Why I Play Chamber Music: Sally Walker

Why I Play Chamber Music: Sally Walker

The greatest joy for me in any form of music making is the sense of union. Union with the music itself, with the musicians I am playing with, with the audience I am playing to and with the space I am playing in.  

With the small number of players in chamber music, a tightly-woven unit is more easily obtained than with a larger number, where the individual impulses can necessitate a conductor to make executive decisions.  Although great conductors allow players a lot of freedom, there is one focal person players look at.  In chamber music, the role of leader is shared, swapped, relinquished…the give and take afforded by a small group allows spontaneous possibilities of when to be gentle, when to remain firm, when to shine and when to merge into texture. Not being fully directed and having the trust of the other players creates space for something magical to appear in the moment; a smallest nuance can immediately ripple through a responsive group.

I love both the rehearsal process and the performance in chamber music.  By its very nature, every player is equal, has input and the fusion of the musical personalities can bring a great sense of team.  There is time in rehearsals to find solutions to problems as a group, to try out everyone's ideas and to iron out technical minutia.  The performance is the combination of two, three, or in the case of our forthcoming concert, five people's expertise and musical journey.  The concert is the distilled version of this collective experience.   

The smaller room chamber music is often played in, brings the performers and audience close together.  This proximity connects in an immediate way, where the audience feels very involved and the performers have a visceral sense of this. Some of the repertoire is the most transformative in the musical canon.

David Rowden, Omega Ensemble's Co-Artistic Director, has shown the ultimate act of creation in forming this group.  He has brought together such fascinating musicians, each of whom brings their own musical ideas and approaches to make the synthesis very rich indeed.