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Louisville chamber ensemble premieres new work by a local composer

A small group of instrumentalists are in a large room for rehearsal.
Cecilia Huerta-Lauf
NouLou Chamber Players
The NouLou Chamber Players will premiere a new decet by WUOL's Daniel Gilliam at their April 15 concert.

The NouLou Chamber Players' April show will introduce a new piece to audiences.

The NouLou Chamber Players put a lot into connecting with their audience. They do that by presenting interesting works in an intimate setting.

It's not just about the music that you play, but it's the atmosphere in which you create it,” NouLou director and co-founder Cecilia Huerta-Lauf said.

She said the parlor-style performance the NouLou Chamber Players use helps reduce some of the trepidation people might feel around classical music.

“The idea of classical music, these days to the layman, is that you're going into a big hall, and you're very the musicians are on a stage and you're very far removed, we try to break down that barrier,” she said.

Their April concert, “The Orchestra - Distilled,” features a nonet —nine-instrument piece— by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Huerta-Lauf said the nonet they’re playing hadn’t been very popular up until recently.

“When the pandemic hit, this was a piece that finally started getting some attention and was quite popular as a work that can be performed socially distant, as well. And so our ensemble has wanted to do this for quite some time,” Huerta-Lauf said.

A new work commissioned by the chamber players rounds out their April concert.

WUOL program director Daniel Gilliam composed a dectet that utilizes all 10 instruments at once in addition to small groups to convey various imagery. WUOL is a part of Louisville Public Media.

The opening of the piece is meant to conjure visions of a still lake, calm and peaceful. While the final movement depicts a cloud reflecting across the glassy surface.

That reflection is captured musically as a reversal of the work’s introductory themes. Basically, the reflection is played backwards.

Huerta-Lauf said the number of pieces that allow for woodwinds and piano to play together, like Gilliam’s, are uncommon. It works well for the small musical group.

“We've performed Beethoven's septet many times, we performed the Schubert octet we're about to perform Coleridge-Taylor’s nonet…but it's there's not that much after that and we really wanted an opportunity to play more with each other,” she said.

The commissioned dectet work fulfills two goals of the NouLou Chamber Players. One is being able to play all together and the second is supporting the creation of new works.

The group hopes that this will be one of many dectets they are able to commission.

“Traditional classical music is what brought me into the art form because they're always universal, timeless values that you hear within this repertoire that carry through commissioning new works, is a way to reflect other values and issues that have that resonate with today,” Huerta-Lauf said.

She said adding new works to the classical repertoire is essential for its sustainability.

“If Beethoven didn't have support constantly in his day we wouldn't have his music of today. Huerta-Lauf said. “And it's really important to keep supporting the next Beethoven, so to speak, so that we can have these time capsules also for the future.”

The NouLou Chamber Players’ performance of “The Orchestra - Distilled” is April 15 at Oxmoor Farm.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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