Today the Providence String Quartet gave their final presentation to the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School. As always, it began with a dramatic entrance: this time while three members of the Quartet onstage were playing the accompaniment to the opening theme from Smetana's From My Life, from the back of the hall came the rich viola solo as Sebastian Ruth sauntered down the aisle, stopping and whirling dramatically every few steps to focus his attention on a child. (Der Uberbrachte!) He was wearing a bright green cloak and hat ("leprechaun" color said one child), which for those who had heard the previous session on the Art of the Fugue signalled "follow the green dot" if you want to know who has the theme.
All four members of the quartet took turns with the presentation. (Jesse H began his comments by asking who supported the Yankees...and then the Red Sox! Great Excitement! He pointed out the similarities to a team-playing Quartet.) The four reminded the children of the previous sessions -- the connection between music and emotions, the idea of the theme moving around among the instruments, the different kinds of sounds the instruments make to simulate mood or activity. The Quartet elicited from the children once again the word for the emotion they felt on hearing each principal theme in the four movements of the Smetana quartet. Whenever the musicians posed questions to the kids, there was a huge waving of hands eager to respond. And every time the Quartet finished one of their short introductions of a theme, a huge round of applause swept the room.
The culmination of the session was an invitation to the children (now experts in the string quartet and the Smetana in particular) to go home and share what they had learned with their parents and friends, and invite them to the school for a free pot luck and concert in two weeks time, to hear the whole of the Smetana. It took some time to empty the hall. So many of the children wanted to ask a final question of the quartet members, or shake their hands, or tell them something important.
--Karen Romer, CMW Board member