One of the fantastic things about my time at the Gesher Festival was that I got to perform chamber music for lots of people who don’t normally hear it. And I’m not just talking about our performance at the juvenile detention center for poor, incarcerated kids. I’m also talking about our ticketed series concerts, where music lovers — who normally attend the Saint Louis Symphony — decided to give chamber music a try.

And what did they seem to notice, above all else?

Our faces.

(“Is it me, or does the first violinist look scared?!”)

At the juvenile detention center, the seriousness, intensity, and variety of our facial expressions (and physical movements) caused nervous laughter to break out among the kids several times. They especially loved Dominic.

(Classic Dominic face; listening intently, yet also chillin’.)

At the series concerts, with the more experienced audiences, I realized it was about more than our faces, actually. It was about us. The audience was acutely, deeply, personally aware of us: the people playing the music! After all, the experience of seeing a trio play in an intimate space is completely different from watching the symphony — a sea of faces, sometimes seen from a great distance. The comments I received after the concerts were really, really interesting. “You play with your face! It’s like watching a whole drama unfold!” “You guys are like dancers up there — I had no idea!” “Are ALL string quartets THIS INTENSE!?”

This discovery — that chamber music novices often become fixated on the performers as much as the music — is an important one for the quartet as we consider how we present ourselves in performance.  After Gesher, we’ve decided we need to video-record ourselves more frequently in order to see how  we come across visually. Obviously, people listen with their eyes!

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