In partnership with the CBC, Memorial University’s School of Music launched the Memorial University Amateur Chamber Music Competition in 2011. The finalists will be featured on CBC Radio’s Musicraft on Sunday, Jan. 22 and Sunday, Jan. 29. Musicraft, hosted by Francesca Swann, showcases the musical life of Newfoundland and Labrador on CBC Radio 1 Sunday afternoons at 4:35 p.m. Island time (4:05 p.m. in Labrador) or on the web at cbc.ca/nl.
One of the elements that distinguishes Memorial’s School of Music is its emphasis on chamber music – the intimate musical “conversation” that takes place among a small group of musicians. Typically about a quarter of the School of Music’s student body participates in chamber music every semester.
“Chamber music is different from large-ensemble performance in two main ways," said Dr. Nathan Cook, chamber music co-ordinator. "There is typically no conductor for a chamber ensemble, and no part in the music is consistently doubled anywhere else.”
Dr. Cook, added: “I find that students’ listening skills improve drastically when they start doing chamber music. That’s probably because the student has sole responsibility for his or her own part and for how it interacts with the other parts in the piece. Students are forced to listen carefully as a result and to decide for themselves, usually on the fly, how to make adjustments to make it all work.”
Musicraft will feature the four groups that made it into the finals of the competition. On Sunday, Jan. 22, the show will profile the Paddywagon Trombone Quartet (Aaron Good, Aiden Hartery, Stephen Ivany and Jonathan Williams) and a piano quartet (Dominic Greene, Alex Cho, Ben Alstad and Lindsey Wareham). On Sunday, Jan. 29, the show will feature a guitar quartet (Elliot Butt, Marjin Companjen, Steve Hoskins and Andrew Noseworthy) and the winning piano trio made up of graduate students (Carole Bestvater, Rachel Gauntlett and Haeyoung Yoon).
"I'm thrilled to bring finals of the inaugural Memorial University Amateur Chamber Music Competition to CBC listeners across Newfoundland and Labrador on Musicraft,” said Ms. Swann. “The competition creates a conduit to showcase some of the excellent young ensembles that are using part of their time at Memorial to reap the rewards of playing chamber music and I'm hoping that CBC listeners will appreciate the results. I expected to hear standard chamber music repertoire by western Romantic composers, but one of the surprises was hearing brand new music written by student trombone player Aiden Hartery for his own group -- the Paddywagon Trombone Quartet."
The School of Music has a strong track record of producing fine chamber musicians. Alumnus violinist Angela Pickett is a member of Sybarite5, a New York-based string quintet that won the prestigious 2011 Concert Artists Guild competition. For Dr. Cook, the value of the competition is in the experience gained by so many students.
“Selecting only four groups for the finals was hard enough for the panel, but picking a winning ensemble was even tougher. In the end I was doubly happy that we had Francesca Swann working her magic at the CBC because all four groups, none of which was very far out of the running for a first-prize designation, get the feather in the cap not only of being finalists, but of having earned some CBC radio air time.”