The Kiosk isn’t the only campus staple moving to the Bridge Building. As the college pushes for interaction between the arts and sciences, the annual chamber music concert series, “Music on the Bridge,” will now take place in the new science building. The series, previously called “Notes on Art,” was located in the Loeb.
Director of Orchestral Activities Eduardo Navega explained, “Up until last year, we used to do this series of lunchtime concerts in the Loeb in the spring. This year, we went, ‘hmmm there’s a nice bridge building next door,’ and we decided to move it there.”
The series of performances will take place at 12 p.m. every Wednesday in April.
One of the performing students in the Chamber Music Program, Ivan Soler ’18, is excited to celebrate the new building with music. “I think that using the Bridge Building as a venue for a concert is simply another good opportunity to advertise the newly-built space to Vassar faculty and students and even to the general public.”
Another performer, Elena Schultz ’19 [Full Disclosure: Elena is a staff writer for the Miscellany News] recognized how holding the concert in the building helps make the space multidisciplinary. She explained, “As a liberal arts school, this campus is already all about mixing disciplines, so having the opportunity to listen to chamber music in a laboratory sciences building is very indicative of Vassar’s multidisciplinary approach to things.”
But, performing in any new space poses challenges for musicians. According to another performer, Jaylin Remensperger ’17, “Every space has different acoustics, so your instrument will sound different in each one. When practicing in one hall, and performing in another, this difference can come as quite a shock … Spaces not designed for concerts will sometimes be echoey, or they swallow the sound too.”
According to Navega, the size of the audience also affects the acoustics of the space. He explained, “If it’s just an empty space with six to 10 people, it’s dramatically different from if you have 20 or more people because the human body absorbs the sound and then it’s not so reverberant.”
In the Bridge Building, however, the crowd poses a unique difficulty. Navega continued, “I do understand that this is kind of a passage but in the chamber music program, we train our students to perform in front of quiet, attentive audiences. We don’t play background music … But…I don’t expect this audience to be absolutely silent.”
Musician Antigone Delton ’18 noted the silver lining, “Our conception of the audience especially in classical music is a very static, formal one but I think this event gives us the chance to turn that convention on its head and bring our music to a totally different setting, one that Beethoven never would have imagined!”
Navega hopes that the half-hour concert will be just enough time for students to grab a bite to eat while enjoying some music. “They can sit and listen or they can grab a sandwich and sit and watch. I was even thinking about naming the series something like ‘Brown Bag Recital’ or something like that, encouraging people to come and eat there.”
Schultz thinks the timing of the show is perfect for introducing students to chamber music. “I look forward to this concert series bringing light to Vassar’s chamber music program,” she said. “I think chamber music tends to go under the radar, so I hope that there can be more events like this in the future to showcase a really interesting aspect of our music program.”
Navega, however, cautioned, “Chamber music is different from say choir because with choir, anyone that is interested can approach the director and start singing relatively quickly. For you to get to the point where you can perform chamber music, you must be at the point where you have invested a lot in your instrument. Several years of practice. It’s not something that you just pick up.”
He continued, “For you to do chamber music in college, you must have had at least five or six years of experience. These students are really advanced players.”
This commitment is still incredibly rewarding to musicians. According to Denton, “The best part is the challenge of communicating closely with the other musicians and connecting your individual lines to create a seamless whole.”
Soler hopes to continue working with his group outside of Vassar. “I’ve been able to make good friends with the other students in my group and we hope to keep performing together in school sponsored concerts and professional gigs as we’ve been doing so far,” he said.
According to Schultz, Navega has fostered this bond between musicians. She explained, “Eduardo also works very hard to create community within the ensembles, rather than focusing solely on the music, which I think we all really appreciate.”