Musical collaboration demands skill on an instrument and also the ability to listen to and communicate with bandmates constructively. Led by Director of Instrumental Music Brian Coughlin and previously known simply as “Instrumental Ensemble,” this year’s version of the class is now called “The Groove,” and it has truly hit the ground running. Returning to anchor the low end with the string bass, Theo Wilton ’23 is joined by newcomers Lucas Johnson ’24 on cello, and Lily ’22 and Zach Herman ’24 on violins.
With four veteran members of The Groove remote learning from China and wind players dispersed to meet social distancing standards, Millbrook’s instrumental ensemble has been streamlined to take the form of a string quartet. Previous incarnations have included brass, woodwinds, and a rhythm section. The smaller group bonded very quickly and have worked together to select and perform a challenging and meaningful repertoire.
The quartet has made a conscious effort to highlight work by Black artists and others previously excluded from the canon for reasons of discrimination. In researching Black classical composers, Theo Wilton discovered Joseph Boulogne, also known as Chevalier Saint-Georges. A Black composer and contemporary of Mozart and Haydn, he is widely considered to be among the greatest musicians of his era. Chevalier’s work isn’t nearly as well known as that of his white peers and the quartet is excited to be presenting work by a historically under-appreciated genius. The group will next tackle music from more contemporary sources like Earth, Wind, and Fire and Deep Purple.
Beyond shepherding the musicians through a complex piece of music, Mr. Coughlin has been pleased with the quartet’s progress in becoming a cohesive group. This incarnation of The Groove has shown remarkable independence and an artistic vision that springs from a deep love of music and the joy of playing music with others.