By Lisa Schumaier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday March 6, 2003
Tucson doesn't get compared to New York or London very often. But when it comes to the Chamber Music Festival at the Tucson Convention Center, the cities become undeniably similar. Presented by the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, the festival is a weeklong instrumental celebration from the most applauded composers and musicians.
"This is our 10th Chamber Music Festival. We want to present five concerts in one week of the highest quality, by top-notch performers all over the U.S., along with five musicians from Prague," said Jean-Paul Bierny, the production manager for the festival.
After attending a Tuesday night performance myself, I realized that there was in fact, more to this festival than meets the eye. I was influenced by two factors: the timeless pieces and the people in the crowd who had probably been around since this music was composed.
The average age of an audience member neared 74. Expected, obvious and typical. However, it was not a performance that only that age group could enjoy. This review of classical music will not be written in the conventionally stuffy, conservative, slowing heartbeat style ¸ because that sort of attention is outright false. Perhaps it has even been a scam all these years to keep out the so-called disenfranchised youth.
Writing for a college newspaper, I need to speak to the students about a show that was just as thrilling as CatPower at Club Congress. But for some reason, students do not feel the need to go out and see these types of performances. When was the last or first time that you saw a woman, straddling what looks like the Golden Gate Bridge, pinching the strings crimson with the most beautiful sounds?
Katherine Englichova was the harpist from Prague that made the show, as Bierny would have put it, "superb." But there were others who captivated this young soul just as much. Jennifer Frautschi is a violinist who performed Suk's greatest works. The woman looked like she just come from Julliard grad school. Accompanied by Ewa Kupiec on the piano, the music made me want to close my eyes like the man with the wrinkled neck in front of me, but not to fall asleep, but instead to meander in and out of the notes and images that they created.
"College students should come because this is one of the finest chamber music
festivals in the United States. It is extraordinary that the editor of the American Records Guide, a classical publication, is spending the week with us. And the famous music station WFMT in Chicago is with us as well. They are putting 13 hours together from this festival, and (the festival )will be available to stations in Europe," Bierny said.
It is not the intention to blame my generation for lacking cultural sustenance or being too pretentious to hang out with possible WWll veterans. Neither is it my intention to try and
circumscribe a hypothesis as to why I was the youngest and only college student in an auditorium of hundreds. That probably has a lot to do with the older public encouraging and making younger generations feel welcome in an environment that was for a long time, reserved for the "sophisticated" white upper-class. But these tickets are $8, and the amount of talent that walks on and off stage throughout the night can be appreciated by anyone.
"Students would be missing out on something superb," Bierny said.
Students have already missed out on four days of the festival, but there are still three more days of cello string breaking and harp plucking. This festival is anything but five o'clock diners and enlarged crossword puzzles ¸ it is true art.