All-female ensemble performs Sunday

By Amy Maginnis-Honey
The Daily Republic
Friday, January 3, 2014

The all-female Divisa Ensemble is one of two groups performing at Sunday's "Chamber Music Gems," hosted by the Vallejo Symphony. The five-piece unit features a flute,oboe, violin, viola and cello. Their name is taken from the musical term divisi,which indicates the musicians are divided into two or more separate sections. Vallejo concertgoers will see that Sunday as the group will perform, as a duo, trio, quartet and quintet.

Their first piece will feature the viola and cello performing Rebecca Clarke's "Lullaby," described as "melodious and dreamy" by viola player Stephanie Ng. The second is Clarke's "Grotesque," which Ng calls "cheeky and fun."

The flute, oboe and cello will perform on "Dream Dances," a collection of serious and funny songs. It was penned by Peter Schickele, also known as PDQ Bach. Schickele jokingly refers to himself as Bach's 21st of 20 children. The quartet will be featured on "The Flute Quartet in D Major." "It's probably the most familiar piece on our program," Ng wrote in an email to the Daily Republic.

"Though the myth is that Mozart did not like writing for the flute, he showed great genius in this composition, highlighting the instrument as well as showcasing the strings that also play." The piece features the flute, violin, viola and cello.

All five women will perform "The Petite Suite Champetre" by Dutch composer Jan Koetsier.

"One can hear elements of dawn, pipes, rustling winds and bells in the quintet," Ng wrote.

Ng has always loved music and likes to play it even more, she said. Like many youth, her introduction came via the piano. She then tackled violin, playing in the Young Person's Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Vallejo Symphony conductor David Ramadanoff.

"I started viola because I wanted to play chamber music in a program that did not need anymore violins," Ng wrote. "To participate, I had to play another instrument. But it was a happy circumstance because the viola suits me a little better as it is an inside voice; less flashy, but still essential.

"Plus, it's interesting hearing music sort of from the inside out. I also love the deeper sound and timbre of the viola; sometimes it reminds me of something luscious, like chocolate. (But maybe more like creamy milk chocolate, since the viola is not as deep as a cello.)"

Ng said all ensemble members are friends in addition to being fellow musicians. Chamber music is a democracy, she wrote. "When it comes to musical decisions, like what pieces we play, tempi we take, or even colors we decide to wear, everyone has a say."

Responsibilities are shared. Each member brings their individual strengths. "We are all good musicians so that's a great place to start from," Ng wrote.

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