The internationally recognized Dover Quartet visited the Texas A&M Chamber Orchestra during its one-day stop in Bryan-College Station on Monday, offering advice and a short performance for the students.
The Philadelphia-based string quartet was in town to play in the Friends of Chamber Music and Concerts on Carter Creek series at First Presbyterian Church in Bryan. The musicians split up their rehearsal time to make a special trip to visit the students. A&M does not offer a music major, but students can audition and participate in the university’s chamber and philharmonic orchestras.
“For us, for our students, it’s one of those type of opportunities that comes along rarely in life, where you get to work with people that are the absolute best in the nation and best in the world at doing what we enjoy doing, which is making music,” said Travis Almany, Texas A&M director of orchestras.
After playing for the students, the quartet members introduced themselves and answered a few questions. Each musician sat with the students who played the same instrument — violins, viola and cello — and gave advice throughout the session that lasted for a little more than an hour.
The experience reminded Dover violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt of guests who came to her youth orchestra, or the master classes she and her fellow quartet members attended at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.
“There were sometimes just random things you latch onto, and so when we teach in this kind of capacity, you kind of hope that at least maybe one thing you say will stick,” she said.
Freshman entomology major Felicitas Corro said she appreciated the chance to see and hear the quartet play, and to see how the quartet members interact with each other.
“I see how they connected through the music, how they were looking at each other, how they express the music with their face,” she said. “I feel like it’s amazing having them here helping us so we can proceed in our music and improve it, because we’re still learning. It’s a beautiful opportunity to learn, to grow as a musician.”
Dover cellist Camden Shaw told the students that it can be easier to have a relationship with music if it is not their career.
“Then you know that you’re doing it just for pleasure and for fulfillment,” he said. “I think what you guys are doing is amazing. The fact that you’re all here and you’re playing so well, it only is a testament that I have no doubt you’re going to continue playing later on.”
Pajaro-van de Stadt said after the visit she hopes the students continue to make music a fulfilling part of their lives.
“My dad is a surgeon, so he was a medical student, but he’s a really good pianist, and it’s just really amazing for me to get to see him always have the opportunity to escape into music whenever he wants to,” she said. “That’s just really a beautiful part of someone’s life, so it’s good that they’re opening themselves up to it.”
Dover violinist Joel Link noted after the visit that college students who enjoy orchestral and chamber music are key to ensuring classical music is funded and supported. Fellow violinist Bryan Lee added that classical music needs younger fans and advocates.
“If there’s no audience, you can’t really perform,” he said.