Trio Emet brings new life to chamber music

Trio Emet brings new life to chamber music

February 26, 2016

Chamber music, a division of classical music known for its scarce instrumentation, has long been the preferred form of classical music for harboring an intimate relationship between performers and audience. No exception to this was Slosberg Music Center’s concert, “brb,” performed by one of Brandeis’ own chamber music groups, Trio Emet.

Deriving its name from the Hebrew “emet,” meaning truth—which also happens to be found on the Brandeis University seal—undergraduates Jacob MacKay ’16 and Natsuko Yamagata ’17, and graduate student Eric Elder, founded the group in the fall of 2014 in order to pursue their passion of gaining exposure to all types of music with the intent to perform concerts of their own as a trio in the future. Having performed only at outreach concerts off-campus, it was not until this performance that the musicians had truly made their unique mark on campus as a group, though each performer undoubtedly has spectacular skill in other aspects of musical performance as well.

Standing for Beethoven, Rota and Brahms, Trio Emet’s “brb” featured a wide selection of widely popular pieces of chamber music, such as Beethoven’s Trio in B-flat major, Op. 11 and lesser known pieces like that of Nino Rota, who won an Academy Award for his work composing for “The Godfather.” Though dynamic and variant in both style and feel, all songs performed displayed similar qualities such as the repetition in phrasing and perfectly distributed harmonies typical of the chamber music genre, though with the use of a clarinet in place of the more traditional violin.

MacKay, the cellist of the group, has an extensive musical background beginning at age four when he first began studying violin, ultimately converting to the cello at age seven. On working with Yamagata and Elder, MacKay says, “My peers (like Eric and Natsuko) have encouraged me to delve deeper into the music and understand what the composer’s intentions truly are. I have also been lucky enough to learn from musicians who do not play western classical music.” This extensive education and experience within the world of music is definitely evident in MacKay’s performing, as his music seems to wring every ounce of emotion possible from the black and white notes of the sheet music. MacKay states, “In my brief introduction to the music of other cultures, I have learned the importance of spontaneity in performance, and a genuine emotional connection between players, and to the music itself.” A double major in Environmental Studies and Cello Performance, MacKay, while he struggles to find academic overlap between the two areas of study, suggests the importance of maintaining an active musical education. “Music has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember, and has influenced my work ethic, personality, and worldview in more ways than I am probably aware,” he says, “It has allowed me to meet extraordinary artists from all over the world, and connect with audiences and colleagues on a fundamental level.”

Though all performers shown equally as bright that night, Yamagata, with no disregard to the estimable ability of MacKay or Elder, undoubtedly seemed to leave the greatest impression on audience members, seemingly acting as the figurative glue of the pieces, as many unsung pianists of triplets do, while still maintaining an outward presence in the pieces. Having started performing around age three, as she mentions is commonplace in Japan, as well as having deep-seated family roots in piano music, Yamagata expresses a “ready-to-go” toward music performance. While she expresses an impressive amount of rhythmic tact, she surely does not let that take away from the the emotion and perceivable imagery of the music. A pre-med student with interest in Chemistry and Francophone Studies, Yamagata remarks how, though the workload is incredibly intensive, music still remains a vital part of her life. “I really enjoy each and all of them. If it weren’t for all the music opportunities, I in fact would have crashed mentally,” she says. “Although I love the sciences and I hope for a medical career in the future, such life is non-existent without music.”

Though occurring on the same night as the infamous “Superbowl Sunday,” Trio Emet’s phenomenal performance undeniably provided a sensory experience far superior to that of seeing your favorite team score a touchdown. Though attracting only a meager amount of audience members that a free performance of this caliber should have, and being a group of performers this spectacular, Trio Emet is sure to have events in the future that match the excellence of “brb.” Likewise, be sure to be on the lookout for each of the performers as they play in other ensembles around campus, and are definitely class act you will not want to miss.

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