Treasured Chamber Music Amici Memories, Part IV: Listening

posted on   by  Loi Heldt

by Bruce Heldt, Donor Relations

I am a music lover, and a mostly self-taught piano player.  Apart from solo piano music, the music I love most is that performed by small groups of musicians.  I love the interaction between the performers that is more likely to occur, and much easier to hear, when the number of musical parts and performers is small.  In the 1960s I favored rock groups, in the 70s I switched to jazz groups, and starting in the 80s I added classical chamber music to favored status.

In the late 1990s, when my children were young, I owned a digital keyboard that could record and playback on eight separate tracks.  It had digital samples of numerous instruments so that I could play the keyboard but sound somewhat like a trumpet, or a flute, or a violin, etc.  After my children’s bedtime, I would turn off the keyboard’s speakers, plug in the headphones, and start recording some music that I would improvise on the spot.  Then, I would change the instrument sample selection and while playing back what I had just recorded I would “accompany” myself playing a different sampled instrument.

Thus was born the Tahsili Consort, named after the street that we lived on at that time.  Tahsili Consort recorded four CD’s worth of music.  Although I make no claims as to the quality of either the music performed or the sounds of the instruments produced, I truly treasured the experience.  It increased my appreciation for the listening that is so important to the performance of both great jazz and great chamber music.  Because all of the music was improvised, I was neither restricted in what I could play nor hindered by having to accurately perform a prescribed musical idea.  That freedom both allowed and required me to concentrate on listening to the recorded track or tracks that were being played back.  Somehow, if I listened closely enough, my fingers would find something appropriate (at least to my ear) to accompany what I was hearing.

When I attend a concert, I usually prefer to sit as close to the musicians as possible.  I’ve been told the sound is better elsewhere in a concert hall than the front row, but I don’t go to a concert to experience the best possible “sound”.  I go to experience the act of musical creation that is going on among the musicians and I can do that best by getting as close as I can.  Best of all, if I can get close enough to the musicians, and pay close enough attention to the music, in my mind I almost become part of the group and more actively engaged in the listening.

Bruce Heldt is joining the Amici staff, in charge of donor relations, when David Meredith retires. Bruce was the managing partner for Isler CPA for over 20 years and was the first board president when Amici was founded. He is returning to assist an organization that he loves.