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Apple Hill String Quartet to bring chamber music to Los Alamos

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By Kirsten Laskey

This month, the guitar is being substituted for other string instruments during the Guitars and Gateaux concert series. Los Alamos Arts Council may be presenting a different sound, but the organization is keeping it all within the Guitars and Gateaux family. The event, which is called Strings and Gateaux, will feature desserts and music starting at 7 p.m. March 25 at Fuller Lodge.

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The show will feature the Apple Hill String Quartet, a group of artists-in-residence from the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music located in Nelson, N.H.

Elise Kuder, violin; Sarah Kim, violin; Michael Kelley, viola; and Rupert Thompson, cellist; make up the quartet.

Lenny Matczynski, director of Apple Hill, said the four musicians’ program will  include a piece by Schubert.

He explained the composer wrote the music when he was just a teenager and still determining whether or not to be a composer. Schubert’s family was the first to perform the piece.

“It’s a wonderful piece,” Matczynski said.

The second piece is by Victor Ullman and was written under much more dire circumstances.

Ullman wrote it in 1945 while imprisoned in a concentration camp. It was the last work he wrote before his death.

“It’s a really fascinating work because it has a lot of genres of music in it,” Matczynski  said. “There’s really incredibly fun parts and really devastating music. It’s a just a wonderful piece.”

The final work is by Schumann. Matczynski said it was the first of three string quartet pieces Schumann wrote.

The program may be new to the concert series, but it is an addition the audience should enjoy.

“You’ll be able to see as well as hear the interplay between the four players. There is a lot of eye contact, a lot of movement. (You can) hear a lot of melodies being tossed around between the four players,” Matczynski said.

“There’s lot of interpersonal dynamics between the four people. Because it is chamber, the demands on people are huge. They have to be lyrical and refined. It’s a very fascinating dynamic and rewarding to everybody.”

The audience should also enjoy the connection between the chamber players.

Matczynski said when he began his position at Apple Hill a little more than two-and-a-half years ago, he thought it would be good to have artists-in-residence. He was interested in having the artists be a part of a quartet because it offers a four-part harmony and a lot of music was written for string quartets.

The fact that each of the musicians already knew each other and are friends was another bonus.

“These were four people who were friends and they sat down and played with each other and it was very satisfying,” Matczynski said.

Furthermore, he encourages the community to hear and see the quartet in action.

“I think anything live is the truth. I have nothing against recordings because that’s a different kind of process … In live music, what’s happening in the moment is happening … four people are creating right in the moment. I think it is a really interesting dynamic in a concert. (The performers) are giving something to the audience and (the audience) is giving something back. It is a sense of community. You are experiencing that and some pretty good art. I think it is really crucial to go to concerts and hear live music or live anything,” Matczynski said.

Marlanne Hamilton, executive director of LAAC, said it was just luck that chamber players are traveling and happen to available for a concert.

“I think it’s our good fortune to have a night where they could perform. It’s just so happened that we had an opening,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a excellent performance. The audience will be delighted with it.”

Hamilton added, “We just hope that the members will come out and support this special performance that we are substituting in our guitar series this month.”

Matczynski said the chamber players were happy to seize this opportunity.

He said Los Alamos seems to have a strong sense of community. And, “it’s wonderful to play under those circumstances.”

Admission costs $10 for LAAC members and $15 for non-members.