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Untitled, by Anna Leader ‘18 Written after the Arcanto String Quartet played Bach, Schumann and Smetana on November 12, 2015 i’m not even a musician, my friend points out, and besides, he can’t see what the fuss is about. why would i willingly spend my evening this way— why not see friends, or do work, or snooze? i have to admit that i never really play classical music when i get to choose— séance. but i don’t usually attend séances, either, and that’s what this is: not creation, but rather a summoning, a conjuring, a transmission of something from another realm into our own. it’s always there, but only lives through the renditions that turn transcendent thought to tune and tone. bach’s brother said that bach (the program quotes) “died over this fugue” and wrote his name in notes. not many of us will get the chance to sign our deathbeds with something beautiful and good or with so much detail and design. more likely: human waste like bile or blood. i would happily die on the cello’s deepest pitch. the cellist unearths the note: he digs a ditch to hit a golden seam, a rich thick vein which the viola stoops to gather with delight. the sound dies; the cache is buried again by the summoners of ghosts into the light.

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dance. i don’t usually like music without words; my kind of pop makes use of major thirds and clichéd verse that crests into hysterics. but i’m surprised to see that unlike pop this music uses body language. lyrics are replaced with wooden props. i lean forward, fascinated. the bows sweep across the strings like ice skates and then leap their silver rink and fly into the air— endless jump—before landing two by two in perfect synchrony. the medium here is the thick silence they cut through and which i do not notice til the music stops. i change my mind: the instruments aren’t props, they’re bodies. ‘ecstasy’ is being outside oneself, and these musicians speak through new voiceboxes, souls tucked inside the wooden frames they press against their cheeks.

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Untitled, by Anna Leader '18  

This piece was inspired by the Arcanto String Quartet's concert on the Princeton University Concerts series on November 12, 2015. It won Fi...

Untitled, by Anna Leader '18  

This piece was inspired by the Arcanto String Quartet's concert on the Princeton University Concerts series on November 12, 2015. It won Fi...

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