The Skeist Chamber Concert is quite literally a celebration of classical musical life on campus. This annual event is sponsored by the Irving, Class of 1935, Dorothy, and Helen Skeist Endowed Fund, a trust established specifically designed to “enhance musical opportunities and provide scholarships for WPI juniors and seniors who play violin or viola.”
Irving Skeist was a brilliant chemist, successful businessman, and talented violist who played in the Worcester Symphony. The endowment was established by his daughter, Helen, an amateur violist who was quoted in the WPI Journal: “Being a musician helps bring out a certain amount of passion and creativity. My dad was very much an innovator in his field. I think that being a musician, probably at some sort of subtle level, helped him.”
Who: Medwin Honors Quartet and Friends
What: Skeist Chamber Concert
When: Sunday, April 26, at noon
Where: Higgins House
Free and open to the public, with reception to follow
According to Professor Douglas Weeks, administrator of music at WPI, the endowment was also created by the family to “among other things, underwrite expenses relating to enhancing the musical experience for student violinists and violists.” He also notes that in order for students to qualify for financial aid, they need such criteria as “passion, enthusiasm, commitment, and love of music.” And, “funding for concerts, materials, music not necessarily available to students is there to augment their musical activities.”
Last year’s recipient of financial aid from the Skeist endowment was Alexander Dich ’14. This year’s winner is Joshua Nottage, a senior from Cranston, R.I., majoring in actuarial mathematics. He is also a violinist in the WPI Orchestra. “Joshua has been a hard working, conscientious talented violinist his entire time at WPI,” says Weeks. Nottage will be featured throughout the concert on violin.
This year’s Skeist Chamber Concert will feature, in addition to the orchestra, the Medwin Honors Quartet with violinists Emily Viloudaki ’16 and Andrew Lewis ’18, violist Shawn Wile ’17, and cellist Eric Cheng ’17. Their coach is Lynne Canavan; other musical friends include Skeist scholarship winner Nottage, clarinetist Brett Ammeson ’16, oboist Jeff Porzio (grad), violinist Alex Dich ’14, cellist Laura Merrill ’15 , violist Ashley Rosano ’15, and double bassist Alex Kopchik ’15.
Viloudaki, who has been playing violin for 11 years, will play first violin on the clarinet quintet and second violin on the Dvorak piece. She credits Weeks and Canavan with working particularly hard to make WPI’s music program exceptional.
“I hope audiences will take away a deepened appreciation for music,” she says. “All of us performing on Sunday really love what we do. It can be tough to balance a heavy technological/engineering course load in addition to the arts, but music is an integral part of all of our lives.
“Throughout the year, we, as a quartet, have performed a wide range of repertoire at many venues including Mechanic’s Hall, Worcester Art Museum and for other events at Higgins House and on campus. We love interacting with people walking by as they pause to listen to our playing for a moment or if they linger long enough to chat at the end.”
- Allegro from Clarinet Quintet, Op. 34, by Carl Maria von Weber
- Duet for Violin and Cello in Eb, by Ludwig van Beethoven
- Allegro piacevole from Serenade for Strings, Op. 20, by Edward Elgar
- Oboe Quartet in F (Allegro, Adagio, Rondeau), K. 370, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Allegro ma non troppo from String Quartet No. 12, Op. 96 (The American Quartet), by Antonin Dvorak
The program will include, among other pieces, the Allegro from the Clarinet Quintet, Op. 34 by Carl Maria von Weber featuring Ammeson. “I would consider my role for this concert to be a guest soloist,” Ammeson says. “I’m only playing the first movement, which is largely lighthearted and fun. I suppose the main thing I would want for the audience to take from this is to enjoy hearing it as much as I enjoy playing it.”
Weeks says the remarkable program will also include the Oboe Quartet by Mozart, featuring grad student Jeff Porzio, and the American Quartet by Antonin Dvorak, featuring the Medwin Honors Quartet.