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ARCHIVE: Kinetic (January 2016)

Originally published 1/17/2016


This afternoon was the second of three concerts in the inaugural season of Kinetic, a 16-member “conductorless” string ensemble comprised of musicians from the Shepherd School of Music. The concert took place in the spacious acoustics of Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church and showed noticeable growth from Kinetic’s excellent first concert last October. Organized and discreetly led by the talented violinist Natalie Lin, the ensemble presented works by twentieth-century composers Ireland, Ysaye, and Bloch. When the concert began I noticed individual players, admiring their fine execution and concentration. Gradually, a picture of the whole ensemble emerged, wherein everyone seemed to be moving together, led by a unified concept. This was fine chamber music played large. While all the works were expertly played, the gem for me was the sole second half work, Ernest Bloch’s Concerto Grosso No. 1. The opening section was fabulous for its precision of ensemble and phrasing. The attention to detail never subsided throughout the work. The second movement, Dirge, was expressive and tonally colorful. The third movement featured beautiful violin and viola solos along with British-sounding rustic dances. The conclusion of the third movement was so stirring that many of us wanted to applaud at that moment. Fortunately, it was not the end, since the next movement begins with a highly chromatic fugue initiated by the excellent viola section. Kinetic’s rendition of the work was as fine as any commercial recording I have heard.


The overall impression today was a favorable comparison to such stellar ensembles as St. Martin in the Fields. The standard of performance throughout the concert demonstrated a high artistic regard for underserved composers and pieces. In this way alone, Kinetic provides a valuable service. There is also value in seeing how these young people arrived at consensus through animated discussions in limited rehearsals. The end result has each and every one of them invested in the outcome. It is not a stretch to imagine, by extension, an ideal society where people express themselves freely and, having been heard, join in a common goal. Remarkably, all this is done with contributions alone sustaining the project. Their next concert is May 8, at the new Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston. See you there.

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