Five faculty members of the Glenn Korff School of Music recently formed a new resident faculty string quintet to share their love of chamber music with the community.
The group, Una Corda Ensemble, translated as “One String” and/or “One Voice,” features David Neely, Clark Potter, Karen Becker, Hans Sturm and Mark Clinton.
Members of the quintet have performed on five continents, including performances for the American String Teacher’s Association, the College Music Society, the International Society of Bassists and the American Viola Society. The members of Una Corda have recorded for Albany Records, Centaur, Élan, Musical Arts and EMI. All of them have also performed together in some capacity.
“The bottom line is that we all love playing chamber music,” Potter said. “I can’t remember who had the idea first, but as we went around the table, we all said, ‘Heck, yeah!’ We will definitely enjoy doing this together – these are my friends as much as my wonderful co-workers. The beautiful thing about an ensemble like this is that not only is there a terrific piano quintet repertoire that would use all five of us, but we can split up and perform music for a whole host of other combinations: Piano quartets, piano trios, string trios, duos for each combination. The rep goes on and on.”
The group hopes to perform a wide range of works, while also bringing in special guests in addition to university faculty.
“We are currently discussing possible pieces to perform,” Sturm said. “We will begin rehearsing once we develop a menu of potential works and when it is safe to do so, respecting current best practices for social distancing. We have our first performance scheduled for April 2021.”
Small classical string chamber ensembles are usually either string quartets or string trios (violin, cello, piano). There are quite a number of pieces that incorporate the double bass (Paul Nemeth’s website lists over 3000 chamber works with bass). Quite a few of these are patterned after the famous Schubert ’Trout’ Quintet instrumentation (violin, viola, cello, bass and piano), which also happens to be the instrumentation of Una Corda.
“As far as the name, Una Corda, we like the element of unity that the name brings,” Potter said. “Of course, we’ll have more than “one string” represented on stage. Even the piano is a stringed instrument! We are looking forward to getting started.”