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USU's string performers offer annual concert before Thanksgiving holiday

staff writer

Published: Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 02:12

Under the coaching of the Fry Street Quartet, the USU Music Department proudly presented the USU String Chamber Ensembles annual fall concert Tuesday night. Numerous pieces were played during this performance, and many were performed in quartets featuring two violins, a viola and a cello.


In preparation, performers underwent class rehearsals as well as individual rehearsals this semester that ranged between five and 10 hours per week.

“As music majors we are required to rehearse four hours plus individually per week.” said Sarah Knight, the viola player in the Clara Piano Quintet who is majoring in viola performance.

The students also received coaching from the members of the Fry Street Quartet, USU's resident string ensemble, for an hour each week. Each ensemble used its own techniques to approach how to rehearse their piece.

Members of the Clara Piano Quintet listened to various recordings and selected styles they liked from the recordings and used them in their piece, Knight said. This allowed the musicians to bring more creativity into their piece and improve their technique.

A violin-harp duet also performed, and the players honed their technique by practicing along with the click of a metronome, said McKayla Sundberg, the duet's harpist.

“I think the metronome is very important, everyone should use it,” Sundberg said. “We did a lot of breathing exercises.”

The breathing exercises were designed to get the performers to begin and end together during rehearsals by keeping the players set to the same pace, Sundberg said. The performers used a "dynamic technique" as well, Sundberg said.

“If we don't know whether to play a part soft or loud we would play it really loud, then really soft and see which worked best with that part,” she said.

During rehearsals, the duet played the melody and harmony together while practicing stop-and-start drills to help get into the tempo of the piece, Sundberg said.

At the beginning of the concert, Anne Bayless, the cellist for the Fry Street Quartet, welcomed audience members to the concert. She talked about a scholarship for string students called the String Scholarship Fund. The program itself is funded by alumni, corporations and foundations to financially support string students and other necessities, Bayles said, but the scholarship is a result of generous donations from Dan and Manon Russell, supporters of Utah State's music and arts programs.

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