Friday, September 30th. The Somerville Armory. Palaver Strings. Playing: Antonín Dvorák's Nocturne in B Major; Mark O'Conner's Appalachia Waltz; John Luther Adams' The Wind in High Places; Richard Strauss' Metamorphosen
prolonged and idle discussion.
"an hour of aimless palaver"
Despite their name, which could mislead one to think that what they do is easy-going and conversational, Palaver Strings delivers professional, top notch ensemble work. Sure, you can close your eyes and pretend you're in a dream, idle on a liquid, hallucinogen highway, as the subtle strokes of bow and strings caress your unconscious desire to melt all of reality into a soothing phantasia...but the reality is that the level of musicianship they've attained can only be gotten through talent, and countless hours of focused work.
Before they started their program, A WONDERFUL WORLD, Palaver Strings presented several groups of children-filled ensembles -- part of their community outreach work. Each child ensemble had a PS member holding the group together as they played various classical pieces from Handel, Chuck Elledge, and Jay Ungar. The juxtaposition between what the children delivered and what Palaver played elucidated just how difficult it is to become an excellent ensemble musician. What I noticed was that one of the reasons the kids' playing sounded "kiddish" is because each young person was 100 percent invested in the notes and lines he or she happened to be playing. When Palaver Strings came on, it was obvious that each member of the ensemble was actively immersed in what each other was doing, contributing what she or he had to say in a manner that enhanced the aggregate life of the piece.
The program included projected images of Boston's natural life: plants, birds, trees, greenery. The idea was to bring us closer to the natural beauty existing within and around us, to highlight awareness about the influence we have on our natural world and its resources. This theme was musically enhanced by pieces like Mark O'Conner's Appalachia Waltz and John Luther Adams' The Wind in High Places.
On the string orchestra's website, they state:
"Our name, "Palaver," comes from the term "palaver hut," a place of discussion and conflict resolution in Liberia. In our early days as an ensemble, we gave benefit concerts for the Liberian Education Fund and became familiar with and inspired by the term "palaver" as we are a diverse group of individuals seeking to come to a creative agreement when we make music. "Palaver" has remained central to our vision as we expand our outlook to other social causes."