Princeton University Concerts

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Calling All Amateur String Players:  We Want You!

Feature | Jan 08, 2013 | By Marna Seltzer, Director of Princeton University Concerts
Calling All Amateur String Players:  We Want You!,

One of my favorite books is called "For the Love of It" by Wayne C. Booth.  It is a detailed account of the experience of taking up an instrument as an adult and it reveals what it is to play an instrument solely for joy and personal accomplishment.  Wayne (sadly, now deceased) was an English Professor at the University of Chicago and an amateur cellist.  I was privileged to play string quartets with him when I was living in Chicago.  He is the only person I have ever played with who would openly weep during reading sessions.  I'd look over at a particularly profound moment -- especially in the Beethoven quartets -- and he would be wiping away tears.

His love of chamber music and devotion to the repertoire was memorable but not unique.  There were many "Wayne Booths" in my audience when I was presenting concerts at The University of Chicago and I always thought that they brought an energy and focus to the audience that made listening to concerts in Chicago special.

The same is true in Princeton and, in some ways, the culture is made even richer by all of the students who play music.  Have you heard the Princeton University Orchestra lately?  Wow! They could rival any major conservatory orchestra. The only difference? Their members spend most of their time in the Chemistry Lab or the Woodrow Wilson School.  They might go on to read string quartets for the rest of their lives, like I have, but it will be For the Love of It.

Last season we organized an informal orchestral reading when members from Ensemble ACJW were visiting campus.  It was a low-key affair, planned during an exam week at Princeton.  We offered students a chance to take a break from studying and asked the professional musicians of ACJW if they would read a Beethoven Symphony alongside Princeton students.  We also invited subscribers to join.  The result was magical.  The energy in the room and the raw enthusiasm for the music was unforgettable.  In fact, we originally planned to read just two movements of Beethoven's 2nd Symphony but the collective "aww" in the room when we reached the end of the second movement convinced everyone to press on.  At the end, there were whoops of joy and spontaneous applause. For the Love of It is exactly what it was.  We decided then and there that we would try to make this into an annual event on a much larger scale.

So, imagine hearing two dozen of the very best young string players in the country play music they love with all the passion and fire at their command.  Now imagine that, as a bonus, they ask YOU to play with them.  That is exactly what will happen when "ECCO" - the East Coast Chamber Orchestra - makes its Princeton debut on our series on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 7:30PM.   We've been saying that this concert will be like winning the lottery, minus the taxes (although odds are much better!).  Even if you're not concertizing yourself, we hope that the experience will reverberate for a very long time.

So please join us to play or just to listen.  The musicians of ECCO are absurdly good.  If you don't know them, check out this video.  Their energy leaps off the screen.  You may recognize violinist Nick Kendall, who made a splash on our series last year with Time for Three.  ECCO will play most of the concert on its own but, in between, every string player with an instrument in tow will be invited to perform with them.  We hope it will be a reminder to us all that playing music and listening to music is a communal experience that we choose For the Love of It.


To participate in the Community Reading with ECCO call the Concert Office at 609-258-2800 or e-mail us your name, phone number and instrument. You must sign up by February 1, 2013. Space is limited so act quickly. All participants must have concert tickets.  Ticket prices for this concert are unusually low, just $10 General and $5 Student.  MORE INFORMATION>


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