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The Strings of Summer

Violist Donna Lorenzo with participants in last summer's UB Summer Strings Institute.

UB Summer Strings Institute returns

Baird Hall and Slee Hall on the UB Amherst Campus will again be the location for an intensive summer string workshop from Saturday, June 23, through Thursday, June 28, with sessions running from 9am to 9pm.

The workshop is geared towards advanced string students from high school level to young professionals, and will be hosted by UB associate professor of cello Jonathan Golove, a member of the critically acclaimed Baird Trio who has been featured as soloist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Slee Sinfonietta, New York Virtuoso Singers, and, as a baroque cellist, with the USC Early Music Ensemble. Golove notes, “The main emphasis is on string quartets and string orchestra, but students do receive individual lessons, and we also have some ‘special topics’ sessions, such as one I lead on contemporary string techniques.”

His workshop colleagues include Zino Bogacheck, professor of violin at George Mason University and a member of the Washington National Opera Orchestra, who was trained in the former Soviet Union; violist Donna Lorenzo, a Juilliard and Eastman graduate whose solo and chamber music performances include concerts at Carnegie’s Weill Hall, Lincoln Center, La Scala, Paris Opera, and Leipzig’s Gewandhaus and the BPO; and violinist Yuki Numata, former adjunct violin and viola instructor at UB, who has been described as a violinist with “virtuosic flair and dexterous bravery” by the New York Times.

The institute’s goal is to expose players and music educators to the many facets of contemporary string playing, with participants in this six-day course working intensively to improve their skills in solo, chamber music, and orchestral playing. A certificate will be awarded to all participants who complete the course successfully. The institute includes hourly lessons, chamber music coaching, master classes, contemporary music workshop, string orchestra rehearsals, faculty recital, student recitals, and string orchestra concert.

Violist Donna Lorenzo observes: “There are many reasons why attending a string workshop is extremely important and relevant for string players, from elementary to professionals. It is a time when students and faculty alike can set aside the many distractions around us and focus primarily on playing and learning about our instruments in chamber, solo, and orchestral settings in a relaxed and fun setting. The chamber music groups are wonderful ways to work on and perform great music working as a team, as the students are encouraged to communicate their creative ideas to the other members of their chamber group. They also learn specific chamber music rehearsal techniques which most times are not taught in schools.

“I still remember the first string workshop I attended. I was in high school and attended the Cleveland String Quartet seminar at the old UB main street campus. My coaches included the members of the Cleveland Quartet and their mentor, Mischa Schneider [cellist of the legendary Budapest String Quartet for 38 years]. We played Dvorak’s American Quartet, and the camaraderie and music-making was string player heaven. The coaches were all encouraging and helpful, and I am still in contact with some friends I made back then.

“Everyone comes into the string workshop with a different need,” says Lorenzo, “and when teaching solo lessons I try to give each student as much information and encouragement I can to help them become a better player. During chamber music coaching and in seminars I encourage students to listen and work together. We then work on specific passages and techniques which contribute to a good musical outcome. By the end of the week, the student’s improvement is very clear. I believe that my teaching and playing are closely related. What I teach is what I try to apply to my own personal playing, as there is always something to be learned and I find that the best encouragement sometimes comes from the students.”

The faculty members will perform following an introductory meeting on Saturday, June 23 at 10am and will also play as part of the Chamber Music Techniques class on Monday evening, June 25 at 7:30pm in Room B1 of Baird Hall. The public is welcome to come to both of these free events, as well as to the three student performances that include a solo recital on Tuesday, June 26, a string quartet recital on Wednesday, June 27, both in Baird Recital Hall, and a string orchestra performance on Thursday, June 28 in Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall. All three student performances begin at 7:30pm and are also free and open to the public.

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