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Chamber Ensemble Brings Unique Style to BC

With great grace and skill, the European chamber ensemble Czech Nonet swept the Berea College audience into the worlds of Martinu, Mozart and Brahms on Feb. 16.

The Czech Nonet.

As part of their 3-week North American tour, Czech Nonet performed their concert Wingspread Music: Strings, Woodwinds and Horn at Berea College. The nine-person chamber ensemble treated Berea students to their unique interpretation of three classical compositions. They did not speak with the audience, letting their music evoke deeper reactions in the listener.

The Czech Nonet is one of the longest continuously-performing chamber ensembles in the world. It was founded in 1924 by students of the Prague Conservatory, and despite the interference of wars, communist occupation and transitions in government, has consistently performed and toured for over 80 years. Made up of an unconventional assemblage of violin, viola, violoncello, contra bass and a wind quintet, Czech Nonet has gained incredible critical acclaim and inspired many original compositions over the course of its long existence.

The works performed at the convo were Mozart's Concertante pour Violon Principale, KV452; Bohuslav Martinu's Nonet No. 2, H374 and Johannes Brahms' Serenade in D Major, Op. 11. Martinu's piece was composed specifically for the Czech Nonet in 1959, and he died only a month after the group first performed his composition.

Before 2002, the ensemble had not performed in the United States in almost 25 years. Their performance at Berea College was part of their most recent American tour, following various appearances including National Public Radio and the Library of Congress's Coolidge Auditorium.

The convocation was a Stephenson Memorial Concert. More information about the Czech Nonet, such as the history of the group, their repertoire, discography, and a listing of current and past members can be found at their website.

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