by Jarrett Hoffman
“Although Myer isn’t an official member,” ClevelandClassical.com wrote last year, “his performance…made it sound as if he were a bona fide Miami.”
Pianist Spencer Myer will continue his long-standing collaboration with the Miami String Quartet on Wednesday, July 11 at 7:30 pm in Ludwig Recital Hall at Kent State — the second faculty concert of this year’s Kent/Blossom Music Festival. The program includes Haydn’s String Quartet in d, Op. 76, No. 2, Pēteris Vasks’ 1995 String Quartet No. 3, and Dvořák’s Op. 5 Quintet for Piano and Strings in A.
Last week I caught up with Myer by phone, and began our conversation by asking about his busy June.
Spencer Myer: I just came back from South Africa — I was there for a month. I won a piano competition there in 2004, and it’s turned into a recurring engagement for me: I go every two to three years for a concert tour. This time around I did nine recitals, and two performances of the Grieg Concerto with the Johannesburg Philharmonic and the Cape Town Philharmonic. It was amazing — I just love going there. I’ve gotten to know a lot of the people, and the audiences are so warm and receptive, and really love classical music. It’s just a beautiful country — the landscape is amazing, and the food and wine are totally out of this world. Now I have a week off at home in New York, and then I go to Kent/Blossom.
Jarrett Hoffman: You’ve played many concerts with the Miami String Quartet at the Festival. What was it like to join them at the beginning of your partnership?
SM: We got along so well right from the beginning — it was immediate chemistry.
Since then, we’ve always tried to schedule our weeks at the Festival so we can play together. I’ve been going there since 2008 or 2009, and I think there’s only been one year where our schedules didn’t line up. We’ve done a lot of different stuff — quintets, quartets, a Mendelssohn trio the first year. It’s been amazing to explore repertoire with them.
JH: Tell me about the group’s rehearsal process.
SM: We don’t pick things apart in an overly detailed way. Of course we do stop and talk, but I think our rehearsals are made up more of just playing and communicating our ideas that way. And we’re usually pretty much on the same page. It’s very, very easy to play with them.
JH: Your first year playing with the Miami at Kent/Blossom, you performed a Dvořák Piano Quintet. Was that Opus 5 or Opus 81?
SM: It was the famous one, Opus 81. This time around we’re doing Opus 5, which I had actually never heard before. It’s of course not nearly as often played, but it’s a fabulous piece. You can hear lots of the composer in it. It’s very quintessentially Dvořák even though it’s so early — I think he had already found his voice. The Quartet brought up the idea of doing it, and I was totally game. I love playing new repertoire.
JH: In addition to chamber music and solo recitals, you perform quite a lot with orchestras.
SM: I always tell people that playing with orchestra is one of my favorite things to do. With a string quartet, there’s a lot of interplay, and it’s very refined, sophisticated chamber music-making — but it’s also like playing with a smaller version of an orchestra. It’s great to combine with that big sound.
JH: You’re originally from Northeast Ohio, no?
SM: Right — and Kent/Blossom is always great for me because I can stay at home with my parents in North Ridgeville. And I love being around the atmosphere of the Festival. I’m really excited to come home again.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com July 3, 2018.
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