Marching to a smaller tune: BUHS band musicians play chamber concert

Thursday January 10, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- The Brattleboro Union High School music department will present an evening of instrumental chamber music on Friday at New England Youth Theatre, 100 Flat St.

The first half of the concert will begin at 6 p.m. and the second half at 7:30 p.m. An admission fee of $2 will be charged and will apply to both halves of the concert. A food sale at intermission will benefit the NEYT scholarship fund.

Featured in the concert will be 16 chamber ensembles, including groups such as saxophone quartets, clarinet and flute trios, percussion quintets, brass quartets and a mixed woodwind quartet. Music will span from the Baroque era through contemporary classical and ragtime music.

Each year, the B.U.H.S. band curriculum includes a unit on chamber music. According to Stephen Rice, director of B.U.H.S bands, "My students spend most of the year playing in a very large ensemble. It is easy for them to feel lost in the crowd in a band of 65. In chamber ensembles, my students are given the opportunity to carry a part all by themselves and to play in a more transparent setting. Each student really has a chance to shine."

Just as important is the responsibility that comes from being in a small group. "There is no place to hide when you play chamber music. Students have to take greater ownership of the level of their individual performance and are accountable in a different way than they are in band."

A final selling point from Rice’s perspective is the way that the students have to cooperate to make their pieces work, from solving ensemble problems to crafting an expressive performance. "Much of the work they do is independent. They can’t rely on the teacher to fix problems and tell them how to make music. As a result, they become far more self-reliant musicians."

While much of their work is independent, Rice has enlisted the help of some local musicians to coach the ensembles, some of whom are BUHS Band alumni. In addition to B.U.H.S. and B.A.M.S. music teachers, Patty Meyer and Tom Nasiatka, ensemble coaches have included Riley Goodemote (BUHS 2009), Ben Gartenstein (BUHS 2010), Michelle Liechti, Kathy Andrew, Fleur Barnes, Erin Lesser, Greg Beyer and Chris Rymes.

This marks the third year a B.U.H.S. concert has been presented at New England Youth Theatre. The size and location of the performance space appeals to Rice and it has been an excellent venue in the past. "NEYT provides us with a more intimate space for this concert. Chamber music is not intended for large concert halls. We are fortunate and very grateful to Jerry Stockman, Rebecca Waxman, Stephen Stearns and the entire NEYT staff for agreeing to host us again."

For more information, call 802-451-3511.


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