Updated: Oct 5, 2020
My mum looks forward every year to a week of chamber music on a summer residential course where she gets to play many works from the repertoire with other people from all over the country. She’ll hate me saying it, but she does have a bit of a panic every spring as she finds out what music she’ll be playing with these groups and tries to practice them on her own.
Play along with all or just some of the Artisian Quartet!
An amateur viola player for 50 years, she knows what she’s doing but still finds it very intimidating to get there on the first day, however much she’s practised her part, as she doesn’t know if she’ll be able to keep up, whether she’ll come crashing in in the wrong place or if she’ll lose her nerve when it comes to a difficult section. So imagine her delight when she heard about PartPlay - brain child of Steve Bingham, Leader of the Bingham Quartet and Phil Aird, pro violinist and general manager of the European String Teachers Association. PartPlay is a new site with a catalogue of over 100 mainstream chamber works from Pachelbel’s Canon right through to Bartok’s notoriously difficult string quartets and it gives you the option to mute one or more parts as you play along to it.
‘I loved playing along to Music Minus One when I was a kid’ explains Phil. ‘It was the perfect way to practice a concerto in those days- the orchestral accompaniment to a concerto without Heifitz drowning you out - it gave you a real sense of how it feels to play with an orchestra’. When he was coaching on a chamber music course for kids , Young Grittleton, a couple of years ago with Steve Bingham, they discovered a mutual interest in creating a similar experience in the chamber music repertoire for their young students. ‘It can be terrifying for people to turn up to a music course, however much they’ve practised their individual part, if they don’t know how it fits in with everyone else’s’ says Steve. ‘PartPlay gives them the option to solo their own part to hear how it should sound, listen to advice from the professionals on how best to approach it, tips for fingerings, bowing and ensemble and then to play back the whole quartet removing their own part so that they are playing in their own ‘virtual chamber concert’ from the privacy of their home.’
Huge initial interest is not just from amateur musicians though. Music students at college love the idea of being able to learn the chamber repertoire comprehensively before they end up in professional situations in the future. Professional musicians also want to use it to give themselves musical variety in their lives especially if they are playing one particular genre of music, e.g opera, all the time. They can feel the love of chamber music all over again without having to coerce other musicians into practising with them...
We think this is a no-brainer. With a monthly subscription of only £5.99 and a catalogue of over 100 works in production (including larger works such as the Mendelssohn Octet), come and help expand PartPlays repertoire list by joining their Kickstarter campaign. In addition to 3, 6, 12 month and a lifetime membership of PartPlay, their rewards include 100 sets of violin strings and 50 sets of Jargar cello strings, signed scores, 250 blocks of hill rosin, a Coda Bow , Pedi Violin case and much more. You can even have a day in the studio yourself. The seriously impressive list of professional musicians who have recorded for them include the Maggini, Bingham, Coull, Artisian and Castalian Quartets and they want to expand this virtual chamber world to include more pro musicians and more works.
Join us to help spread the word and while you’re at it, drop them an email to let them know what chamber pieces you’d like them to record next!
Find out more at www.partplay.co.uk