Friday, October 7, 2016

Lincoln's Own Chiara String Quartet: Sharing their Hearts

On Thursday, October 6th, the Chiara String Quartet once again wowed and wooed their audience. Their performance, mostly performed from memory, expressed a whole range of emotions, from the humor and playfulness of Britten’s Three Divertimenti to the sobbing of the violin in Beethoven’s String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 130. 

L-R: Rebecca Fischer, Jonah Sirota,
Hyeyung Julie Yoon, Gregory Beaver
photo credit: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco
The Chiara has the ability to reach out across the stage and pull the audience into the music. Despite the big space they performed in, the Chiara made the experience one that felt true to chamber music: “music composed for the home… it is intimate music.” The performers make playing in an ensemble and playing from memory look effortless—flawless timing and musicality that makes you forget that they’re even playing without music in front of them. Of course, playing from memory and not relying on the music is exactly what gives them the freedom to express and communicate with each other and the audience in a way not otherwise possible. In fact, the instruments become an extension of their bodies, every part of their body conveying the emotions, gestures, and music: sharing what is in their hearts through these great works.

Besides phenomenal musicality, the Chiara draws audiences in by giving them notes of what to listen for from their own deep understanding of the pieces they perform, either with spoken listening tips or written program notes as at this performance, they give you a glimpse of what they found to love in each piece—and therefore, even for those who are not musicians, there is an understanding and appreciation born for the works at each concert.

The Britten piece might not sound like what people associate with “classical music,” which to many still connotes “boring” or “pretty background music”… instead, it is full of “breezy charm,” (as stated in the program notes,) and the harmonies, rhythms, and musical gestures grab the listeners attention especially as performed, memorized, by the always engaging Rebecca Fischer, Hyeyung Julie Yoon, Jonah Sirota, and Gregory Beaver.

The String Quartet in A minor, Op. 29 by Schubert had a great deal more of the sounds and form that people associate with the idea of classical music, but the program notes pointed out the connections of this piece with the art-songs that Schubert is perhaps most famous for, and the audience could hear the first violin singing a lyrical line and listen as the “contrasting material in the movement [that is] much more instrumental in nature…takes turns throughout the group, ultimateely beating out the lyrical material to finish the [first] movement. The lyrical voice loses the battle but wins the war, as the rest of the piece is significantly more vocal in character.” (Jonah Sirota's program notes)

The last half of the program featured a piece that Sirota described as a “hallowed” work, closely related to the work and reason that he decided to devote his career and his life to being in a string quartet. Beethoven’s String Quartet in B-flat Major was written for the future—a work seen as perhaps being written by a crazed man, it instead is a brilliant and timeless piece performed by the Chiara “by heart,” memorized and as one, they won a truly well-deserved standing ovation at the close.

The Chiara String Quartet is based in Lincoln, Nebraska, and yet it is easy to see with a simple search how wide their audience and acclaim reaches like a NY Times article or various news pieces highlighting their performances in many places. Lincolnites: if you didn’t come to their performance last night, you are missing an incredible experience. Save the dates now for the rest of the Hixson-Lied Concert Series in Kimball Recital Hall all at 7:30pm: Tuesday, November 29, 2016, Wednesday, February 1, 2017, Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Tickets and more information:

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