By Kyle Plummer
Dixie State University students performed a rigorous program at a chamber music recital on Tuesday night for a public audience.
Led by Ka-Wai Yu, assistant professor of music, the ensemble performed seven pieces for public listeners.
“Obviously this class has a group of string players of different levels, different instruments, and very different backgrounds coming together, so one challenge is to fit in,” Yu said.
The chamber music setting also allows Yu to be more involved in individually teaching the students and helping them improve as both musicians and students.
“I think students are very used to playing in a large ensemble with a conductor, having the professor directing everything,” Yu said. “But in chamber music, they learn to be able to have individual ideas and interact amongst themselves much more and it’s also a very intimate setting so everything is very delicate and has to be polished.”
The students represented here range from those studying music full time and a handful who are participating as more of a hobby. Katt Phillips, a sophomore psychology major from St. George, has been playing the violin for six years and participated in a quintet ensemble this semester.
“It’s definitely more of a hobby, but it’s more of like an intense hobby that takes up time but it’s worth it in the end,” she said.
Olga Ivanenko, a senior music performance major from Kyiv, Ukraine, said: “I think we just improve in general, like in every class here. You know, you start taking it and then you learn something new every day. We definitely improved working as a group and putting [a] story into the pieces like understanding what that piece is about, not just playing notes.”
The diversity is what plays a big part of the classroom setting for Yu, bringing together non-music majors and full-time music majors.
”Non-music majors, they really play for fun and for the enjoyment,” Yu said. “But they are also serious learners.”
This benefits the full-time music majors as well. Yu explained that they get more opportunities now to work with non-music majors, which prepares them for the reality of graduating with a music degree: going out and working with people who aren’t music majors.
”I think this is a great blend of talents,” he said.
Some struggles did occur behind-the-scenes as some of the students had to deal with replacing a performer.
Rebecca Gillespie, a freshman music education major from Cedar City, said: “It’s been an interesting semester. We had our first violinist sort of jump off the face of the planet. We don’t really know where she went, and so we had to find another person to fill in her spot.”
With the help of Yu, the quintet was able to find a new violinist for the position and the show was able to proceed as rehearsed.