15/16 Season Preview

We are excited to present our EIGHTH SEASON! We have new venues (you requested we find some bigger spaces!), new collaborators and our first commission! But we're keeping all your favorites too. We'll be back at The Chapel Venue and our ON TAP series will continue to partner with local service charities and taverns for unique community events. 


We open the season with an energetic program featuring harp, flute and strings bringing to life the spark that ignites when something new is created. This is our first event at Crave Coffee House which resides in a beautifully renovated church adjacent to the SLU South campus. Crave has become a vibrant community space and we look forward to filing it with music! 


We are thrilled to be collaborating with Cortango Orquesta to present a truly unique evening! Be ready to dance, or at least tap your toes, during this three part event. FREE beginner Tango lessons, followed by a concert of tango music when Chamber Project and Cortango join forces, followed by a traditional milonga (dance) with a DJ. Come to some, come to all, you don't want to miss this! 


We can't wait to hear what composer Christopher Stark creates for us for our first ever commissioned piece! This world premiere will be partnered with music for winds and piano by two of the most playful composers in history: Mozart and Poulenc. 


We collaborate for the first time with local favorite, Stella Markou, soprano, on this beautiful and haunting program. This program will be presented ON TAP at the Tavern of Fine Arts, and we make our first appearance on the beautiful stage at The Hettenhausen Center for the Arts at McKendree University. 


Heaven and earth intersect with this program highlighting Schubert's String Quintet, often regarded as the pinnacle of chamber music, composed to express the universality of the human condition. Stabat Mater for soprano and string quartet by Virgil Thomson compliments and rounds out the program. We return to The Chapel for this intimate and beautiful program. 



We close our season of original programing with a feisty program for flute, clarinet, harp and strings playing music from around the world. From the haunting beauty of French Impressionism, to Celtic sounds and a wild spin of gypsy music arranged by local composer Christian Woehr, this concert will lead you down a satisfying path! You have two chances to hear this program at The Chapel Venue and ON TAP at the Schlafly Tap Room.



Of course we finish it all off with our always popular CHOICE concert at The Chapel Venue! 

Interview with Kenji Bunch

We're excited to be playing the music of American composer Kenji Bunch this month. We got his CD Boiling Point and fell in love with the piece Drift and decided it fit perfectly on our DREAM program  Much to our surprise, when we got the music, it was not written out in traditional notation! We thought you might like to know more about how this works, so we've put together two blog posts about AUGENMUSIK (Eye Music).

Bob Chamberlin from Webster University is going to share a short history of Augenmusik, including links to recordings in our second post, but first, we're going to hear from Kenji Bunch himself. We contacted Kenji on Facebook and asked him a few questions about his creative process with Drift.       

Drift by Kenji Bunch. All images used with permission.  

What inspired you to write a graphic score?       As a performer, I've worked with a lot of graphic notation, from my years as violist in the Flux Quartet to my time as part of the performing composer collective Ne(x)tworks, a group that specialized in music of the New York School, the avant garde movement of John Cage and his contemporaries.  Writing graphic scores seemed a natural extension of this work.

What came first, the musical ideas or the desire to use this type of notation? What's the story behind this composition? 
I was commissioned by the Spoleto USA Festival to write a trio for clarinet, viola, and piano.  For whatever reason, at the time I was working on the project, my schedule only allowed me to sit down at my desk and get to work rather late at night.  After taking the necessary time to settle down and focus, so that I was actually ready to get good work done, I would be so tired that I'd literally be falling asleep while composing the piece.  I realized that some quality musical ideas were drifting away into my subconscious mind, and if I was able to recall any of them later that night or the next day, they wouldn't be exactly the same.  

Then it occurred to me that there was potential for some interesting exploration about this notion of memory and transformation.  In essence, the material in this piece develops not through the traditional compositional tools, but through the performer's ability to recall what he or she heard earlier in the work.  Any "mistakes" in this recollection would be embraced as development of the material.  And ultimately, the piece serves as a metaphor for the process of grief, which is really a confrontation and reconciliation with the idea that memories are inherently ephemeral, and can't be preserved without some kind of inevitable alteration.

The music literally Drifts away sometimes. 

 Did you experiment with and discard different ways of writing the same material? Did you rearrange the order of the material or movements?    I actually tried valiantly to write this piece using traditional notation.  This was a commission for very accomplished performers, but not necessarily for people who would be accustomed to performing off of drawings.  I was concerned the graphic score would be a distraction that could keep the piece from being taken seriously.  Ultimately, though, I realized it was really restricting me to write the necessary bar lines and rhythms, and it ended up looking way more complicated than it sounded.

Do you use this type of notation often?      I think my first graphic scores were back in 2002, when I was writing for a band called Nurse Kaya that I had with some friends.  I've used non traditional notations a number of times since then, but probably about 85% of my music is written the normal way.

What challenges does this type of notation present to you as the composer? What rewards does it offer you as the creator of this music that traditional notation doesn't offer?      First of all, we need to recognize that every form of notation, including the standard one in use for hundreds of years, is a graphic score.  Music written down in any fashion is a graph, depicting sound frequencies (pitch) over time.  There are other variables (dynamics, articulation, etc.), but all scores are expressions of a graph.  

With this in mind, it becomes possible to see that for certain techniques, traditional notation may not always be the best choice.  What I've found with pieces like "Drift" is that the notation, while at first kind of bewildering, actually makes it a lot easier for the performers to make music.  It enables listening rather than counting, and connecting and responding with each other, rather than trying to anticipate someone else's rhythms or assert your own.  It can be very freeing.  Especially in the case of this piece, which makes room for some gently guided improvisation for the three musicians. 

Check out Kenji's website >     (and buy some of his music!)

Isn't it interesting to learn about the process behind creating music? Which of the images are you most excited to hear? Do you think you'll be able to tell what we're playing in the concert? 


We discussed how long this passage should last in rehearsal a few times. In the end, it just happens the way it happens! 

Initially this page probably scared us the most. The first time we played it it was a disaster, but it's amazing how it always works out.

We'll be performing Drift three times in November: 

We've been selling out at The Chapel Series - don't wait to get your tickets! Advance pricing and online sales end at noon on day of concert.  buy tickets now > 

You asked for a matinee concert, and you got it! Join us in this beautiful sanctuary. Free will donation suggested.  view details >

A cozy venue for a great concert.  view details >


Meet Eliana

Our upcoming concert is titled "VOYAGE" because all of the pieces start somewhere and end up somewhere different. We thought it would be fun to learn about Voyages our musicians have taken so we asked them to share. Eliana Haig (viola) will be making her debut with Chamber Project next week. She's new to Saint Louis so take a moment and get to know her and her story! We'll have a few more stories coming soon.  Hi! My name is Eliana and I am very excited to be playing viola on the Voyage concerts for Chamber Project! I am a Saint Louis newbie, having just moved here with my fiance, Alex, in August. I currently teach about 22 private students (and growing) and freelance throughout the region.

Eliana and her beloved viola!

I decided on the viola in 3rd grade string orchestra through a process of elimination. I decided that 1) the violin was too high-pitched and annoying (upon working with many great violinists I have since changed my view) and 2) the cello was going to be a pain to carry around. The viola and I have been inseparable ever since. I love playing the middle voice and being in the center of the action.

I’ve been lucky that my viola playing has allowed me to enjoy many different parts of the world as well as many different musical experiences. I just moved to Saint Louis from Rochester, New York: I got my Master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music, then lived “downstate” (NYC area) for two years, then went back to Rochester, and now here. I grew up in Kentucky, but did my Bachelor’s degree in Wisconsin, so I’ve sort of lived a little bit of everywhere! My most interesting musical voyage, however, was the year I spent studying abroad in Austria.

Beethoven Monument in Vienna

Like many American students, I did a study abroad program for a semester, and chose Vienna as my destination. To non-musicians this may seem a bit random. Why not London or Paris or Berlin? But Vienna is actually a musician’s dream destination. Most of the composers we know best lived there, including Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, and Schumann. Arnold Schoenberg, the composer of Verklärte Nacht [which is on the upcoming concert], was born in Vienna and lived and worked there before being forced to emigrate when the Nazi party rose to power. {click here to watch a short video about Schoenberg in Vienna} I got to visit Beethoven’s apartment, explore an entire museum devoted to Mahler, and see a Bruckner Symphony with the same orchestra and the same hall where it was premiered. During my semester in Vienna, I also took lessons with a fantastic viola teacher, from whom I learned so much that I decided to stay the rest of the year.

This teacher actually taught full-time at a school in Graz, a small city in the southern part of Austria, so I enrolled there. I learned conversational German, though much of it I have forgotten. I played a lot of concerts, and met many people from all over the world. Being far away from home with only a passable command of the language was exciting, fascinating, confusing, and lonely, often all in the same day! Since I often think in musical terms, the best way I can think to describing my experience is that it was like learning a completely new piece of music for the first time.

Beginning to rehearse a new piece, while fun and exciting, is often disorienting. Even if I have listened to the piece with the score, hearing my part combined with the others for the first time feels like information overload. Especially when I’m preparing to perform piece of contemporary music, it takes a while to try to understand the “musical language” of the composer. Why do they want it to get louder there? What emotional or coloristic effect is he or she going for? Sometimes a new piece seems so “foreign” that I’m not even sure if certain markings in the score are clerical errors or intentional musical instructions. But much like the thrill of travelling, I love playing new music because it stretches me intellectually and forces me to try new ways of doing things - all in real time and while responding to the other musicians. That’s why live music is so much fun!

Much like a composer’s notes in the score, symbolic instructions can get lost in translation. This ambiguous sign, which I saw outside of public transit station in Graz, Austria, says “uneven surfaces”.

What does this mean?!

Be sure to say hi to Eliana at one of our upcoming concerts!

FEB 22, 7:00pm at The Saint Louis Art Museum Art After 5 series.Call 314-721-0072 to reserve your free tickets.

MARCH 1, 8:00pm at The Chapel Venue. $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Includes 2 drinks. Click here for advance ticket purchase.

Full Program PIAZZOLLA            L’histoire du Tango BERMEL                Soul Garden SCHOENBERG     Transfigured Night

Creating a MOSAIC

Our concert this week is called "MOSAIC". Every piece on the program is by an American, and each piece truly unique.  We're really excited about the blend of old and new on this program and the breathtaking variety of style. From traditional classical, modernist mastery, jazz, blues and folk - it's all in here! Learn a little more about the music from the musicians themselves in this post. October 19, 8:00 pm The Chapel Venue - tickets include 2 drinks. $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Online ticket purchase click here.

October 24, 7:30pm Chamber Music Series Danforth University Center, Washington University - in the Goldberg Formal Lounge free

MUSICIANS Jennifer Gartley, flute Dana Hotle, clarinet Adrianne Honnold, saxophone Elizabeth Ramos, violin Laura Reycraft, viola Stephanie Hunt, cello Christopher Haughey, bass

JOAN TOWER Petroushskates (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano)


Dana "I about fell out of my chair the first time I heard Petroushskates I loved it so much. It is so colorful and vibrant. Joan achieves these bright, shimmering, brilliant colors with just these 5 instruments, almost exactly the same colors the composer Stravinsky gets with a full orchestra. Stravinsky's famous ballet, Petroushka, is one of her sources of inspiration for this unique piece. The other source, figure skating, seems completely at odds with her first source: an iconic ballet by a Russian master, but somehow, she makes it work! I love the tension that these two seemingly unrelated ideas create in this short piece. I'm excited to finally play music by Joan Tower, one of the great American composers of the 20th Century, and one of the first female composers to really "make it". She was the Conductor in Residence at the St. Louis Symphony in the '80s, so she has this great St. Louis connection as well."

Jennifer "The Tower never lets up, I can never stop counting even for a second. In practicing this work, the rhythmic element is just so challenging, but the effect should be a mix of the ultra complicated coupled with a feeling of effortlessness... which doesn't completely make sense until you hear it."

AARON COPLAND Piano Variations (solo piano)


This is not your everyday piece of music. This is not your everyday composer. One of the most popular American composers of all time, you get to hear a side of Copland you may not have heard before in his Piano Variations (1930). This piece put him on the map as a very serious artist. This music is "ART" in the highest sense of the word. It falls into the category of "Modernism", which basically means a style of music in which a composer is trying to break out of the traditional ways of using melody, harmony and rhythm, often times failing to create anything lasting. But not Aaron, he succeeds brilliantly. This music is bracing and angular, representing the incredible changes in society in the early to mid 20th century. Think machines, technology, urbanism - expressed in a very elegant and concise vocabulary. We've rented a brand spanking new Yamaha Concert Grand piano for this concert, and Nina is going to show you everything it can do with the Copland!

MASON BATES Life of Birds (flute, clarinet, violin, cello)

Jennifer "I have been intrigued by Mason Bates for a few years and I first heard about him in his role with the New World Symphony in creating these really cool electronica/classical crossover concerts that were held in clubs late night. After a little bit of research, I found that he also composed acoustic works and this work just seemed to fit perfectly with our programming. I like his approach to narrative within a work, and even though flute players sometimes get a little tired of being compared to birds, this new approach by Bates really caught my interest. I can't wait to play this, it has been on my wish list for a couple of years."

Dana "Life of Birds is amazing. It's playful, jazzy, modern and soulful all at the same time. we had a blast rehearsing it at a Very Open Rehearsal at STLCC last week!"

Mason is on Facebook and Twitter (follow links to connect with him)


EVAN CHAMBERS  Come Down Heavy (violin, saxophone, piano)

Adrianne "Evan Chambers, the composer of Come Down Heavy, is a contemporary American composer and a traditional Irish fiddler. As you might imagine, he often unites the contemporary and the traditional in his music, and Come Down Heavy is no exception. The piece starts out with a blues-styled line in the saxophone part but quickly evolves into a more avant-garde imagining of the melody utilizing the extended range of the saxophone and rhythmic complexity in the ensemble as a whole. At one point the instruction to the performers in the score says "Cataclysmic", which I've never seen in a piece of music!

Throughout the first movement, the piece goes back and forth between these bluesy folk tune melodies and a more modern representation of those melodies. The second and third movements of the piece are more traditional, with the second movement featuring a beautiful melody performed by the fiddle and the third movement featuring the saxophone. Finally, the fourth movement, "Drill Ye Tarriers" employs different types of dance forms and ends with a frenzied flourish in the form of a tarantella. [a tarantella is an old Italian dance form that has to do with spiders, you can read about it here] Throughout the piece Chambers uses traditional Irish, Scottish and even Italian folk ideas, a nod to both his own heritage and to the varied heritage of America.  This piece can get pretty wild, but just keep listening! You're never far from another folk tune. "

GEORGE GERSHWIN "Someone to Watch Over Me" (saxophone, string quintet) An American Classic, sweetly arranged for sax and strings. Check out this beautiful rendition by the incredible Ella Fitzgerald. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYEeAOTIQ2c&feature=related]

This program is presented in partnership with The American Arts Experience, and partially funded by The Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.


"Art forms begin to die when they become bound by tradition rather than inspired by it; when they become deaf to the shout on the street; when they grow static as contemporary life gains speed and draws away; when they  become too refined, abstract and refuse to touch the ground." - Eddie Silva*

We couldn't agree more. This is why we started Chamber Project. As young passionate practitioners of an old and storied art form we feel its life, vitality, and tremendous energy. We want to share this with our community - for the people and for the art form itself. We want to let people in on the depth and breadth of the emotional, intellectual and even spiritual enjoyment that Classical Music has to offer.

In a time when we are bombarded with music everywhere - at the gas station, at the grocery store, from ring tones of the person behind us in line, it seems that our ears have become less attuned and less sensitive to music. How can we, as musicians, offer music to our audience in a fresh way?  In a way that doesn't just keep up with contemporary life, but becomes a part of it?

Inspired by the tradition of chamber music being performed in intimate social settings, we are experimenting with concert formats, and even more boldly with rehearsal formats. Opening the door for people to experience music in a personally relevant way is something we're passionate about. So next week we offer our second Very Open Rehearsal.

Roussel Pic

The V.O.R. is your chance to work with us as we explore music we are learning for an upcoming performance. Our first V.O.R in January was fantastic. The audience feedback during and after the event was incredible. There aren't really any rules - we play, we rehearse, and you ask any question that comes to mind (about the music that is), and we answer it. We get feedback about what we're doing in a truly useful way. In January, the audience helped us decide how slowly we should play the slow movement! You can watch a short video from the event at the end of this post. If you want to read a little more about what a V.O.R. is exactly you can read our post  A What? A VOR? from January.

On Wednesday March 14 Jen, Laura and Valentina will be having a Very Open Rehearsal of  Albert Roussel's Trio in preparation for our performance at The Wine Press on March 23.

Very Open Rehearsal Wednesday March 14, 7:00pm The Tavern of Fine Arts 313 Belt Avenue 63112 free/free parking all welcome

The Tavern of Fine Arts has new art on the walls this week- we can't wait to see it, we hear it's really amazing!

*Thanks to Eddie Silva, blogger for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for the inspiration for this post! The quote above was from "Celebrating The Ballets Russes" which I found in my SLSO program this weekend. You can read more of his writing on the SLSO blog. http://www.stlsymphony.org/blog/


Our Venues

One of our missions in Chamber Project is to perform chamber music in intimate, casual settings. This is the way this music is meant to be heard--up close and personal. We regularly play in two venues that are perfect for this. Each has its own personality. Both venues are located in neighborhoods surrounding Forest Park.

THE CHAPEL: a sanctuary for the arts

The Chapel is an incredible venue, and is truly "a sanctuary for the arts". The members of Memorial Presbyterian Church decided that their old, small, unused chapel should be, well, USED for something. Lucky for us, they turned it into a performing space, attached to an art gallery. The space was renovated beautifully - it has this fantastic gothic plus modern look. The acoustics are great, with the stunning peaked roof allowing for plenty of room for the sound to blend and project.  We musicians get to use the space for free, and keep 100% of the door. Additionally, the venue provides two free beverages to our audience, as well as volunteers to run the bar and the door. This venue is an incredible gift to our community! The vibe at The Chapel is casual, yet elegant. As our community of music lovers grows, we see them get to know each other and catch up at intermission and after the concert. This has been our "home base" since 2009.

location: 6238 Alexander Dr. St. Louis Missouri 63115  GOOGLE MAP IT website: www.chapelvenue.com parking: free and plentiful on neighborhood streets. Avoid blocking driveways please.

Jen and Laura at The Chapel


The Tavern is a relatively new performing space in St. Louis. The owners are both musicians and true "foodies". They've put their passions for music, art, and great food into one place. The Tavern is divided into two rooms, one with a bar and seating area, the other with a grand piano on a stage, and more seating, including a living room area near the back. The walls around the venue are adorned with local artists' work. This space blurs the line between performer and audience in a way we've never experienced. The audience members sitting in the front row are basically on stage with the musicians. There is no 'green room', no elevated stage, simply a front of the room where we set up, so the musicians are in the audience as soon as they are done performing. The vibe is energetic and the audience is a great mix of people from the neighborhood, music fans, artists and students!  The wine list is unique and amazing, each bottle hand picked by the owners.  You can choose a great glass, nibble on some food and enjoy great music and atmosphere in this venue.   Space is limited - at 45 people, we're at standing room - so come early!

location: 313 Belt Avenue 63112 MAP website: www.tavern-of-fine-arts.com parking: free and plentiful on streets or in lot across the street from The Tavern on Belt.


CPSTL @ The TAvern 11-4-11





bringing down the wall

posted by Dana One of the reasons we began Chamber Project is that we passionately believe Classical Music can be enjoyed by anyone. We felt we could find a way to break down some of the imaginary boundaries that isolate Classical Music from popular culture. To bust the myth that you have to have some secret knowledge or privilege to understand and enjoy Classical Music. We love it, and we're just people like everyone else! Music is Music - it's all made of the same stuff. It's available to anyone, and we're striving to develop a concert format that opens the door to anyone willing to give it a chance and walk in. We think we've found a pretty good presentation that's inviting and fun, and we're always thinking about how we can go further.

This past week, we presented our program, Stings Attached, Thursday and Friday nights.  In both concerts, I felt that we accomplished our mission of opening up the joy of live music for our audience. I began the evening by putting a frame around the music we were presenting - providing context for the audience to build their listening experience on. We do this for all of our concerts. For this program it turned out that the best way to talk about this music was through a mini history lesson about how through time, the way people value personal self expression and dramatic emotional energy in music has changed. Some Eras like the drama, others don't.

I could feel the rapt attention of the audience (as performers, we have a strange 6th sense about how the audience is feeling). Both nights, they loved getting this information. I could feel the energy, I could see it in their faces as I spoke. They were eager for this information, and as the music started, the energy carried through.

At intermission, we mingled with our audience. At The Chapel I had a great conversation with an amateur clarinetist about pieces for clarinet, and he tipped me off to a composer I should look into.  At The Tavern I continued a conversation that had started before the concert began with a table who had been in for dinner as I was warming up. As it turns out, our mothers both played clarinet in high school! I handed out ballots to all of the tables at The Tavern at intermission, making contact with pretty much every person in attendance. This was a very happy surprise for me, and I plan on doing it again!

For us, conversing with our audience is just as rewarding as performing for them. Our audience is getting the hang of this too - it's not everyday someone walks off stage and right up to you and asks you if you're having a good time! It gives them an opportunity to ask questions about the music, about the instruments, about us. And we get to ask them what they think of the music, what brings them to a concert, what is their relationship with music, what is their story?

We are going to continue to come up with fun and new ways to connect with our audience! We hope you will be there! We play a 30 minute set at the Women in the Arts Conference on Saturday November 12 at 2:30 on the UMSL campus. It's free and we are in the JC Penny Conference Center. Our program will be a reprise of last years 'Superwomen Explored", a program of music composed by women.

We hope to see you there!

Inside Scoop on Strings Attached

posted by CPSTL. 

This week we perform our program we're calling Strings Attached. If you've been to our concerts, you know that we don't print stuffy academic program notes for you to read while listening to the concert. We don't want you to feel like you need to multi task - we want you to sit back, relax and enjoy the show.  We get up and talk to our audience about the music, giving them information that enhances their listening experience, then we play the music. We started this blog because we know our audience is curious to know more about us and about music. So we thought we'd start a new approach to program notes that will give you some insight into the musicians mind!

We asked our musicians some questions about the music in this program, and compiled their answers to give you insight into how we feel about the music, and why we're so excited to play it for you this week.

Occasionally, we musicians use musical words to describe music that no one but musicians understand, but we forget this and use them anyway.  As the words come up, they've been underlined and there is a little tiny dictionary at the bottom you can reference if you wish. We also use the last name of the composer to identify the piece we're talking about.

musicians Hannah Frey, Violin Laura Reycraft, viola Valentina Takova, cello Jennifer Gartley, flute Dana Hotle, clarinet Nina Ferrigno, piano

program Trio for Flute, Viola & Cello by Albert Roussel Sonate for Flute, Clarinet & Piano by Maurice Emmanuel Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat Major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (violin, viola, cello, piano)

Musicians warming up

NINA    "As I head into this exciting week of concerts with Chamber Project, I've been thinking a lot about the Mozart E-flat Quartet that ends the program.  It is a piece I have played before although not for a number of years.  Actually, not since the summer after I graduated from high school when I was seventeen!  My music is a kind of time capsule of fingerings, phrase marks, dynamics and instructions which compel me to remember my past experiences with this great piece.  At one point in my music the cryptic mark of simply 'Donna' appears encouraging me to remember a friend who was such a part of that experience and, apparently someone I needed to watch for a cue!!  It has been really fun revisiting that time, but also great to discover just how differently I perceive this piece now.  Even before Chamber Project rehearsed for the first time, I was busy erasing most of the markings from long ago.  I just don't move my hands in the same way or hear these Mozartian phrases in the same way.  This piece seems so much more joyfully personality driven than it did years ago to an earnest 17 -year old about to start a career in music.  I hope you enjoy these performances as much we will enjoy playing them!"

What is your favorite piece on the program to play?

LAURA    “Mozart is fun to play and has a sunny and not too serious character. I like the Roussel more and more as we rehearse it, the tunefulness is becoming more apparent to me.”
VALENTINA  “I perform on two pieces on the program. Both are very different and interesting in their own way. The Roussel Trio is getting more and more interesting as we untangle all the strange and unusual voice leading and harmonic progressions. I am starting to realize that everything on the page makes a lot of sense, even though for a first time listener it might be a bit abstract. The Mozart Quartet on the other hand is purely enjoyable for the players and listeners alike. The music is light, beautiful and accessible. I hope everyone has a wonderful time at our concerts this week.”
DANA    “I only play on one piece in this program, but I am really excited to hear the Mozart. I caught a little of the rehearsal yesterday and it sounded great. I love the way Mozart writes for piano in chamber music, and I love hearing Nina play Mozart -so this is going to be good!”
HANNAH   "Mozart:  Of course I love Mozart.  I always love playing Mozart.  He is a genius, and one of my favorite composers to play.  When you play with piano, intonation is easier, because the piano is always right.  No arguments."
Is there a ‘magical moment’ for you in this music?

LAURA  “I really love my part in the coda of the 3rd movement of Mozart.  It is so joyful and carefree at that moment.”

DANA   “The second movement of the Emmanuel is so interesting, the way there is this ominous "boom boom" in the low piano, and these slow melodies weave around, talking to each other, with the 'boom boom' randomly pulsing underneath. It's erie and strange and really cool. Nina thinks it's just way too weird, but I like it.”

Does any of this music tell a specific story for you?

DANA    “All music can tell a story, but one that came to me right away when I listened to it was in the first movement of the Emmanuel. It sounds like a beautiful dream, cheerful, everything is going fine, and then, out of nowhere these weird harmonies surface to remind you that this is really a dream, surreal like a dream.  Some of the stories I've learned about how the pieces were written are very interesting. Mozart was commissioned to write three piano quartets by a famous music publisher (we are playing the second one). After the publisher got the first one, rumor has it that he hated it so much that he paid Mozart to NOT write the second one! Perhaps Mozart had already written the second one, we don't really know, but we have it, and it's fantastic. It's too bad he never wrote the third. I have to say the the second one is a bit nicer than the first. It's also really interesting that Roussel wrote his Trio in 15 days. I'm pretty sure the collective practice time of the three people playing it this week greatly exceeds that. It's hard!”

JEN  "The third movement of the Roussel could be described as a "rondo," which means the same theme keeps returning over and over again.  But in this case, it seems like the rondo theme keeps getting lost and then all of a sudden it will appear out of nowhere, and you will know where you are musically."
What is the most challenging aspect of this program for you?
LAURA   “The Roussel. He writes in a difficult register for the viola in several passages, and their are many dissonances which are hard to tune.  I began preparing the Roussel about a month ago.”
VALENTINA    “The Roussel Trio has some tough passages for cello. I have a couple of really high solos and it has been fun trying to figure out the intervals and the harmony. I do like the challenge very much.”

JEN   "I am honestly more attracted to super passionate music and people and subtlety is sometimes not my strong point.  But I HATE movies like "The Notebook" that are emotionally manipulative intentionally.... so the restraint of this program is a nice challenge to both sides of my personality. The Roussel is a tough piece, the harmonies take awhile to fit into your ear and it is a surprisingly complicated piece of music, all of the parts are very intricate and are woven together meticulously.  If you miss even the slightest tie, it throws off the entire rhythmic continuity."

We hope you enjoyed hearing a little of what we think and feel about this music! Is there something else you want to know? Just ask! We'll share more insight to the music and the composers in our concerts, We hope to see you there! www.chamberprojectstl.com for more info!
MiniMusicDictionary harmony: two or more notes sounding at the same time. Some combinations are common, others are not. dissonance: a type of harmony where the notes sounding together produce a ‘crunchy’ or ‘disagreeable’ sound. Usually defined as ‘unstable’ harmonies in music lingo. Traditionally followed by consonant, or pleasant and stable harmonies. harmonic progressions: Also known as chord progressions. The order in which harmonies are played (e.i. dissonance followed by consonance). There are very standard progressions that you have heard thousands of times. In classical music, creating unusual and effective chord progressions is a huge part of the music. voice leading: describes the way in which individual parts or 'voices' interact, creating and embellishing the progression from one chord to another. interval: The distance between two notes.
intonation: playing in tune
tie: an aspect of rhythm, when two notes are 'added' together. coda: A musical epilogue of sorts. The ending section of a movement.
Did we leave something out? Just ask! There are no stupid questions!

Musicians tuning

Getting To Know Us

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you” is the song that is running through my head right now.  I am a fan of musicals, and this song is from “The King and I”, but I’m not usually one to walk around all day singing show tunes.  Sometimes songs that are appropriate for certain situations just seem to pop into my head.  What can I say…guess I’m a music nerd. So…our first few blog posts are going to be about you getting to know us—the musicians of Chamber Project St. Louis—on a more personal level.  Last week Dana posted our first blog entry entitled “Do What You Love."  Now it’s my turn!

I come from a big family.  I only have two older sisters, but my Dad was the eighth of nine children and my Mom was the third of seven children, so I have a few cousins to say the least.  During my childhood, holidays were spent driving around to the different family get-togethers where there would be anywhere from twenty people to one hundred people.  I fondly remember watching my uncles and cousins play football out in the yard on Thanksgiving Day throughout the years.  When you’re from a small town there’s not much to do besides engage in some type of athletic activity, so that’s what we did.  And that’s what I’d like to share with you now…my dirty little secret…I was a JOCK.

It started with T-ball when I was six years old.  I moved on to fast pitch softball later in middle school and continued in high school.  My Dad bought me my first set of golf clubs when I was eight (but I actually started playing before that).  I started playing basketball when I was ten or so, probably the same time that I started playing the saxophone.  I ran track in the seventh and eighth grades; hurdles and the high jump were my specialties.  In high school I played golf all four years, softball for three years, and basketball for one year.  As my high school years progressed I started dropping the sports and focusing more on what I hoped my career would be—music.

7th grade basketball1
7th grade basketball1

By the time I was in junior high I knew that I wanted to study music in college, but that certainly didn’t keep me from my love for sports.

8th grade basketball1
8th grade basketball1
Softball 1990
Softball 1990
Golf newspaper clipping
Golf newspaper clipping

Finally, as high school came to an end, I had a choice to make.  Accept the full scholarship to play golf at a small private college in northern Illinois with a tiny music department, or forego golf altogether and attend the University of Illinois to study music.  I chose the latter.

It wasn’t until I went to college that I realized the connection between music and sports.  Mentally, they’re the same.  Taking auditions, trying out for the basketball team, same.  Performing under pressure, same.  Physically and emotionally draining?  Yes and yes.  Challenging and rewarding at the same time?  Definitely.

Once my saxophone professor in college found out that I had been an athlete in high school, she began making analogies in my lessons that made so much sense to me.  Why hadn’t I thought of this before?!  Michael Jordan tried out and didn’t make the varsity basketball team.  Did he give up or stop practicing?!  NO!  Tiger Woods doesn’t just hit a few shots until he hits a good one, he hits thousands of practice shots a day!  And this brings me to one of my favorite sports/music adages:

Don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong.

college golf shot
college golf shot

I may not play sports competitively anymore, but I still get to enjoy golf with my family.  I love playing golf with my Dad.

Dad, Carolyn, and I golfing
Dad, Carolyn, and I golfing

I also loved playing golf with my Grandma.  This is one of my favorite photos of her.

Grandma getting ready to golf
Grandma getting ready to golf

Music, golf, time with family…to borrow from Dana’s blog…”Do What You Love.”

Also...coming soon to a Chamber Project St. Louis blog near you....what is classical saxophone and why should I care?!

Do what you love.

In this blog we're going to tell you about music, why we do it, why we love it, and also tell you about ourselves a bit. This post is by our Clarinetist and one of the Artistic Directors, Dana Hotle. _____________________________________________________________________

"It's so great you get to do what you love!" A statement I hear over and over again when people I meet find out I'm a musician. Often accompanied by a quickly masked look of confusion as they try to figure out what a clarinet is. I appreciate their enthusiasm for my job, and often wonder what it is that they love that they are not doing, but that's a story for another blog. I smile, I nod, I try to match their enthusiasm for me doing what I love. I do love being a musician. I love music. I love talking about music, learning about music.  I love all of the different "hats" I get to wear. I love the people I work with. Mostly, I love making music with people. I love the layers and depth of relationship you develop by rehearsing and performing music with people. I love making people happy by performing for them. I love that people love that I love what I do. But music was not my first love. No, not at all. Not even close. My first love, was horses. Horses, horses, horses everywhere as a kid. Drawing horses, reading every horse book ever written. Horse stuffed animals, posters, figurines.  My mom finally caved, and took me to my first riding lesson.

Riding at age 8

She says she hoped I would hate it, or be scared, and never want to go back. Of course, that is not what happened and she started shelling out for riding lessons about the same time she put me in piano lessons.

I was unbelievably lucky that I had a grandfather that loved horses too, and he had some land, and somehow we ended up with two adorable Shetland Ponies. Every little girl's dream, come true!

Me on Marmaduke. Callaway County Mo. Late 80's

Dana and Ponies

These ponies, best friends, became legendary in the family. Marmaduke was as sweet as a puppy and would've followed us into the house if we'd let her. Patches was ornery and sometimes mean. I loved them both. Eventually, when I rode the ponies, they had six legs as mine were touching the ground. They got passed on to another lucky little girl, and grandpa bought a full sized horse! He bred the mare and gave me the colt. My very own horse.

Dana riding her horse with colt at side

Carrie, Me, Horses

Meanwhile, I had started clarinet in the band, played the oboe for a year, then back to the clarinet. Started doing all the "band geek" things in high school with my friends. (Keep following this blog, you will see me in a marching band uniform, I promise ;-)  I Fell in love with Beethoven, Schostakovich, and this St. Louis Symphony recording of American music I can't find or even name (Susan Slaughter at her best.) And it was good. Music was fine. I enjoyed practicing, but really, my heart was with the horses. Eventually I decided that clarinets were less expensive to feed than horses, and I'd better make a choice. So I did.  And it was a good choice. I do love what I do.

But always, when people exclaim, "You're SO LUCKY, you get to do what you love!", some little part of me is thinking, "Yeah . . . but really, really I want to be on a horse; swaying to and fro with its gentle walk,  in the woods with the sun rising, the early morning mist evaporating, the bugs lazily buzzing around us . . ."