- Associated Press - Saturday, July 25, 2015

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) - In an orchestra, the musicians follow their section leaders, and the section leaders in turn follow the conductor.

The structure is very hierarchical, said Zeta Gesme, a 17-year-old cello player from Bend.

But chamber music, classical music played by small groups, is much more intimate, said Damon Zavala, a 15-year-old from Salem who was playing in a sextet with Gesme earlier this month.

“In chamber music, everyone is a leader and you have to get to know each other,” said Gesme.

Zavala said this made the first day of Oregon State University’s Chamber Music Workshop so rough — the musicians, aged 10 to 20 from across Oregon, were divided into groups and were just getting to know each other.

“It was kind of a stiff atmosphere,” said Gesme, who said the musicians were more focused on the logistics of the pieces they were practicing together than on the music itself. Gesme and Zavala’s group was learning two movements of Dvorak’s Sextet in A Major Opus 48.

Zavala, who is in his second year attending the workshop, said things get progressively better throughout the week.

In fact, Gesme said the second day was “a lot better because we have a feel for the music, and a feel for each other.”

Jessica Lambert, the artistic director for the workshops and a member of the faculty in the Music Department at OSU, said giving young musicians a chance to develop new friendships is one of the goals of the program. She said for many musicians chamber music is one of their favorite things because it gives them lots of interaction with their fellow players and the audience.

But the workshops also give the students a chance to get individual instruction.

“They are bringing their abilities to express themselves to a higher level . that’s really inspirational to me,” she said.

“We have some of the best string players in the state of Oregon here on our faculty,” said Rachelle McCabe, executive director of the workshop and a music professor at OSU.

The second session had 44 students in 10 ensembles; the first had 64 students in 15 ensembles. McCabe and Lambert said in the last three years since the workshop started, its enrollment has tripled.

“This is becoming recognized as a magnet for summer music programs and is continually growing,” said Lambert.

There are opportunities to see both the faculty and students in this session perform.

Both Zavala and Gesme said performing music was meaningful to them because it allowed them to express feelings to the audience.

“I can’t explain the feeling when you play an amazing piece. It’s overwhelming,” said Zavala, adding there are times when playing a piece brings him to tears; other times, he said, he’s so excited he nearly falls from his chair.

Gesme said music is a language, and the workshop is helping her build up her fluency.

“It’s not a technical language, like about meanings, it’s about feelings and emotions,” she said.


Information from: Gazette-Times, https://www.gtconnect.com

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