Credo Chamber Music gears up
for expanded twelfth season in Oberlin
By Daniel Hathaway
On July 1, one hundred and twenty young string players — enough to make up thirty string quartets — arrived on the Oberlin College campus for the latest edition of Credo, a fourteen-year-old, three-week summer chamber music camp that uniquely combines rehearsals, coachings and community service projects into a wholistic experience. This year, string players will be joined during the final week by wind and brass students from such institutions as Oberlin, Eastman, Northwestern, Indiana University and the University of Michigan in order to form a full orchestra for Credo's final concert on July 21 at 7 pm in Severance Hall.
“We always ended with a big string ensemble”, founder and director Peter Slowik told us by telephone from his office in Oberlin, “but I ran across several terrific wind and brass teachers who said they would love to participate and bring along some of their students. We hope this will be the precursor to a model for a larger community and allow us to extend the concept of personal development and helping others into the orchestral medium”.
That final concert will begin with chamber music on the first half — Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, Saint-Saëns's Septet and J. S. Bach's Fourth Brandenburg Concerto — all played without a conductor, thus underlining Credo's belief in the core value of interpersonal communication that characterizes the best chamber music playing, what Slowik calls “an allegory for all music making”. On the second half, however, Slowik will become the “traffic cop” for the full orchestra's performance of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5, a piece he chose in order to “give the winds a chance to shine”.
Credo's other concert activities in Oberlin this summer include evening faculty concerts on July 6 and 13, outdoor student performances in the East College Courtyard at noon on July 5, 12 and 18, and evening student concerts on July 7 and 20 — the latter a marathon performance by multiple quartets and ensembles.
The Jasper String Quartet, born at Oberlin and just wrapping up a two-year residency at the Conservatory, will join Slowik, who is a violist, for the first faculty concert. “They're the first professional quartet to come to Credo”, he notes. And the three outdoor concerts promise to be special events in their own right. “The East College Courtyard is behind the Slow Train Café. It's a public park closed in by three buildings with restaurants and residents' balconies opening onto the space. It's a great, informal way to take music out into the community, and the public will be able to pay much more attention than New Yorkers did to Josh Bell in the subway!”
One of Credo's community service projects has fallen through — a strike by blood drivers has interrupted plans to have chamber groups play for blood drives, something that relaxes donors and educates the students — but a number of others are in place for the summer. Among them, Credo will join up with the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland for visits to inner city youth clubs, and provide volunteer hours to Family Promise of Lorain County, a homeless network.
Peter Slowik and his team log long days during the three weeks that Credo is in session and try to be flexible when the situation dictates. “We start about six in the morning to plan the day, then we teach from 9 to 9 pm and recap for the next day. It's difficult and unique, but rewarding. We do a lot of advance planning, but music education is an elastic and unpredictable venture. We make definite plans for three weeks, but do our best to change things if needed”.
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Published on ClevelandClassical.com July 3, 2012
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