An Evening of Chamber Music at UCSB

Photo by Adrian Hinojosa

Adrian Hinojosa
Contributing Writer

On Nov. 15, the UCSB Chamber Players put on a beautiful performance at Karl Geiringer Hall to the delight of many students. Led by lecturer Jonathan Moerschel, the student ensembles performed pieces by renowned classical composers such as Mozart, Schubert, Brahms and many others. These performances demonstrated the tireless practice and study the student ensembles have dedicated to learning these classical pieces. To the great pleasure of many, the students’ hard work paid off as the UCSB Chamber Players interpreted these works with ease and fervor worthy of any professional musician’s salt.

Musical director Jonathan Moerschel led the event and is also responsible for coordinating the various student ensembles in the department. Moreover, Moerschel assigns various coaches to each ensemble and works as a coach himself. Present at this event were two guest judges: violinist Han Soo Kim and pianist Kevin Kwan Loucks. Their evaluation determined which ensembles would move onto the next chamber performance UCSB is holding on Dec. 2. 

The event was free and open to all UCSB students and faculty. Among the crowd were performers’ family and friends who came out in support of their endless dedication. However, many attendees seemed to be general fans of classical music and not necessarily affiliated with the performers. Either way, everyone showed incredible  enthusiasm throughout the entire night, supporting fellow classmates and family members

In particular, the audience was moved by composer Caroline Shaw’s “Dolce Cantavi” performed by a madrigals ensemble consisting of Lauren Vanderlinden, Cloe Gentile, and Megan Williams. The ensemble’s elegiac voices merged together into a euphoria of glossy harmony that simply blew the audience away. 

Furthermore, flutist Madison Kolkow and pianist Tyler Park’s rendition of Benjamin Godard’s Suite “de Trois Morceaux, op. 116″ also left a solid impression on the audience. Kolkow’s masterful control of her instrument allowed her to express with striking detail the weightlessness and impassioned phrases within the piece. 

The night eventually culminated into the judges’ final verdict. Loucks and Kim determined that the crowd-favorite madrigal ensemble that performed Shaw’s Dolce Cantavi would be moving forward. Alongside the madrigals ensemble, the ensembles that performed Anton Arensky’s “Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 32,” Claude Debussy’s “Sonata for Cello and Piano” and Franz Schubert’s “Quartettsatz” would also be moving forward to the Chamber Players concert in December 2nd.

When asked about personal teaching philosophies in an interview with The Bottom Line, Moerschel responded that “the key to improving is to be curious.” This philosophy is something he actively teaches to his students as he encouragingly stated that “I want my students to [be able] to teach themselves.”

When TBL asked Loucks about the theme of independence in chamber music, Loucks stated that “it’s so nice to hear individuals shine but also blend in togetherness in an ensemble…[and] the advantage of chamber music is to be able to hear all those individual voices and hear how they interact with one another.” Certainly the level of independence required to teach oneself is necessary when attempting to blend together as a musical unit; the performers clearly demonstrated an ability to achieve exactly that.

Furthermore, speaking to the performers revealed an intrinsically relatable side to their performance: they are university students through and through. “As a 3rd year chemistry major,” Olivia Langner stated in an interview with The Bottom Line, “I am usually on campus 12 plus hours a day and then I go home and do homework. [But] I really appreciate the different aspects that music brings to my life, along with chemistry.” It’s clear that for many students like Olivia, the life of a student musician is no small feat.

Ultimately, the UCSB Chamber Players left the audience in awe and invigorated for classical music and the quality student ensembles deliver upon. The music department frequently holds events throughout the year, so students can look forward to attending events similar to this concert. In fact, the ensembles selected by the judges will return as previously mentioned alongside the UCSB Chamber Orchestra on Dec. 2, 2019. 

For a full list of events, check out the music department website.