To bring together inspiring professional musician/educators with emerging young artists in order to study and perform masterpieces of the chamber music repertoire and explore new works of broad appeal.
To encourage young musicians to increase their commitment to serious music making, while at the same time broadening their interests so that they may relate to a large variety of people.
Lyceum = an association providing inspirational lectures, concerts and entertainments; a tract of ground near ancient Athens, most famous as the place in whose shaded walks Aristotle taught (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary)
Kairos = a Greek word for non-chronological time, those special moments when a child is at play or artists are absorbed in their work, when time seems suspended.
After reviewing application and audition materials we place participating young artists into small chamber music ensembles (string quartets, quintets, etc.) and assign the repertoire that they will study and perform over the course of the Lyceum. Students are informed of their assigned repertoire in advance of the Lyceum allowing them to do much of their individual practicing before the program begins. All of the participants also play in The Lyceum Chamber Orchestra (a small string orchestra), which is featured prominently on our higher profile Festival Concerts. Throughout the course of the ten-day institute a team of experienced artist faculty members guides the student ensembles as the young artists explore the nuances of artistic expression, musical and interpersonal communication, and ensemble playing.
The ten-day schedule includes a variety of musical and non-musical activities including 25 hours of faculty led rehearsal/coaching, 16 hours of unsupervised student led rehearsals, 5-15 hours of individual practice and/or free time, three student concerts, two Festival Concerts (featuring artist faculty as well as the Lyceum Chamber Orchestra) and daily, one to two hour long mini-seminars aimed at putting the creative process in perspective by exploring non-musical arts and disciplines ranging from pottery to karate. Additional planned social activities such as hikes, swimming, bowling, and BBQs, promote informal interaction between students and faculty.
Lessons that extend beyond the domain of music making. In addition to work on purely musical and craft-specific skills, the Lyceum embraces and stresses a philosophy of music making that draws upon themes of broad significance. The interrelated themes of communication, listening, and our motto “people before product,” have a direct relationship to chamber music but are also of value in almost any imaginable discipline and facet of daily life. The activities and curriculum of the Lyceum are designed to specifically and concretely address these topics so that they become more than just platitudes.
Making music requires careful listening; as individual artists we are taught to listen to and analyze every sound we make. In the context of chamber music the challenge is to hear one’s own musical line while simultaneously hearing your individual colleagues as well as the overall blend or “group sound.” This sort of listening is active, requiring a concerted effort and a purposeful directing of attention; it requires interpretation and analysis and is a prerequisite for effective communication.
The art of communication
A string quartet is a microcosm of democracy: no single member is considered to be “the leader” and the group performs and rehearses without a conductor. Consequently, the art of communication––both on and off stage––is central to the ensemble’s success.
Rehearsals can require a great deal of diplomatic skill as the group strives to reach an artistic consensus. Differences of opinion are inevitable and the quality of the group’s music making will depend heavily upon the members’ skill at verbally articulating their musical ideas, and upon everyone’s ability to set aside differences, maintain an open mind, make compromises, and sacrifice individual artistic vision for the good of the whole. However, the goal is not to completely suppress individual expression, but rather to find a way to weave together a cohesive interpretation from four distinct personalities. The most artistically successful groups––like the most successful teams in any workplace––will find ways to utilize and highlight the strengths of their individual members.
Communication extends beyond the rehearsal room and onto the stage. Here communication within the ensemble becomes essential for playing and staying together; simultaneously the group must stay focused on its raison d’etre: communicating the musical ideas of the composer to an audience that may be hearing the piece for the first time. In contrast to the verbal skill required in rehearsals, on-stage communication relies heavily on non-verbal and visual cues. Group members must make frequent visual contact and breath and move together to ensure unity of ensemble; nodding and sniffing can mimic the function of a baton-waving conductor. Posture and gestural theatrics help to convey musical meaning to the audience––in addition to communicating musical semantics and emotion through carefully sculpted sound, performing ensembles must develop a choreography that visually reinforces their sonic message.
People before product
Central to our music making and educational philosophy is the realization that people are the essential ingredient of all artistic endeavor. It is people who are the creators and the viewers of art; a conception of creative activity that does not have people at its center is incomprehensible. The irony is that by placing people first, the byproduct is almost always a superior artistic outcome.
At the Lyceum this translates to placing communication above craft (although we certainly believe that craft is crucially important). We teach that it is more valuable to give a vital, expressive performance that engages and speaks to an audience than a performance that is note perfect. We stress the importance of maintaining positive interpersonal relationships with your colleagues and teach that it is not the ensembles that consist of the most talented players who make the greatest impact; rather, it is the ensembles that are able to work constructively and that enjoy one another enough to sustain long-term relationships and growth that ultimately make the most notable contributions.
The Kairos String Quartet
Comprised of violinists Carrie Rehkopf and Denise Dillenbeck violist Tim Betts, and cellist John Michel, the Kairos String Quartet is recognized as one of the premier chamber ensembles in the Pacific Northwest. The quartet holds an endowed residency at Central Washington University––where all four members also teach––affording the group a degree of stability that is unusual in the chamber music world. The ensemble maintains a busy schedule, regularly touring and performing throughout the region and making occasional national/international appearances. Recent recording projects have focused on works by contemporary American composers. The quartet is well known for its commitment to education and community service, conducting clinics and making dozens of appearances at schools, youth symphonies, community centers, retirement communities, and institutions of higher education each year. “Kairos” is the Greek word for non-chronological time: those special moments experienced by children at play, reunited friends, or artists absorbed in their work. The Quartet hopes to create many such moments.