Story By Michael McMinn
Community partner Melanie Mays from MADCO and Duke Energy sponsored the performance of the Telegraph Quartet, who performed a mini-concert for the Jefferson Somerset After-Care Program students on Thursday, March 14.
The students were introduced to Eric Chin and Joseph Maile who play the violin, Pei-Ling on the viola and Jeremiah Shaw on the cello.
They were entertained with several different music selections as they used their imaginations to visualize a scene that the music may have depicted. They also learned about the instruments being played and the different sounds the instruments could produce. The school would like to show their thanks and appreciation to Melanie Mays and Duke Energy for providing this exciting concert for the students. Sincere thanks also go to the Telegraph Quartet for the wonderful performance and the way in which they helped the students understand and relate to the music.
The first work the Telegraph Quartet performed is “Dvorak Dumka” (2nd Movement) String Quartet in E-Flat Major. This piece was described by Pei-Ling as the sadness one might feel at receiving an ice cream only to then drop it on the floor. The sad tone of the piece turns briefly upbeat as if you were to get a new ice cream cone to replace the lost one. Suddenly the piece turns somber again, as the ice cream analogy continues, only to discover the replacement ice cream is the wrong flavor. The musicians encouraged the students to listen to each piece they performed and think about the thoughts and emotions the music evoked along with words to describe what they heard.
They performed a courting dance tune composed by Czech composer Erwin Shulhoff, the Shulhoff Serenata. The Serenata is Italian style that Shulhoff transforms into a more Czech style composition. Shulhoff loved to dance and wrote many dance compositions. The song introduced the students to the idea of dissonance in music as well, where the piece takes a dark and discordant, even unpleasant, turn. Afterward the students described the piece as scary and mysterious. One student very imaginatively explained it was “like entering a dark forest.”
Cello player, Jeremiah Shaw, told the students to think of the quartet as a basketball team. Just like a basketball team moves the ball with a purpose up the court and passes the ball between players, the quartet works in a similar way. Each member has a role, or position, to play and move the music forward, sometimes passing musical notes on to the next instrumentalist like a ball. The quartet then performed a piece written in 1946 during World War II. Polish composer Mieczysław Weinberg had to escape to Russia but lost most of his family during the Holocaust. The quartet performed a very moving piece from him, the Weinberg String Quartet No. 6, Movements 2 and 3.
The quartet finished off the performance with the Shulhoff Tarantella. The quartet explained that several hundred years ago when someone was bitten by a tarantula, they would get a high fever and the room would start spinning. Tarantellas were written as fast paced songs the victim would dance to in order, it was believed, to get rid of the fever. Fortunately today, medicine has advanced to the point that we know dancing is not a viable cure for spider bites. The quartet members also reminded the students if they get bit by a spider, they should immediately tell an adult.
Students can learn a lot from music and being exposed to new cultural experiences. It was interesting to see how the quartet members related these classical pieces of music to help the students understand them and see them in a modern light. It was also great to see our students interact with the music, think about it and discuss how the music made them feel.
To learn more about the Telegraph Quartet, visit telegraphquartet.com.