DeBlogs > Ruth Hogle > String Chamber Music

String Chamber Music

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As my last few weeks of DePaul are quickly passing by, I have a couple more performances to look forward to. This week, I will be performing with the DePaul Symphony Orchestra in Symphony Center for the final time. The week after that, I will be performing in the string chamber showcase with my quartet, which will officially be my last performance at DePaul University. In honor of my final performance being one in a chamber group, I will talk about my chamber experience here and how that has been one of my favorite things about being a music student at DePaul.


For my first quarter of freshman year, I signed up for chamber music, remembering how much I enjoyed performing in smaller ensembles in high school. There ended up being shortage of cellists that year, and I ended up being placed in a string quartet with three graduate students that first quarter. Graduate students! It was a huge learning opportunity for me and was also incredibly overwhelming. To think that I am still younger than those players were when they played with me is pretty amusing to me. It was really great to work with such advanced, dedicated musicians, even though it was terrifying as a little freshman.


After that quarter, I played in a handful of other traditional string quartets, multiple trios and quintets with clarinetists, a trio with violin and piano, and I am now in a cello quartet (with two cellos, violin, and viola).


Something that I have learned from my experiences is that each group has its own personality and way of doing things. I have been in some intense groups that dedicate a lot of time and focus to the group. I've sat down with chamber groups for the first time, and we have all already listened to the piece and practiced our parts. I have also been in groups where we are still sight reading the piece in our coachings (oops!)! I have worked with people who have very particular ways of rehearsing and essentially run our rehearsals. I've also been part of groups in which we are all very casual and each have musical ideas to say and opinions to share, amidst the jokes and catching up about life.


In addition to that, who you have as a coach makes a difference. I have greatly enjoyed having coaches who play different instruments than I do. I have been coached by multiple clarinetists, pianists, violinists, and cellists. Each coach has their own way of doing things. Some have us run a movement each time we meet (which is usually every week for an hour) and make notes in their score for us to read later. Others have us go section by section and break everything down in a meticulous manner. Some coaches really emphasize the musicality and communication of the ensemble, and others let that be understood and work on the balance and technical aspects of playing together. Each time, I have learned something more about the music I am playing and how to be a successful performer in a group.


I spent two quarters in the same piano, violin, cello trio last year, which was the first time I stayed with the same group, and that was an extremely valuable experience for me. While I love having the opportunity to play with so many different people, having a sense of comfort with one another really brought our collective music-making abilities to the next level. We were also playing one of my favorite pieces, the Brahms Trio No. 1, Op. 8 in B Major. So gorgeous!


My chamber group this quarter has been one of the most enjoyable, as I am good friends with everyone in the group and enjoy working with them. We are able to have fun during rehearsal and be productive, since we all have a good amount of chamber experience. I am very excited to perform in the DePaul Concert Hall with them in a couple weeks for the string chamber showcase!


And my favorite part of performing with chamber groups? Getting to dress up in something other than my black pants and top that I wear for orchestra concerts!! It's always enjoyable to coordinate and get creative with different colors, as I believe the visual presentation is also very important in a performance. So that is something I've already carefully thought about for my final performance at DePaul!