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Up Close and Personal

Student plays cello in Parrish Parlors

On Monday afternoons, Parrish Hall’s east parlor acts as an intimate performance space for the music program’s Lunch Hour Concert Series, which showcases student ensembles and faculty groups alike. It is a far cry from the 450-seat concert hall in Lang Music Building, but the informal setting works to its advantage. 

For one, the absence of physical separation translates to more active engagement between musician and spectator; audience members are not passive receivers of the performance, but instead converse through their facial expressions and body language, giving performers immediate feedback in a dialogue without words.

Lunchtime traffic in and out of Parrish Hall, the College’s central hub, also exposes these concerts to a larger audience, one that might not be aware of the more traditional ones or have the desire to attend them regularly. The open space allows curious, would-be concertgoers to pop in and head out as their schedule permits. 

Parrish Parlors is furnished with a restored Steinway piano that was purchased in 2011.

“If you advertise a classical music concert, maybe somebody wouldn’t show up, but if they happen upon a really intense or really moving or really beautiful piece, then their preconceptions of style are less important,” explains lecturer and College orchestra conductor Andrew Hauze ’04.

“I really like it when the audience members are closer because it feels more like I’m interacting with the audience rather than just playing for them,” says pianist Kevin Lai ’18, an honors economics and mathematics major from Dallas, who performed a Grieg cello sonata with cellist Kyle Yee ’19, an honors computer science and physics major from Melrose, Mass. 

“I can see the faces of my friends and faculty that show up, rather than just knowing that there is some blob of people sitting out in the audience,” he says.