The global pandemic didn’t stop a group of Mannes Prep students from performing their final chamber music piece together. The eight viola, violin and cello students recorded themselves playing the fourth movement from Mendelssohn’s String Octet in E flat major, Op. 20 separately. Graduating senior Benedikt Winzer coordinated, edited and timed his video with the others into one powerful performance he posted on YouTube.
“Going into this year, we specifically requested to play the Mendelssohn Octet because we wanted to have the most fun possible, especially for the seniors in the group like myself,” Winzer said. “COVID-19 hit after the first semester and we did not want to just do nothing.”
The students in the video include:
Victoria Arsenicos – Violin
Alexander Diaz – Viola
Antia-Mae Kahan – Cello
Asher Kalfus – Cello
Emilee Kitmahawong – Violin
Rachel Lim – Violin
Rohan Luthra – Viola
Benedikt Winzer – Violin
Students in Mannes Prep chamber ensembles work closely together in small groups, under the supervision of a faculty member. This group’s chamber coach was Eileen Buck. Each semester, the Chamber Music program culminates with a student performance called the Chamber Bash. These performances are typically open to the public, but this year forced the students to come up with a more creative solution.
“It was a lot of time spent but since we were stuck inside all day I had spare time to use,” said Winzer, who estimated that it took eight hours to make the video.
“First, I had to make a metronome click track because the tempo changes slightly throughout the movement and that needed to be coordinated between the players. Next, I needed to record my part to the metronome in order for the other members to have an easier time playing, because it is really hard to play a part with absolutely no context in your ears. After the members recorded their videos, I had to coordinate the audio, which took a bit of editing since at certain points players weren’t perfectly in time. After the soundtrack was finalized, I coordinated the videos to each part in the sound track and then it was done!”
“Of course, a video will never be as good as the real thing, but we wanted to make the best out of the situation, especially since I had experience with audio and video software,” he said.
Winzer reflected on some of his most memorable moments at Mannes, which included his performance with the Mannes Prep Philharmonic as a concerto competition winner.
“It was the first time I performed with an orchestra and an unforgettable experience,” he said, adding that the musicians he met at Mannes made it a unique place.
“The faculty and students are all so collaborative! I really like the feeling that everyone is there to create beautiful music and not to beat each other out in the next competition. That’s what I think music is all about and that’s why Mannes was the right place for me.”
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