Bringing new light to an old `star'

Preview

November 09, 2007|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,special to the sun

Generations of beginner musicians have played "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" in front of proud parents at their first concerts, but Sunday a quartet of skilled young violinists plan to give their audience a surprising and challenging version of the amateur recital staple.

The Sundays At Three concert series at Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia will feature four Howard County students performing Charles Dancla's Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman, which contains technically challenging, lively and surprising variations on the well-known children's tune.

The violin quartet is the first youth chamber group to perform in the classical concert series, and organizers say they hope to expand the opportunities for young musicians in the future.

Young people have always been welcome in the series' audience, and individuals younger than 18 are admitted free with an adult, said co-founder Ronald Mutchnik. "Now they get a chance to play," he said.

The inaugural youth quartet includes four of Mutchnik's violin students, all of whom have excelled in their school ensembles and in local and national groups and competitions. Nicole Liaw is a junior at River Hill High School, Ruth Choa is a sophomore at Centennial High School, Evangeline Chandran is in the seventh grade at Clarksville Middle School and Emily Park is a fifth-grader at Jeffers Hill Elementary School.

They are part of a larger ensemble of Mutchnik's students that played Joseph Hellmesberger's Romance for four violins and piano at a student recital this year. That piece is also on the program for Sunday's concert.

"It is exciting because I've done chamber groups before, but I've never done them in a big concert like Sundays At Three," said Liaw. "That's going to be a lot more audience than I'm used to. I'm a little nervous and also excited."

Liaw, who is concertmistress of the Howard County Regional High School Orchestra, said playing in a chamber group is fun because "people can hear you and how you interpret the music yourself."

The Sundays at Three program will also feature a string quartet made up of Mutchnik and Silva Botelini-Hernandez, both of whom are violinists with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, and two musicians from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra -- violist Peter Minkler and cellist Seth Low.

The Sundays At Three series often draws musicians from those professional organizations, Mutchnik said, but not usually a combination of the two. In this case, the players knew each other from their professional connections.

"We all respect each other, we enjoy each other's company as friends, and we thought why not finally join forces." The quartet will play Mozart's String Quartet in D, K. 575, and Schumann's String Quartet No. 1 in A minor.

The musicians also wanted to offer a tribute to recently deceased opera singers Beverly Sills and Luciano Pavarotti, so they will play the intermezzo from the opera Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni. Mutchnick said the piece is one of the most famous opera interludes and "represents all that is good and wonderful and beautiful in opera."

He said the operatic piece fits in well with the Mozart composition, which is "full of character and personality" and the stark contrasts of the Schumann work as well.

He said, "All of the pieces have very strong melodic appeal."

The concert will be held at Christ Episcopal Church, 6800 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for full-time students. Individuals younger than 18 who accompany an adult can attend for free. Information: www.SundaysAtThree.org.

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