Music Department

Performance

Chamber Music Society - Frequently Asked Questions

chamber music n. Mus. Compositions traditionally intended for performance in a private room or small concert hall by an instrumental or vocal ensemble, with one player for each part.

  1. What is the Chamber Music Society?
  2. Who auditions when and how?
  3. How are groups formed?
  4. When and where are the results posted?
  5. How and where do we meet?
  6. Who chooses the music?
  7. May I play in more than one group?
  8. Do I have to take chamber music for subject credit?
  9. When and where do we perform?
  10. Who are the coaches?
  11. How much do I need to practice for the coaching lesson?
  12. What are we graded on?
  13. What if I am not assigned to a chamber group?

1. What is the Chamber Music Society?

The Chamber Music Society, coordinated by Professor Marcus Thompson, is comprised of students selected by audition to study and perform classical chamber music and jazz combo literature. Each individual is expected to prepare his/her own part privately, and to rehearse with the other group members in preparation for a weekly lesson with an MIT faculty coach. The ensemble must perform in a recital at the end of each semester in Killian Hall. This subject/activity may be taken for credit: 21M445.


2. Who auditions when and how?

The Chamber Music Society is open first to individual students or pre-formed groups, and second to staff, spouses, and recent alumni. The public auditions for new members and sign-up for returning members take place at the beginning of each semester at 7pm on Registration Day in Killian Hall, 14W-111. Jazz players need not attend these auditions, but must contact Fred Harris on or before Registration Day (fharris@mit.edu), to schedule an individual jazz audition. New players are expected to play/sing one or two pieces of music that show the range of their ability. In addition there will be a short sight-reading skill test. You may audition individually or as a group. The audition is for placement purposes. Returning members, whose level of playing we know, need not re-audition, but do need to attend the auditions and sign up on Reg. Day.


3. How are groups formed?

Groups are formed by matching up players with similar interests and abilities. The actual number of groups formed depends on the number of hours available in the teaching loads of the coaching staff. This may vary from eighteen to twenty-one (instructional hours) each semester. The numbers of students placed depends on the ability to make appropriate matches. Auditioning as a pre-formed group may improve chances for acceptance if the coaches agree that the group is well balanced and can complete a project. Assignment is not guaranteed.


4. When and where are the results posted?

The results will be posted on Friday afternoon by 5pm on the bulletin board in front of Rm. 4-243. Groups are expected to meet over the weekend, contact the coach about a permanent lesson time, read through suggested or similar literature, and finalize the repertoire in the first lesson. If there are questions and adjustments to be made, please contact Marcus Thompson (bratsche@mit.edu) ASAP. Jazz Combo students will be e-mailed regarding their participation. Fred Harris (fharris@mit.edu) may be contacted with any questions.


5. How and where do we meet?

Please read very carefully the notice posted with the list! You will be asked to initial your name wherever it appears, verify correctness of name, email and phone number, take down the names and numbers of people in your group(s), and call/contact them to arrange a reading and lesson time. Music and music stands may be taken out from the Music Library with your ID card. Access to the practice rooms and classrooms is arranged by the Music Office (Rm. 4-246). Jazz Combo students will be contacted by Keala Kaumeheiwa, the coach, regarding the meeting time and location.


6. Who chooses the music?

You may request to work on specific repertoire but the final decision is made by the ensemble members and the coach.


7. May I play in more than one group?

Yes. However, if you are new to MIT and/or to chamber music, we suggest that you start with just one group. If your pre-formed group is placed, we may ask one or members to play in additional group in order to make groups possible where there is a shortage of instruments.


8. Do I have to take chamber music for subject credit?

No, but you will be subject to the same rules ( i.e., preparation and performance requirement, and attendance standards) as those who do. The subject MAY be added until ADD DATE without penalty, but CANNOT be added retroactively in a future semester, should you wish to petition for credits to fulfill a major, minor, concentration, or HASS elective requirement.


9. When and where do we perform?

You are encouraged to arrange performances in music classes, in dormitories, etc. Traditionally, performances are scheduled during the last week of the semester in a series in Killian Hall, 14W-111. The Concerts Office will send you an email request for program information and 3 date/time preferences. Whenever possible, your first choice will be accommodated. However, program order will not be guaranteed. It is expected that you attend the concert from beginning to end and that your friends, in courtesy to the other groups performing, stay for the whole concert as well. Should you want flyers of your concert, to post or give to friends, contact the Concerts Office, Rm. 4-243.


10. Who are the coaches?

Our coaches are all distinguished performers of chamber music in the Boston area and beyond who are also teach music at MIT, including: David Deveau, piano (piano, strings, winds); Jean Rife, horn (winds, piano, voice, strings); Marcus Thompson, viola (strings, piano, winds, voice); Evan Ziporyn and John Harbison, composers (voice, piano, strings, winds). Keala Kaumeheiwa, jazz combos. Coaches are assigned and may not be selected by the students.


11. How much do I need to practice for the coaching lesson?

To get the best out of any lesson, a group must be prepared to play through music that has been individually practiced as well as rehearsed as an ensemble. The amount of time required to get the best results will differ depending on the group, repertoire, and the standard of performance you wish to prepare. Hard work at regular intervals has always produced better performances than last minute preparation. The semester calendar normally allows for ten to eleven coaching sessions. At mid-semester, at least half of the composition (preferably the more difficult half) should have been presented at lessons for coachings.


12. What are we graded on?

The subject is graded P/F for freshmen, and A through F for all others. The grade is divided among weekly preparation, attendance at rehearsals and coachings, and the end of term concert.


13. What if I am not assigned to a chamber group?

If you don't get assigned to a group, you may be placed in a waiting list that we use to place students in ad hoc chamber music groups on a non-credit basis, if and when the opportunity comes up. Students should definitely sign-up again the following semester. Pianists can be assigned to 4-hand or 2-piano groups or to an instrumental or vocal accompaniment option.


MIT Chamber Music Society