We’re so delighted to be hard at work at our 2010-2011 series “The Weaver’s Tales” with the support of High Concept Laboratories. Fifth House Ensemble is dedicated to pairing multi-media narrative with chamber music new and old, and this year’s project pairs our repertoire with twisted fairy tales told through physical theatre.
Our most recent production completed a few weeks ago with performances at both the Chicago Cultural Center, and the Mayne Stage in Rogers Park. The experience is best summed up in a recent article by our amazing cellist, Herine Coetzee Koschak. I’ll let her take over from here.
– Adam Marks, pianist and Director of Artistic Programming
In the aftermath of such an undertaking, it’s amazing to take stock of the experience of the show. Gone are the days when the preparation for our series concerts was a little like a dinner party, involving the ten of us cooking up a meal for some of our good friends who decided (mercifully!) to grace us with their presence. The collaboration with six actors, two directors, a stage manager, original videographers, a composer/arranger, costumer, a designer, and the slough of backup support at each venue, turns the kitchen into a veritable high-end restaurant with similar challenges of logistics and timing. Our audiences, now commensurate to the scale of the productions, still feel like our best friends, even though we no longer know the vast majority of them! One of the most exciting things post-concert is to meet the people we’ve just played for, because their energy takes the performance experience to a new level for us.
Such was the case both at the Cultural Center and at the Mayne Stage last week, with each venue lending its own special vibe to the performance. One of our decisions for this concert was to dress to the nines in gowns and tuxes, in keeping with the Cinderella theme. For those of you who see us regularly, this is quite a wardrobe anomaly for us, since we tend to favor a “power casual” look (credit for that term goes to @AliciaKan!). In the middle of our performance in Preston Bradley Hall at the Cultural Center, while sitting below that gorgeous Tiffany’s Dome and surrounded by the sparkling mosaic tiles everywhere, there was something about playing the Beethoven Septet, all dolled up while Cinderella and the Prince courted in front of us, that absolutely transported me. I’ve never in my life come so close to feeling like I was actually in the middle of a fairy tale, as a musician in the court band! To me, that’s a career musical highlight if ever there was one, right up there with debuting a concerto with an orchestra or a lesson with Yo-Yo Ma.
The weeks leading up to these performances were riddled with little things that didn’t go quite as planned; a historic blizzard and a flu epidemic that leveled most of us at some point, to name just a few. “Grace under pressure” became the order of the day. For some of us, that quality is inherent while for others it is acquired (I count myself in the latter category); in any case, while the rehearsal process could have been fraught with tension, it was absolutely delightful, often hilarious, and embodied the spirit of why we became an ensemble in the first place. There is nothing greater than collaborating with people you adore and admire, and I consider myself to be truly blessed to be in the company of Fifth House musicians and the brave, exuberant souls who join us for the ride!
– Herine Coetzee Koschak, cellist