Students’ Music Chamber creates a casual performance environment for Swarthmore musicians

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

This Sunday afternoon, musicians at Swarthmore will be able to relax and perform their favorite pieces for students in the Lang Concert Hall. The concert was organized by Mark Loria ’08 and Serena Le ’07 in order to give both music majors and non-music majors an opportunity perform in front of an audience. In an online interview, Le says “Mark and I are music majors, but we both know that there are a ton of fantastic, enthusiastic musicians at Swat who aren’t involved with the department or who maintain only a sort of peripheral involvement (through large performing ensembles, private lessons, or chamber music).”

Loria and Le came up with the idea last spring. The two were eager to provide as many performance opportunities for musicians at Swarthmore as possible, and thought it would be “a fun idea to start up a student concert series.” The goal of the concert would be to provide a low-pressure environment for students to perform pieces that they are already working on, or pieces that they love and would like to play again. “We talked to a few of our peers, got a lot of enthusiastic responses, and decided to give it a go this semester.” says Le.

While this is the only concert the students will be putting on this semester, Le hopes to make this a series and continue in the spring. “I sincerely hope these concerts will receive enough attention to become a permanent part of the performance fabric at Swat. It’s always difficult to start up something like this, but there’s so much talent here and these students deserve all the performance opportunities they can get.” she says.

Sunday’s concert will only include seven or eight performers, most of them musicians with whom Loria and Le are already familar. But Le wants to expand the program and open it up to the greater college community. For planning future concerts, a list of interested students who can be contacted for performance dates and times will be put together. From this list, approximately 12 musicians will be chosen, based on factors such as who is available to play on a certain date, whether or not an accompanist is required, and which instrument is being played. The long term goal is to open up these concerts for students looking to gain performance practice for their jury pieces (the audition pieces that determine scholarships at the end of each semester) and for students who are not used to performing on a regular basis. Le also wants to have a potluck at future concerts to encourage a warm, fun, and casual atmosphere.

Sunday’s concert will be made up of solos and small chamber ensembles, playing works from Chopin, George Gershwin, Mozart, Rachmaninoff and others. Says Le “The audience might be on the thin side this weekend, but I definitely encourage interested students to attend (and bring friends!). These are pieces that don’t require extensive academic understanding of classical music to appreciate. In fact, they’re not all classical pieces. The performers will be having a lot of fun and the atmosphere will be casual and encouraging.”

The concert will take place on Sunday at 2:00 PM in the Lang Concert Hall.

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