MTL News

Brevity is Soul of MTL List

November 17, 2004

The MTL Chamber Players performed a concert titled "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue," featuring music by Bach, Riegger, Harbison, Muczynski and Rutter in pieces all selected for their brevity. The concert was Friday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. in Killian Hall.

The MTL chamber group was formed in 2003 by Professor Emeritus Stephen Senturia, a clarinetist, and Ole Nielsen (S.B. 2001, S.M. 2002), a flautist. The ensemble includes bass clarinetist Joe Kanapka (S.M. 1998, Ph.D. 2002), and clarinetist Elizabeth Connors, (administrative assistant, Music and Theater Arts Section). Senturia and then-doctoral candidate Ole Nielsen discovered their common devotion to chamber music while working together in MIT's Microsystems Technology Laboratory, giving the group its name.

The ensemble players deliberately chose works with movements averaging two minutes in length, said Senturia. Most concertgoers are "either suspicious or actively negative about contemporary music," he noted. But by offering short bursts of music, he said, the audience member who likes the piece will be "sorry it ends so soon" while those who are "put off by a particular movement can rest assured it will not last long."

Senturia offered a guide--brief, of course--to the program.

Bach's "5 Inventions, from BWV 772," clearly not a contemporary work, is offered as "something old." Best known in its piano arrangement, the work has been transposed by arranger Lloyd Conley for flute and clarinet.

Wallingford Riegger's "Duo for Flute and Clarinet"--the program's "something new" is taken from a set of "Three Duos for Flute, Clarinet and Oboe."

Institute Professor John Harbison's "Trio Sonata for Two Clarinets and Bass Clarinet," presented as "something entirely different," is almost "unique, in that it consists of four movements each titled 'Fast,'" according to the program guide.

Senturia noted that the ensemble "borrowed" three of Robert Muczynski's "Duos for Flute and Clarinet" from his "Opus 34, Six Duets for Flute." The concluding work, John Rutter's "Three American Miniatures," offers "something blue" with movements titled "Blues" and "Rag."

A version of this article appeared in the November 17, 2004 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 49, Number 10).

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