Symphony quartet’s music soars at Groveport Town Hall

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By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

Messenger photos by Rick Palsgrove
The Columbus Symphony Orchestra String Quartet performed on the Groveport Town Hall stage on Oct. 29. Pictured here, from left to right, are: Alicia Hui, first violin; Robert Firdman, second violin; Joe Mueller, cello; and Karl Pedersen, viola.

Beautiful music filled the air as the Columbus Symphony Orchestra String Quartet performed for a large audience at Groveport Town Hall on Oct. 29.

Robert Firdman, who plays second violin in the quartet and who has been with the Columbus Symphony for 33 years, said the musicians selected classical music pieces for the Groveport Town Hall performance that were recognizable.

“We wanted to present the music from different countries in Europe and include composers such as Mozart and Bach,” said Firdman.

Performing in a string quartet brings the music closer to the audience, according to Firdman.

Alicia Hui, first violin, performing.

“A string quartet is more intimate,” said Firdman. “It’s just four voices (instruments) that are concise and coherent. It’s very accessible for the audience.”

Audience member Mindy Brooks who attended the concert agreed stating, “I love the intimacy of a quartet. I like that I can pick out and hear each instrument. The viola can sound so haunting. In a small setting like this I can close my eyes as I listen to the music and imagine how different the world was when the composers wrote this music and, that in spite of how much the world has changed, their music is still very much alive today.”

Firdman said the Groveport Town Hall auditorium, which was built in 1876, is a joy to perform in.

“This is a great room with good space and a lot of vibrancy to it,” said Firdman. “I love these old buildings.”

Firdman said classical music has much value for contemporary society.

“It’s music that stands the test of time,” said Firdman. “It’s music that can provide solace and ways to reconnect with oneself. In today’s world there are so many distractions and this music helps contemplation and introspection as well as being able to energize you. The music is like a language, almost like reading a book. That’s the magic.”

The quartet performed music by Bach, Mozart, Ravel and Elgarde among others.

First violinist Alicia Hui radiated energy as she swayed and moved, immersing herself in the music, almost dancing in her chair. Her skill was evident throughout the performance, most notably during Massenet’s “Meditation (Thais),” when she held a long, soft, delicate note on her violin, a sound that as it dissipated seemed to embrace the audience.

Joe Mueller on cello provided sounds that were warm and full and which somehow were both soothing and driven.

Karl Pedersen on viola expressed the emotions of the music both on his face and through the sounds floating from his viola.

Firdman played with a deep feeling for the music and with intense concentration.

All the while, the audience listened with rapt attention, many with their eyes closed.

The quartet ended the performance with Mozart’s “Eine Kleine,” which even if you do not recognize the name, you would recognize this familiar and popular piece of music.

“It’s party music,” said Firdman as he introduced the Mozart piece. “It’s still commonly heard and performed today.”

Daren Fuster, personnel manager for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, said the quartet’s appearance at Town Hall was made possible by a donor to the orchestra.

“She (the donor) has a passion for music and our message,” said Fuster. “Not everyone is able to come to downtown Columbus to hear the orchestra and this outreach program enables us to bring music to people in other communities.”

The orchestra’s outreach program sends different ensembles – such as brass, woodwind, and string quartets – out to perform at venues including schools, hospitals, retirement communities, libraries, museums, as well as places like Groveport Town Hall.

“Inviting the Columbus Symphony Orchestra string quartet to Town Hall was an excellent opportunity for residents and our local communities to come to Town Hall and enjoy the fantastic sounds of the orchestra,” said Groveport Town Hall Program Coordinator Cristy Duckworth. “The concert was free thanks to the orchestra’s community engagement program. We like to expose people to all types of music and Town Hall’s ballroom provides the perfect spot to be with friends and family and enjoy performances.”

Duckworth said she hopes to bring the Columbus Symphony Orchestra back to Town Hall in 2018.

“We are in the planning stage for this to happen,” she said.
For information on the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, visit columbussymphony.com.

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