STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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Amici means “friends” in Italian.
In the middle of a summer that’s been chock full of pops concerts and fireworks throughout the region, Amici Strings, a new Main Line-based ensemble, joins the area music scene. The 23 local musicians perform their first concert at Wayne United Methodist Church, 210 S. Wayne Ave., in the heart of Wayne, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday Aug. 7.
Amici was assembled this year as a no-budget/no-pressure summertime ensemble by Alice Pavri, a violin, viola and piano teacher in Kimberton with contacts in the Main Line Orchestra, the Providence Chamber Orchestra (which she co-founded in 1998) and chamber musicians. “We’re not part of a concert series. The summer, it has a more relaxed feel, and we’re just playing for fun,” she said.
“Alice is an amazing planner. She can come up with a string ensemble in two seconds. We felt this wasn’t any old community orchestra,” said Jennifer Fleeger of Phoenixville, an Ursinus College professor and violinist in the ensemble.
In the free concert program will be “Concerto for Strings in C Minor” by Antonio Vivaldi — the musicians’ fondness for the Italian baroque composer was one of the factors in choosing their name — Edward Elgar’s “Serenade for Strings,” Dag Wiren’s “March” and “The Capriol Suite” by Peter Warlock. “Little Suite for String Orchestra” by Carl Nielsen, whose 150th birth anniversary is this year, will close the evening.
In a press release, the conductor for the Amici Strings program, Stuard Young of Havertown, called the Nielsen piece “the most important Opus 1 I know. The young composer burst upon the Danish music scene with a piece of such richness and strength that once known, the melodies cannot be forgotten.”
Young, who is Assistant Conductor of the Main Line Symphony Orchestra and a retired Radnor Township School District music teacher (and “a walking encyclopedia,” according to Pavri), agreed to conduct the string ensemble because, he said in a statement, “despite my many years as a career director of bands, the sound of massed strings remains my greatest musical love. This fine, dedicated group of musicians is thrilled to make its debut in downtown Wayne with this special concert of music both beautiful and exciting.”
Fleeger said that the selections for the all-important debut performance were chosen by musician vote. She joked that the low register string musicians — like her husband, a bass in Amici Strings — strongly influenced the choices because of how “interesting” their parts are in the pieces.
According to a press release for the concert, Leigh Schoepflin, one of two Phoenixville Area School District teachers in Amici, praised how challenging the repertoire is, noting that the music features variety in the viola parts which, she said, is often absent in larger orchestral works.
The concert will be followed by a “friendly” reception and donations are appreciated.