Rice University: 7 nights of streaming: Spring chamber music festival goes virtual

Even as many performance venues remain shuttered, Rice University Shepherd School students continue to do what they do best. The biannual Chamber Music Festival will once again be offered in a virtual format through the school’s YouTube channel May 17-23.

New festival performances will post throughout the week at 7 p.m. Norman Fischer, the Herbert S. Autrey Professor of Cello and director of chamber music at the Shepherd School, said he continues to be impressed by the willingness of students to adapt to the unique performing environment. The students have continued to wear masks and socially distance and get tested for COVID-19 a few times per week so they can rehearse safely.

“The Spring 2021 Chamber Music Festival features a wide array of music that covers four centuries, with the oldest work from the 1720s and the most recent only weeks old,” he said. “The repertoire in this string and piano grouping is a mixture of prominent masterworks — such as late Beethoven string quartets, Brahms piano quartets, the Dvorak ‘Dumky trio’ and more. We’re also including some fabulous works by composers we rarely hear, such as Genzmer, Ligeti, Taneyev and Clara Schumann.”

Fischer said the concerts are a celebration of the ability to make music during a difficult period of time.

“On a daily basis, the groups have been learning this repertoire wearing masks and sitting more than 6 feet apart, which makes the process even more challenging,” he said. “But spirits are high amongst our talented students and they are embracing the adventure, discovering the inner workings of the music.”

The performances were prerecorded in the school’s new Lucian and Nancy Morrison Theater. Two students studying remotely recorded their performances in San Diego.