Chamber Players

Williams Chamber Players

The Williams College Department of Music presents the Williams Chamber Players in concert on Saturday, Oct. 20, at 8 p.m. in Chapin Hall on the Williams College campus. This free event is open to the public.

The Williams Chamber Players perform in Chapin Hall to take advantage of the resonant acoustics of this grand space. Handel “Eternal Source of Light Divine” from the Birthday Ode for Queen Anne, HWV 7 sets the tone for the evening as soprano Kerry Ryer-Parke joins with trumpeter Nathan Botts to present this jewel of the late Baroque. Both musicians are Artist Associates at Williams and regular contributors to the Williams Chamber Players.  This performance gives the audience a rare chance to hear two soprano voices together, one human, and one brass, and offers a wonderful introduction to the natural trumpet, a brass instrument that looks like a long herald trumpet, but without any mechanical means of changing notes as found on modern trumpets. Relying heavily on the trumpeter’s ability to play in the upper register, this ancestor of the modern trumpet has a distinctive and noble sound, and a unique place in the development of western music. Mr. Botts also performs the Biber Sonata for Baroque Trumpet which includes a quartet of Williams Chamber Players strings featuring Joanna Kurkowicz and Joana Genova, violin; Ah ling Neu, viola; and Nathaniel Parke, cello. Edwin Lawrence plays harpsichord. Joanna Kurkowicz, Ronald Feldman and Doris Stevenson play Beethoven’s Piano Trio op. 1 No.1, full of wit and youthful exuberance, to close the first half.

The second half features Igor Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat (The Soldier’s Tale.) Narrated by Keith Kibler, Artist Associate in Voice at Williams, the piece tells the story of a soldier’s pact with the devil, how he defeats the devil, finds love, but ultimately must reckon with his fate. The violin, the instrument of the soldier and the devil takes the lead role, played by Joanna Kurkowicz, who is also the concert master for the Berkshire Symphony and artist in residence at Williams. Susan Martula’s clarinet plays its part as a counterpoint to the violin with a maniacal will of its own. The pianist and artist in residence Doris Stevenson brackets the wayward clarinet and devilish violin with demonically shifting rhythms, a high octane Stravinsky cocktail of jazz, ragtime, honky-tonk, and waltzes from Vienna.

The Williams Chamber Players is a resident chamber ensemble, founded at Williams College in 1999. Its purpose is to present concerts for the college and community throughout the academic year. Antecedents of the Williams Chamber Players are The Williams Trio, founded in 1970, and the Group for 20th Century Music, founded in 1989. Repertoire for concerts is drawn from the standard chamber music repertoire with special attention to music of the 20th and 21st centuries, and to music by Williams composers. Musicians are normally drawn from the ranks of Artists in Residence, Artist Associates, and other faculty, as well as occasional visiting artists.