I listen to classical music for studying. I find the genre soothing when I need white noise in the background to my work, without the distraction of words. Not being a classical music enthusiast, that is what I think of when I hear the words chamber music and string instruments. I could not have studied to the music performed at Wednesday evening’s performance by A Far Cry and Roomful of Teeth. It was distracting and simultaneously hypnotic, it was empowered to give voice to the feeling of powerlessness and powerful when just voiceless music.
A Far Cry is a 17 person self-conducted orchestra with a lively and spritely sound. Not knowing much about classical music, I can’t speak in depth on their musicality except to say it was brilliant. As they played I was constantly surprised by the changes in movements, the way the musicians but their whole selves-moving vigorously to the music- into their playing. My notions of what strings’ classical music is were completely subverted. And in this subversion I found something inside of me relaxed; I was able to just enjoy the music. I felt comfortable in the space and allowed to let go of the stressful rush of deadlines for the end of the school year.
The same phenomenon occurred during the peices by Roomful of Teeth. The mesmerizing sound lulled me into a sense of ease when I would have expected to feel unsettled by the disregard for what I thought of as “Chamber”. But instead, I was eased and astonished that 8 human voices could makes so many sounds. That they could blend, create dissonance, and fracture in such a myriad of ways!
The final piece was one with the two groups together, written specifically for them by Roomful of Teeth’s member Caroline Shaw. The two seemed for one moment to do a fun exchange passing the melody and featuring one group, just to then tightly intertwine groups the next moment. The interplay of friendship and musicianship was wonderful to watch.
I would recommend catching these two groups perform if given the chance; for both the classical music enthusiast and the non alike, they will change your perception of chamber music.