COSMIC HARMONY

String Theory Image.jpg

This article appeared in The GAMAC Wire blog on October 10, 2017. 

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     Concert titles are tricky. The opening concert of GAMAC’s 27th Masterworks series, String Theory, is a prime example.  As a “Strings Only” performance featuring some of the violins, violas, cellos, and basses of our GAMAC Chamber Orchestra, String Theory seemed catchy.  It was all fun and games until retired physics professors started cracking jokes about particle accelerators…
     String Theory in physics is, well,….a theory which suggests that the four forces of gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear force, and weak nuclear force work together under tremendous tension to move particles (protons and neutrons) around into the fabric of space, time, stars, planets, galaxies, and so forth.  A “particle accelerator” is a large machine which can be used here on Earth to create a sort of vacuum where particles can be accelerated to very high energies and tension which physicists can then study to understand the universe.  Such machines are very expensive and are neither cost effective nor necessary for GAMAC at this time.
     String Theory as a GAMAC concert has some similarities.  Imagine a violin.  Its four strings (pawns themselves in the game of gravity) are under tremendous tension which results in musical notes when the player exerts energy with a bow and finger pressure.  The tension of the strings is so strong, in fact, that it actually holds the bridge and sound post of the instrument in place.  Like the particles creating the universe, the musical notes work together in a variety of combinations to create symphonies, serenades, concertos, divertimentos, and so forth.  Consider all the mathematical patterns and intervals which underlie musical scales and our concert title is truly in harmony with the arts and sciences. 
     At the risk of belaboring the metaphor, one could easily argue that conductors are the particle accelerators of the music world.  Despite getting musicians fired up the way they do, however, they aren’t always necessary.  In fact, they weren’t really considered an integral part of orchestras until the 19thcentury when ensembles tended to grow in size.  For String Theory, the GAMAC Chamber Strings will actually play without a conductor. (Don’t panic!  Don Campbell, Andy Pettus, Alan Nowell, and Bob Heritage are still with us and you’ll see them later this season.  We’ve even got Dr. Howard Kim joining us as a guest conductor in March! We’re just trying something different!)  GAMAC’s String Theory, by design, will be an intimate chamber music performance with a smaller ensemble which won’t require a conductor, but rather a special level of communication and virtuosity among the musicians to keep it all together. Chamber music is akin to a conversation among friends. Each member takes a lead at some point and yields to others. Whereas conductors typically decide what an ensemble will play, music choices are frequently made by chamber ensemble members collectively.  String Theory has been curated by our long-time concertmaster, Heather Strachan, with help from assistant concertmaster Kathy Perry and our Conductor Emeritus, Alex Spainhour who returns to the stage as a member of the violin section for the evening.  In putting this program together, they’ve chosen some of their personal favorites and are looking forward to talking about the music with the audience during the performance. The program will span 5 centuries of Western classical music beginning with Georg Philip Telemann’s Sinfonia Spirituoso and the first movement of Mozart’s Divertimento in D Major through snippets of Tchaikovsky’s beloved Serenade for Strings, Leos Janacek’s Idyll Suite for Strings and Gershwin’s Lullaby for Strings among others before concluding with Eric Whitacre’s Water Night.   Zooming through Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th Century styles, at the speed of light, the GAMAC Chamber Strings promise a joyous, entertaining journey through the space-time continuum of classical music on a string.
     String Theory is coming up this Friday, October 13, 2017 at 7:30pm in the sanctuary of St. John’s United Methodist Church located at 515 S. McDuffie Street in downtown Anderson.  Tickets are priced at just $20 for adults and $10 for kids and full-time college students.  Advance tickets may be purchased by calling the GAMAC office at (864) 231-6147 or visiting us online.  Tickets will also be available at the door beginning at 6:30pm Friday evening.  Experience in quantum physics not required.

by Dana Gencarelli
Executive Director for GAMAC