Parisienne

What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way? (300 words)


The sound of my bassoon echoed throughout the Kennedy Center, supporting the upper register of the flute, oboe, and clarinet. I locked eyes with the flautist, sitting directly across from me, and with the quick movement of his flute, the four of us cut off together. The sound from our final chord resonated throughout the hall and the four of us looked at each other, beaming with pride.

We had just finished playing Quatuor Parisienne by Charles Fernandez, the resultant performance taking place after months of practicing. When my quartet first got this piece, it seemed very strange and incohesive. The polyrhythms and atonal chords were unfamiliar, given that we were all classically trained. Hours were spent perfectly balancing the chords and making sure the rhythms seamlessly interlocked. We wrote a story to go with the music and assigned our instruments characters, helping to better emote the piece. Music for woodwind quartets is challenging in the way that it is not four people playing four different instruments - it is four people playing one instrument: the quartet itself. We attended numerous masterclasses in the D.C area, soaking in every bit of knowledge and technique we could. Our performance at the Kennedy Center though,...

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