Opus One 'goes it alone'

When the students in the Opus One string ensemble perform Tuesday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Bezanson Recital Hall, it will be without a leader.

“The format for Opus One has changed this year to help students prepare to perform and accompany a soloist without a conductor. Among other things, students will take on the added responsibility of learning the whole orchestral score,” said visiting assistant professor Kathryn Lockwood, who oversees all string chamber music ensembles for the Department of Music and Dance. Were the students playing the same compositions under a conductor they would not need to know their colleagues’ parts and would rely on the conductor entrance cues, for example. The challenge is made somewhat easier by the first player of each section--the principal first violinist, principal second violinist, principal violist and principal cellist--who hold leadership roles, help the section play in unison and coordinate bowings.

However, in a work such as “Lachrymae, Op. 48,” which will be performed at next week’s performance, composer Benjamin Britten has strayed from the practice of having all members of each section play the same thing at the same time. Since there is more than one musical idea going on at the same time within the same section of Opus One, the players need to be their own section leaders. During the fall semester, the string faculty will join Opus One. Marylou Churchill will sit with the violins, Kathryn Lockwood with the violas, Astrid Schween with the cellos and Salvatore Macchia with the contrabasses.

Solo performances will also be a feature of this year’s Opus One concerts. Next week, Michael Jao will perform Joseph Haydn’s “Cello Concerto in C Major” and Julia Koo will perform Haydn’s “Violin Concerto in C Major.” Sheridan Randolph will be the solo violist in “Lachrymae.” Other members of Opus One will perform as soloists throughout the year.

The concert is free.