CHATHAM, NJ - The sounds of rabbits, horses and boars springing from a string quartet grabbed the imagination Sunday of students treated to a Lyrica educational outreach program.
Over 45 students and parents in area SCEEP programs attended the pre-concert session with the Osso String Quartet at the Presbyterian Church of Chatham Township. SCEEP, which stands for Suburban Cultural Educational Enrichment Program, provides one-on-one tutoring to Newark students at 20 sites located throughout northern New Jersey churches, synagogues, corporations, universities and private schools.
The Osso String Quartet has contributed string arrangements to Sufjan Stevens’s Illinois, and to My Brightest Diamond’s Bring Me the Workhorse. Members of Osso have also worked with an array of artists including Jay-Z, Alice and Ravi Coltrane, The National, Devotchka and Kanye West.
Adam Waite, artistic director of Lyrica Chamber Music, said the Osso quartet was the perfect group to introduce to SCEEP students because of the quartet’s diverse range of music. “We are meeting the kids halfway in terms of offering different styles of music. Our hope is that the next time the students hear string music, they will think of the musicians and the unique sounds they heard today.”
The quartet played selections from its album Run Rabbit Run, a reworking of Mr. Stevens’s 2001 instrumental album Enjoy Your Rabbit. The selections included songs named for a year of the Chinese zodiac. The SCEEP students described how the music made them feel: scared as if they were being chased by a boar (Year of the Boar) or calmed with soothing sounds in the Year of the Horse.
Featured in Sunday’s concert was the premiere of Timothy Cooper’s “Psalm.” Mr. Cooper, who is pursuing a master’s degree in music composition at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was the third annual young composer’s competition winner. Mr. Waite said there were about 30 applicants for the contest from all over the U.S. as well as Russia, New Zealand and Serbia. The winner was granted a $1,000 honorarium.
The Lyrica Chamber Orchestra, in its 24th season, will present its next concert, “Mozart’s Masterpiece,” on April 17 at 3 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church of Chatham Township. Included in the program will be the Mozart Requiem.