Conundrum are (L to R): Marianne Breneman (clarinet), Danielle Lundley (flute), Mary Elizabeth Southworth (soprano), and Philip Amalong (piano)
Ohio-based chamber ensemble Conundrum are gearing up to make a promising CD of original pieces written for them by various living composers, and they need the help of the listeners through the mighty Kickstarter! Click here or on the bottom link to check it out and to make a donation!
The group’s soprano Mary Elizabeth Southworth explains how the ensemble took shape.
“The main idea, when we started out, was that we just made music with friends, and then we figured that the rep would follow. Our concerts consisted mostly of duos, trios, solos, and then slowly, after the first year, we would find these ensemble pieces or we would have something transcribed for us, and the second year things were going so well, composers were submitting new works for us, and that year we were also invited to do the Fresno New Music Festival, which was really exciting, because from that we got 2 of our mainstay works. Hailstones, by Kenneth Froelich, and The Ocean by Eric D. Sharp.
“He’s a leading tone!” quipped Danielle Hundley, the group’s flutist (EDITOR’S NOTE: Nearly ten seconds passed before I caught the joke)!
Ravel: Chansons Madécasses (Live in Oh, 2009)
This group is another set of people strongly dedicated to audience outreach with new and inventive ways of redefining the experience for their listeners.
“We’ve always included that from our very first concert,” Mary continues, “Talking to the audience, telling them either about the piece or some quirky fact that is not even related to the piece or might be, or how we came to the piece, and audiences go away really connecting to the piece more because of it”.
Clarinetist Marianne Breneman picks up on this point. “We always sort of discuss the fact that so much chamber music is meant to be intimate, and yet
there seems to be a divide between the audience and the musicians, and we always said we didn’t want to be like zoo animals, where they just came and watched us and then left. We wanted to engage with them and interact with them. For several years, we did a really great self-produced concert in a Cincinnati park, in an indoor pavilion, but we set it up like a living room with rugs and floor lamps, intimate lighting like candles, and we had food and wine. We even said ‘Feel free to get another glass of wine while we’re playing. We don’t care!’ Let’s make it an intimate setting–A salon concert like it was meant to be. Those were some of our most successful concerts because people like to feel comfortable, and they like to feel inspired, but they don’t want to go to something where they don’t feel like they get it, or where they’re held to a certain standard of behavior”.
Stravinsky: Vocalise (Live in OH, 2009)
When Conundrum reaches its goal of $8,000 from their crowd-funded Kickstarter, they are planning to begin work on the disc sometime in July. Does the album have a title?
The group’s pianist Phil Amalong explains. “We haven’t actually decided on the final title. The working title that’s also being used for the campaign is ‘A Feast For The Ears’, but we have yet to determine what the title of the recording will be.
We’ve looked forward to putting all this together, and recording the music from the composers that we’ve worked with for a number of years. We’ve got some great repertoire that’s been composed for us! We enjoy performing it, and the idea of recording it is really exciting!”.