A chamber ensemble that plays with no visual cues

Posted on: July 22, 2016

“Imagine Olympic fencers battling in the dark, locating each other by the swish of their foils,” writes Lawrence Toppman in Tuesday’s (7/19) Charlotte Observer (N.C.) “You now have an idea what it’s like to play in (x7) squared, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte chamber music ensemble where none of the four instrumentalists see each other…. The quartet and its founder, assistant professor Jonathan Govias, are now in Scotland, at the World Conference of the International Society for Music Education—where the review panel gave them a rare 30-minute slot to perform and explain themselves…. Govias positions pianist Dawn Carpenter, violinist Faith Foster, cellist Kelsey Sexton and clarinetist Mitchell Stokes in a circle with their backs to one another. … nobody nods or drops a hand to give the cue to start…. Govias … [is] now in his fourth year at UNCC and director of orchestras there.… The UNCC quartet members—who have been together less than three months—believe it works…. When they get stuck, Govias performs ‘an intervention.’ He helps them identify problems and fix those themselves.” Says Govias, “Research tells us the eye needs 400 milliseconds to synchronize to a conductor, but the ear needs 150 to 200.”

Posted July 22, 2016