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The intimate conversation of chamber music

By Josh Tikka
On January 20, 2012

Chamber music isn't generally the first genre that comes to mind when college students are mentioned.

However obscure as it may seem, Stephanie Ettelson has faith that our generation can find value in the art of chamber music, laden with great sound, intimate conversation, and historical intrigue.

The conversation between instruments is a symbol for equality amongst peers. Chamber music stands uniquely in the world of classical music, not as solo pieces, but as symphonic melodies made for a small groups of virtuoso.

Ettelson has thus aligned her taste as a "professional listener", her skills as an "amateur B+ musician" and former teacher to collaborate with The Music Institute of Chicago at their Winnetka Campus in formulating a class to expand and enhance the musical minds of others.

The chamber music appreciation class will run from Feb. 9–March 29, 2012, on Thursdays 2–4 p.m. The goal of this class, in the words of Ettelson, is to develop an audience appreciation for the genre, in such a way that people with degrees in classical music won't be bored, yet others with little to no experience with chamber music at all won't be left in the dust.

And that's the hardest and one of the most rewarding parts, Ettelson essentially told me, walking the tight rope of not being over-saturating, nor lacking in interest.

Ettelson's background contains a wide variety of accomplishments. She's studied communications and journalism, been a violinist since she was eight years old, she's been a high school history teacher… and now she's focused on expanding her already rather impressive CD, LP, and Digital collection of songs, tracks, albums, and discographies

She says that she is rather excited about the prospect and potential that this class holds.

When I asked her what the appeal to chamber music is, or at least should be, for my generation (assuming...ya know... you're like, younger 20 somethings... or whatever...) and she gave me two pretty solid answers, and one pretty obvious one.

Uno: The historical context in which these artists lived, worked, and created their music speaks volumes about the meaning and purpose of the music put forth.

"You can't talk about Beethoven without talking about the French Revolution. Music is just an extension of the times."

Second: listening, or partaking in chamber music is witnessing an "intimate conversation among equals." I really like that concept, it suggests a depth of emotion and interest that is difficult to replicate, fabricate, or experience within popular music.

Finally, the obvious reason to listen to chamber music is the music itself.

Apart from the historical interest and the romantic community embedded within it, there is this thing called sound.

Good, unique, sound.

For more on good, unique, sound, Stephanie recommended interested and curious audiences check out the Robert Shumann's Piano Quintet, Beethoven's "Archduke" trio, and Dvorak's "American." Or, you can enroll in The Music Institute's appreciation class.


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