Meet Class Notes Artists Odelia Trio

by Claire Philpott, Minnesota Public Radio
February 3, 2014
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ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Odelia Trio have certainly hit the ground running. Formed only last summer, they made their debut in October, featuring in the Rochester Chamber Music Society in Rochester, Minn., and the Old Main Gale Star concert series in Galesville, Wis., with a program of music by Mozart, Mendelssohn and Gershwin.

Artistic Director of the Rochester Chamber Music Society, Horacio Nuguid (piano), along with Kathleen Lamb (violin), and Rachael Ryan Dahlgren (cello), formed Odelia with the mutual desire to spread the love for chamber music and the belief that live music enriches the community. The word "Odelia" comes from Old Greek oide meaning "song", referring to a song sung at a public performance.

With a program focused on the experience of playing chamber music, the Odelia Trio use metaphors their young audience can easily grasp to understand how chamber music works. The members of Odelia compare playing in a chamber ensemble to playing a team sport, where the melody is passed around from instrument to instrument like a ball. Chamber music is also like a lively conversation, where the participants sometimes argue or interrupt each other, or even whisper. Whichever metaphor you choose, however, the musicians must be very in tune with each other (in more ways than one), looking at each other and breathing together when they start a piece or new phrase and always, always listening.

The trio use several movements from the Mozart Divertimento for Piano Trio in Bb and Mendelssohn Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor to illustrate differences in musical form and style. Mozart and Mendelssohn were not really that far apart in terms of years active (Mozart was active from 1756 to 1791, and Mendelssohn from 1809 to 1847) but chamber music evolved significantly between those years — in fact, musical eras evolved from the Classical style into the Romantic style over the same period.

To illustrate the differences, in Mendelssohn's trio, for example, the cello has as prominent a melody role as the violin, unlike in the Mozart where the cello is firmly a bass accompaniment. The cello, violin and piano all take turns "singing" the melody in the "song without words" movement of the Mendelssohn (listen to the feature audio). The trio also present the contrasting (but related!) third movements of the two pieces. Typical of the Classical period, the third movement of the Mozart is a Minuet, a fast-slow-fast dance in 3/4 time. The third movement of the Mendelssohn is a Scherzo, a lively and humorous Romantic-era descendant of the Minuet, that is often also in triple meter (though not in this case) and has the same AABBA form.

During their performance, Odelia involve the audience several times, engaging the kids' observation skills, for instance, as they challenge the youngsters to figure out how the trio can start a piece at the same time — an example of one student suggestion: "You could wink at each other to start together."

At the end of the performance, the students get a lot of time to ask their own questions. Questions such as "How much do you practice?", or "How come piano lids open up?", or "What is the thing underneath the cello?" [end pin] are great examples of how these live-music performances can ignite children's curiosity.

Here is what members of the Odelia Trio had to say about giving educational performances:

"I enjoy sharing my love of music with kids. It's wonderful to see their enthusiasm and bright eager minds soaking up the music. I believe music is a core component of a well-rounded education, and it's great to be a part of bringing good, live, classical music to so many youngsters in the community." — Kathleen Lamb

"It is such a joy and a privilege to perform for the schools. For many of the children, it may be a first-time experience with classical music, and I love being a part of that moment of discovery. Their wonder and excitement renews my own passion for chamber music and refreshes a sense of gratitude that music is a part of our lives...something which can too often be taken for granted." — Rachel Ryan Dahlgren

"I value educational performances because they bring the inspiration and appreciation of music, otherwise staged only in evening concerts, to the school children. It is a tremendous opportunity to introduce classical music to those young minds." — Horacio Nuguid

Audio:

  • Felix Mendelssohn: Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49 — Andante con moto tranquillo
  • W. A. Mozart: Divertimento for Piano Trio in B-flat Major, K. 254 — I. Allegro assai

Schools:

  • Pinewood Elementary — Rochester, Minn.
  • Franklin Elementary — Rochester, Minn.
  • Churchill Elementary — Rochester, Minn.
  • Hoover Elementary — Rochester, Minn.
  • Longfellow Elementary — Rochester, Minn.
  • Sunset Terrace Elementary — Rochester, Minn.

About the Classical MPR Class Notes Artists program this year

Now in its fifth year, the Class Notes Artists program at Classical MPR brings performers to elementary schools throughout the state of Minnesota to give educational concerts. Each performance includes a presentation about the Artists' respective instruments, as well as the style, technique, history, and traditions related to the music that they perform.

The Artists are selected for the quality of their musicianship, and for their interest in promoting music education. This year, the following Artists will collectively travel to over 50 schools in four different geographical hubs.

  • Lyz Jaakola — Greater Bemidji area

  • Silver Spruce Duo — Duluth, Cloquet, and the North Shore
  • Dolce Wind Quintet — Twin Cities
  • Artaria String Quartet — Twin Cities
  • Minneapolis Guitar Quartet — Twin Cities
  • Vecchione/Erdahl Duo — Twin Cities
  • Odelia Trio — Rochester

These performances are supported by Minnesota music education standards-based curriculum designed by Classical MPR's Curriculum Specialist. These lessons and activities are given to music teachers in advance of each Artist's visit, and are to be used as learning materials for before and/or after each performance.

Students at participating schools will also receive an MPR-produced compilation CD featuring the year's Artists, allowing students to experience a wide range of different musical styles and ensembles. The 2013-14 album, A Musical History Tour is also available to stream online.

Classical MPR's goal for the Class Notes Artist program is to create authentic and transformative experiences for young pupils that will inspire their creative pursuits, and be a meaningful addition to what they are already learning from their music teachers.


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