TELLURIDE – When music moves beyond the experience of auditory gratification and toward something that is more like an intimate embrace of sensation and sound, it becomes an emotional encounter.
While all genres of music endeavor to elicit an emotive experience, no other form of music generates the same level of intimacy inherent in chamber music. By definition, chamber music is played by small ensembles of three to eight instruments, traditionally performed without a conductor and usually written for performances in rooms or reception halls before a small audience. But ask a chamber music buff what this genre is, and the definition you receive will likely expose the close personal experience of chamber music as one of its most defining – and inspiring – characteristics.
“It’s an experience that is very relaxing, very intriguing and, to me, very spiritual,” says chamber music enthusiast Warner Paige, board president of the Telluride Chamber Music Festival.
The essence of chamber music lies in the setting in which it is played, traditionally a small space in front of a small audience. The closeness of the musicians to one another, and the proximity of the players to the audience, creates an experience of music that is at once intimate and dramatic.
A venue like the Sheridan Opera House lends itself seamlessly to the presentation of chamber music, Paige says.
“You would be surprised at the dynamic range of the music,” he says. “The fullness of sound is enhanced by the acoustics of the Sheridan Opera House. With its compact setting, a feeling of intimacy and oneness with the music and with the performers is achieved, a feeling that is impossible to achieve in a large hall.”
According to the American Chamber Music Association, the heart of chamber music resides in the “spirit of collaboration.” The organization describes chamber music as follows: “Democratic in essence, [chamber music] demands that each individual engage in a close musical dialogue with the other performers. Their collective musical instinct, experience, knowledge, and talent guide the process of interpreting, rehearsing, and performing.”
Chamber music, and particularly the quartet, is considered by many music connoisseurs to be the “purest” form of music. This is by virtue of its ideal balance of instruments, Paige explains, and says that since it is still performed for the benefit of small groups of people, chamber music probably gives the most lasting pleasure to more music lovers than any other kind of music.
The Telluride Chamber Music Festival begins with the Town Park Concert and Picnic on Aug. 7 and continues Aug. 8, 9, 13, 15, 16, and 17.
Friday, Aug. 8 features music by the Virtuoso Pianists. Saturday, Aug. 9 features two of the greatest works of chamber music, Mozart’s String Quartet K590 and Beethoven’s “Archduke Trio.” On Wednesday, Aug. 13, the “35th Anniversary Extravaganza” features Nicolle Foland of the San Francisco Opera. (This concert will be held at the Michael D. Palm Theatre.) Local’s Night is Friday, Aug. 15, with music for Harp and Flute featuring guest artists Rosalind Simpson and Janet Ketchum. Saturday, Aug. 16, salutes the great Russian composers Prokifiev and Tchaikovsky. All concerts begin with pre-concert notes at 6:45 p.m. and the concert at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at HYPERLINK "http://www.tellurideticket.com" www.tellurideticket.com, Telluride Music, at the door prior to each concert, or by calling the Telluride Chamber Music Festival office at 728-8686.