The Chartreuse String Trio will perform a composition written by Associate Professor of Music Daniel Tacke at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night in Conrad Recital Hall.
The Hillsdale College Professional Artist Series is bringing in violinist Myra Hinrichs, violist Carrie Frey, and cellist Helen Newby to perform unorthodox pieces, including one written by Tacke.
“It takes the standard string instruments of viola, violin, and cello, and removes them from their long history of established practice and treats them in a more experimental fashion,” Tacke said. “There’s an immense, expressive sound world that grows out of this. But in a sense it is very difficult. The sounds are very unstable. It’s fascinating but intentionally problematic.”
More radical modern composers have created such unstable sounds by running the bow across the wood body of a string instrument instead of its strings.
“I’m not interested in something that extreme, but I am interested in some of the gray spaces between that and more normal sound,” Tacke said. “[In my piece] you still draw the bow across the string, but instead of using the hair of the bow, you flip it over and use the wooden part. You still get a violin-like sound, but one with some grit in it, a kind of wooden quality.”
They will also perform other modern pieces and three fantasias written in the 1600s.
“There is this tremendous variety on the program, but the unifying theme in the pieces is that they approach the instruments in an unusual or experimental way,” Tacke said. “This is also a bit off the beaten path because all the composers are still alive. Well, except for Henry, but we let him in even though he’s dead.”
This is not the first unusual group that the music department has hosted. Recently, Hillsdale brought a female a cappella quintet from Zimbabwe, and, in the past, a string quartet that collaborated with a Native American flute player, said Professor of Music James Holleman.
Tacke has worked with individual artists from the group before, but this is the first time he has written for the group as a whole.
“It becomes much more complicated and interesting because you are not only dealing with the details of each instrument, but also the ways in which they relate to one another acoustically and politically,” Tacke said. “There is much more opportunity for a critical stance on the norm.”
Tacke said he is used to performing on stage, and that watching them perform his piece from the audience will be a newer experience.
“When it comes time for the performance, I can do nothing but sit in the audience,” Tacke said. “They’ll do a great job, I know they will, they have got my full confidence, but there are always the inescapable butterflies. Except you can’t do anything about the butterflies because you are in the audience.”
The recital can seat up to 80 people per performance, and Holleman encourages people to reserve tickets in advance.
“I think the students will get a new appreciation for their professor when they hear his piece performed by a professional group,” Holleman said. “They are going to have their minds jolted open to the nontraditional ways this group is approaching music, and championing modern composers.”