Chamber Music Challenges: CMA’s Mimi Hwang

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    Chamber Music Challenges: CMA’s Mimi Hwang

    Advocating for chamber music: Mimi Hwang

    In March, Chamber Music America (CMA), the national network for ensemble music professionals, announced the appointment of Eastman Assistant Professor Mimi Hwang as the new Chair of its Board of Directors. A member of the Executive Committee and Vice President since 2018, Mimi also served on the CMA Board from 1990 to 1997.

    As a cellist, Mimi performs frequently as a recitalist, but that is only part of her involvement in the world of chamber music.  Mimi is an Assistant Professor of Chamber Music at Eastman, Co-Artistic Director of Yellow Barn’s Young Artists Program, and a founding member of the Franciscan and Amenda Quartets.

    In addition, she is Artistic Director of “If Music Be the Food…” in Rochester, a chamber music concert series involving Eastman faculty members and students that raises donations to the local chapter of Foodlink. 

    We asked Mimi Hwang  about her new role as CMA Board chair, about the challenges chamber music has recently faced, and about Eastman’s traditional end-of-semester “Chamber Music Extravaganza,” on May 3 through May 6. 

     

    You have a long association with the CMA board/administration. Can you describe some of your duties as a former board member and on committees?

    I was a Board member of CMA from 1990-1997, then again from 2014 to the present. In the 90’s, we were discussing whether or not to include jazz. Now CMA’s membership includes members from a wide range of musical styles and traditions. I’m also proud of the work in diversity, equity and inclusion that CMA started 10 years ago to diversify the Board.

    In the release about your CMA appointment, you are quoted: “The field needs CMA more than ever…” What do you mean by that?

    The pandemic has been hard for everyone. But chamber musicians and freelancers have been hit especially hard. While many orchestras have received PPP loans and are able to continue to pay musicians, chamber music series shut down and were not able to honor contracts. And when will audience members feel comfortable returning to the concert hall?

    Many freelance musicians fell between the cracks and didn’t qualify for any government loans programs. CMA, the only national service organization for chamber music, is continuing to award grants, including a new Digital Residency Program which aims to help musicians and presenters stay connected to their audiences and followers. It has also instituted Pay-What-You-Can memberships, recognizing the effects of the pandemic on a member’s ability to earn during these tough times.

    This spring included a virtual version of Eastman’s annual Clark Chamber Music residency. The Sequoia Reed Quintet is shown during a class in Hatch Hall. Photograph by Anne Harrow.

    How did it affect chamber music study at Eastman?

    Coaching chamber music online has also been a challenge. While Zoom has been great for meetings and gatherings, technology doesn’t yet allow people to play together, from distances. I’m coaching a quartet of grad students now. Two of them are in China, one is in New Zealand and one is in Rochester. They can’t play together. Those of us coaching online are doing a combination of score study, analysis, listening projects and lectures, which is important, but it’s not playing together. Which is really what all musicians want to go back to doing, as soon as possible.

    Chamber music study is of course integral to study at Eastman, and the traditional Chamber Music Extravaganza will end the semester with many concerts from May 3 -6. Can you describe the offerings this year and what you find exciting about them?

    The Extravaganza is the culmination of work for the entire semester. There will be a lot of everything and something for everyone: strings, strings and piano, woodwinds, brass, Duo Piano and Graduate Seminar. The Honors concert includes groups that auditioned and were selected for this special concert. The energy is wonderful, and the groups feed off of each other’s excitement.

    Does having the Extravaganza concerts available through Livestreaming enhance the experience for a wider audience? Can more of the students’ friends and families see and hear them this way?

    This year, I’ve heard students say that their families have gotten to hear them more than they have in years, because of the livestream. While our greatest hope is for audiences to return to pre-pandemic levels, I think the livestream is here to stay

    The concerts in Eastman’s Chamber Music Extravaganza are as follows (click concert title for information):

    Monday, May 3, 2021

    11:00 AM

    Chamber Music Extravaganza – Grad Seminar

    Hatch Recital Hall

    2:00 PM

    Chamber Music Extravaganza – Grad Seminar

    Hatch Recital Hall

    5:00 PM

    Chamber Music Extravaganza – Mixed Winds/Brass/Piano

    Hatch Recital Hall

    8:00 PM

    Chamber Music Extravaganza – Woodwind Chamber Music

    Hatch Recital Hall

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021

    11:00 AM

    Chamber Music Extravaganza – Beethoven Class 1

    Hatch Recital Hall

    12:30 PM

    Chamber Music Extravaganza – Beethoven Class 2

    Hatch Recital Hall

    2:00 PM

    Chamber Music Extravaganza – Beethoven Class 3

    Hatch Recital Hall

    Thursday, May 6, 2021

    11:00 AM

    Chamber Music Extravaganza – String Quartet Seminar

    Hatch Recital Hall

    2:00 PM

    Chamber Music Extravaganza – Brass Groups

    Hatch Recital Hall

    5:00 PM

    Chamber Music Extravaganza – Wind Quintets

    Hatch Recital Hall

    8:00 PM

    Chamber Music Extravaganza – Honors Recital

    Hatch Recital Hall

    Published at Wed, 28 Apr 2021 17:30:49 +0000

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