Also featuring photos from our monthly supplement...

DPO’s Principal Quartet graces Schuster stage

The very soul of a symphony orchestra is its principal artists.  To play the complex orchestral music, written as if each section were one voice, depends upon the principal player in each of the many sections.  

An example easily understandable to non-musicians, and I am one of those, is the bowing by the string players.  You will notice that each string section, first and second violins, violas, celli and double basses, all bow together.  This is not done for uniformity of appearance but to keep the sound together in una voce, one voice.  

I have learned that there is even more language in the bowing technique.  The principal of each section will signal the intensity of the note by bowing higher on the bow, visible to the other players.  These subtleties make the great sound we hear from our marvelous orchestra.

Artistry such as this is reflected in the total effect of the music, not dissimilar to the workings of a surgery team in handling tissues.  The conductor, what does he do?  

A conductor brings his ear and musical knowledge to color the performance of the orchestra. The baton signals tempo and rhythms. In rehearsal, all of this is brought together through the principal players and thence to each of the musicians.

Now that we have established how talented and important our principal players are, what do they like to do when the orchestra is not playing?  The answer is universal – chamber music.

The chamber musician is a complete section of the orchestra distilled into one voice. There is no conductor.  The interplay of the parts requires intrinsic communication – a nod, a breath, a look are all the “secret” signals of one artist to another to keep the music in its heavenly harmony.  

Our orchestra has a string quartet made up of its principal players. Beginning decades ago as an outreach group playing in nursing homes and schools, the Principal Quartet is now a part of the orchestra’s season.  

Over the years the personnel have changed but, as a listener, I have always been impressed by the high level of their performances. The present quartet’s artists are Concertmaster Jessica Hung, principal second violinist Kirstin Greenlaw, principal violist Sheridan Currie and principal cellist Andra Lunde Padrichelli.

We hear these wonderful musicians playing solos in orchestral works.  When they get together as a quartet, it is all solos and they can “let it all hang out.”  As a special reward to the orchestra’s supporters, the quartet put on a most unusual concert on Dec. 6.  The Schuster stage was set for that evening’s classical concert. The guests sat in the orchestra’s chairs.  The quartet played in front of the back of the podium. This was real chamber music as it was meant to be.  

A Haydn quartet and Joaquin Torino’s mellifluous A Matador’s Prayer made up the program.  We sat, practically in the laps of the artists.  This made hearing the music and watching the dynamics of these wonderful young artists so exciting. The complexities of the Haydn, the father of the string quartet, are wonderful to hear.  To see them in action is even more wonderful.

The present stars of the Principal Quartet all came to Dayton for the musical opportunity. As a regional orchestra, the Dayton Philharmonic is a superstar. The consensus is that Dayton has the conductor, the magnificent hall and a collection of fine musicians playing a season of exciting music before an appreciative audience.
The two original members of the quartet are Kirstin Greenlaw and Sheridan Currie.

Kirsten came to Dayton to become our concertmaster for several seasons.  She was educated at Interlochen Arts Academy, DePauw University, Vienna, Austria and. Florida State. Now principal 2nd violinist, she is active with chamber groups in Cincinnati and with the Lucca Music Festival in Italy. She loves the appreciative audiences of Dayton, the Schuster performance space and working with outstanding guest artists.

Sheridan Currie has been with the orchestra for 11 years. Originally from Baltimore, she received her music education at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.  The DPO offer has made her a devoted Daytonian. She is an orchestra star, wife and mother of a darling daughter, with another offspring arriving in late spring. She has had important solos with the orchestra and loves playing the interesting and challenging music.  

Andra Lunde Padrichelli followed a similar course. She comes from a family steeped in music. Her education began at Eastman and Indiana University schools of Music. She was accepted into the New World Symphony.  Next came the offer to join the Dayton Philharmonic as principal cellist.  

Other opportunities led her to take a leave of absence and play with Cincinnati and Fort Worth orchestras. She is pleased to be back among her colleagues at the Philharmonic taking great pride in the music-making. The orchestral solos for the cello are important and exciting.  Andra loves playing them.  

When Emmanuel Ax played Brahms’ second Piano Concerto, Andra had an extended cello solo. During the standing ovations, Ax ran across the podium and pulled Andra to her feet to accept yet another bow. Andra balances her orchestral leadership, chamber music, teaching with her role as a wife and mother.  

Our concertmaster Jessica Hung is brand new on the scene. She fits in like a veteran with the orchestra, Maestro Neal and the audience.  Jessica is one of the “kinetic” violinists.  Her movements from her first chair are impossible to miss and fun to watch.

Jessica selection as Concertmaster just after her graduate education marks her as a prodigy. She considers the Philharmonic to be her highest level orchestra.  She is also the concertmaster of the Annapolis, Maryland Symphony.

Our young quartet of great artists is lovely and engaging.  From top to bottom, our orchestra is superb.  Thank you, Dayton Philharmonic.

Artist photos on display at Brown Street shop 

Oakwood resident and amateur photographer Toshio Tamaki was born in China and raised in Japan. He retains his Japanese nationality. He lived in the Boston area for 19 years and moved to Dayton in 1989. Since then he has lived in Oakwood with his wife and two children and two dogs.

While he has been working for one of the major national staffing agencies as an executive in the international division, photography has been his passion and he has produced numerous art prints and two published books. His main interest is to interpret the world in juxtaposition of the real and surreal, preserving the incidents as timeless moments.

Brown Oak Studio, 860 Brown St., has 23 black and white prints from Tamaki’s book, The Stranger, on display at the store through Dec. 29.


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December 23, 2008
Volume 17, No. 52

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