amenda-quartet-bw-421Chamber music is one of the most rewarding genres of classical music for audiences and performers alike. Ideally performed in smaller venues where the audience members are close enough to feel the vibrancy of the music, this music is composed for a small group of musicians with one player on a part (as opposed to orchestral music, where one part may be played by a full section of ten to twelve violins) – and there is no conductor present!

What is so engaging about chamber music? According to Honeoye Falls resident and professional violist Melissa Matson, one attraction is the rewarding collaboration that starts in the rehearsal process and culminates in the performance. While composers provide the specific notes and rhythms plus a few indications of speed and volume, the players are left to interpret more elusive details such as character (do we want the audience to feel joyful in this place?) and timing (shall we make this go a little slower, so the audience feels more power?). Another consideration is the balance of the parts (should the viola be the most important in this place?) – and then there are those purely technical things to discuss, such as being in tune! Once these details are worked out over hours, weeks, and months, the musicians can approach each performance as a unique interpretation – much like actors in theater might adjust their timing and volume based on another actor’s presentation. The audience is engaged in hearing the music being created as it evolves in the hands of skilled artists!

The string quartet combination (two violins, a viola, and a cello) has been explored by practically every composer from Mozart and Haydn to the present day. The sixteen quartets of Beethoven represent a pinnacle of human artistic achievement, and the performance of the complete “cycle” is considered a monumental venture. The Rochester-based professional Amenda Quartet was formed five years ago with the ambitious goal of presenting such a concert cycle, and will be performing two concerts at The Lower Mill! Wednesday February 10 at 7:30 will be a commentary and performance of Opus 127 (one of Beethoven’s “late” quartets); Wednesday March 16’s concert will be a performance of two quartets: Opus 18 Number 3 and Opus 74 (from Beethoven’s “early” and “middle” periods). For information about tickets (and the Rabbit Room’s special prix-fixe pre-concert meal) visit

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