Brightmusic Society of Oklahoma
7:30 p.m. Monday Fee Theatre, Casady School
9500 N. Penn 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral
127 N.W. Seventh
Performing pieces by such musical masters as Schoenberg and Strauss, the Brightmusic Society of Oklahoma hosts its third free program of the season, “Sounds from Vienna,” at different venues on Monday and Tuesday. Brightmusic board president David Johnson described the group as a residential chamber music ensemble, meaning that the individuals are music professors and/or performers in the Central Oklahoma area. Most also are past or present members of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.
“These people are sort of the best of the best here in Oklahoma. To have them play in small ensembles is fun for the musicians, as well as fun for the audience.” he said.
Because there are only eight musicians in the group, audience members can experience a more personal performance than larger orchestras.
“The word that people use so much with chamber music is ‘intimate.’ You’re in a smaller setting, you’re in a smaller ensemble, and it has an intimacy to it that makes you wish you were a rich person back in the day, listening to it at a salon,” Johnson said.
Professional musicians enjoy the smaller setting and collaboration that chamber music provides, as well as the opportunity to showcase their individual talents.
“There is a lot more direct interaction among the musicians, which I like,” violinist Gregory Lee said. “During rehearsal, we all discuss together what we want to do musically and how to bring it to a performance level. In some sense, it’s trickier. You can’t just follow the conductor; you have to know what’s going on in all the parts.”
Oboist Lisa Harvey-Reed refers to this omniscient understanding as possessing a high degree of musical communication.
“We have to keep eye contact, moving our instruments in rhythm, breathing together, etc. We essentially become the conductor,” she said.
Each of the season’s concerts is centered on a unique theme. Artistic directors and spouses Chad Burrow and Amy I-Lin Cheng begin by creating a list of possible pieces for the season, then start looking for similar qualities between each.
“Generally, we go with the pieces we love to perform, and also we ask the musicians if there are pieces that they feel strongly about that they’d like to perform,” Cheng said. “In the process, we will try to develop a program that’s both fun and friendly, but also something that’s new and unusual.”
This may include playing lesserknown works or performing pieces by American composers, who are often absent from the orchestral and chamber music arena. Besides performing their behindthe-scenes duties, Burrow and Cheng also serve as musicians in the ensemble: clarinetist and pianist, respectively.
“It’s wonderful to be both the artistic director and be a musician in the group, because we have the immediate and direct knowledge of the music we’re playing and have chosen,” Cheng said.