Friends Making Music

By Barry Kempton

Some people reading this blog entry may recognize the above title as the one chosen by Gabriel Kahane and Timo Andres for their fascinating program on our Schubert Club Mix series tomorrow evening.  It will be an eclectic mix of older, traditional songs (Schubert, Schumann) newer old songs (Britten, Ives) and brand new music written by the artists themselves – both highly regarded composers.  I am really looking forward to the music and the musicians – both really intrigue me.

There’s also something about their program title itself “Friends Making Music” that makes the performance very appealing.  I’ve written in the past about some of my most memorable concert experiences, when the spirit and enjoyment of the musicians on stage is so clear that these affect – or indeed infect – the audience.  There’s a palpable intimacy shared between performers on stage which spreads to the audience and makes the audience’s experience feel more special.

Friends making music is really at the heart of small ensemble music-making, be it classical chamber music or jazz or rock and pop.  Groups and ensembles who aren’t engaged in their music-making, enjoying and responding to the playing of the musicians around them, these groups usually fail in public performances to make much of an impression.

Friends making music also speaks directly to the way The Schubert Club got started back in 1882 when the State of Minnesota was just a few decades old.  Women with musical abilities of various levels found themselves in new homes, in a new city and presumably with plenty of time on their hands.  They formed a music club and got together to play with one another.  Though 130+ years later, being part of The Schubert Club no longer requires membership nor an audition, the spirit of The Schubert Club remains tied to that original essence of 1882.  We are united by our enthusiasm and passion for music – listening, playing, learning and admiring.