn.  I love the cello, and being that close to it is so much better than hearing it in a concert hall.  You could feel it.  If I try to say more, I’ll just sound dumb.  It was incredible.

Then the violinist and bassoonist joined him, and we were treated to a beautiful piece featuring the bassoon.  How often are you that close to a bassoon? Probably never.  (It reminded me of Peter and the Wolf.  Not the piece itself, just hearing the bassoon.)

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I hope I don’t go to jail for this, but I did record a snippet… I titled it “bassoon trio,” but it wasn’t a trio of bassoons, just a trio that featured the bassoon.

Then we heard from the two clarinetists of the group (one of whom, Tia,  founded the Eastwood Ensemble), then a few pieces on violin & piano, then finished up the evening with the bass clarinet and a fun Schumann piece that took me back to my days playing the piano.

After the concert, everyone mills around, drinks wine, eats food, and talks.  My friend Jenny has provided her candy and granola bars every year, which is how we heard about this fancy secret event in the first place.  Her little hazelnut chocolate balls are pure bliss, and I may have eaten four of them tonight while typing this blog post.  May.

While small talk terrifies me, it is really nice to be able to talk to the musicians afterwards.  Xiao-Fan remembered us from the year before and came over to talk to us.  When I told him the cello was my favorite, he told us about a neat event the Nashville Symphony does that also includes wine and talking with the musicians.  So if we hit that up, I’ll make sure to blog about that, too.

I intended to blog about this event last year … so here are some shots from a year ago:

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Wikipedia says that chamber music has been described as “the music of friends,” because of its intimate nature.  If that’s the case, Chamber Music Underground is doing something right in Music City.

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2 thoughts on “The Music of Friends

  1. We (Blair music faculty) always do house concerts before our public chamber concerts at Blair, which we call a “warm-up concert.” It is ALWAYS better than the public one in the big hall, sitting in a stuffed chair with a glass of wine in a real chamber, for chamber music. 🙂 If anyone would like to hear my new cello piece (with harp) from our concert last week, it’s posted in streaming audio (no charge) at http://www.michaelkurek.com/Serenade.html (about 16 min. long). It says “Click here to listen to some of the piece,” but it’s actually the entire piece. It was cool to have Fr. Trudel there! He is a dead ringer for one of our faculty, so some students were laughing and asking him why he was dressed like that! When they found out he was not this faculty member, they went and got the faculty member, who happened to be there, and he came over and introduced himself to Fr. Trudel, and everyone was amazed, because they were truly evil twins (or we hope holy twins). Michael Kurek

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