Despite being made up of just eight Harvard students, the powerful instrumental melody of the River Charles Ensemble reverberated throughout Paine Hall on April 16 as they celebrated their 10th anniversary with a spring concert.
Founded with the intention of providing a collaborative environment for every type of musician in college, the River Charles Ensemble is conductorless and performs a variety of pieces from solos to chamber music involving the full orchestra . For their concert, they performed three arrangements: “Vienna Miniature March”, “Theme and Variations for Flute and String Quartet, Op.80” and “Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op.44”. Each piece featured a different selection of musicians and brought a unique purpose to the whole performance.
The Ensemble opened its concert with “Miniature Viennese March” by Fritz Kreisler, highlighting the talents of students Olivia Glunz ’25, Joanna Boyland ’23 and Clara Nguyen ’23, respectively on violin, cello and piano – a trio who captivated observers with their talent. Audience member Stephon A. Fagan-Avery ’23 cited Boyland’s technique as one of his favorite moments from the entire show.
“I really liked the pinching motion and the sound [the cello] done,” Fagan-Avery said.
This piece was followed by Amy Beach’s “Theme and Variations for Flute and String Quartet, Op.80”, which featured all members of the ensemble. Navigating a repetitive melody with fluctuating tempos, the ensemble stayed in sync as it moved faster and slower, never missing a beat.
The set included a range of musical styles that musicians could explore and observers could appreciate. Audience member Ryan J. Golemme ’23 said one of his favorite parts of the performance was “seeing the changes in styles throughout” the night.
Finally, the River Charles Ensemble closed with “Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op.44” by Robert Schumann, a rather romantic instrumental piece that mixed energy with slower and more emotional moments. It made for a memorable close of the chamber orchestra ensemble.
For some in attendance, the show perfectly captured the spirit of collegiate chamber music. Audience member Tammy J. McLeod said, “In college I was a music student, so it took me back to when I was performing this high-level music.”
Listeners were also impressed with the strength of the performance considering the small size of the set. Audience member Ryan J. Golemme ’23 exclaimed, “I had no idea the River Charles was that small, they still managed to sound really big and have a lot of different moving parts…I I thought that was really impressive.