The River Charles Ensemble, Harvard’s premier conductor-less chamber orchestra, is dedicated to the highest quality of music-making and performance. Formed in the spring of 2012, the River Charles Ensemble is a community of musicians who believe in the power and application of chamber music techniques to solo and orchestral performances. Using a democratic and collective approach, the orchestra is dedicated to working with student musicians of all kinds and strongly believes in musical collaborations all across the Harvard community. The musicians of the River Charles Ensemble share a passion for this distinctive and innovative approach to music.
In the busy schedules of university students, it is difficult to find a time and place for musical development at an institution so strongly committed to academia. The River Charles Ensemble believes that the highest level of musical and personal development in the academic musician requires a blend of circumstances that build upon selflessness, generosity, and sincerity. Interdependency within the ensemble is a fundamental feature that requires every member to be active leaders in the music-making process and expectations for the highest quality of performance is driven by a demand for intense creativity and a strong commitment to standard as well as innovative performance traditions. The River Charles Ensemble is committed to providing and evolving the environment and atmosphere that strives to enrich quality musical expression in the lives of Harvard-affiliated students, allowing them to make a strong musical impact on all audiences around the world.
The RCE Core System is adopted, adapted, and inspired from the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra of New York.
The RCE System functions on a belief that, fundamentally, all musicians must take part in the ensemble performance by always contributing in some capacity of leadership. There is no fixed seating process in RCE – all musicians rotate seating, an exercise that promotes leadership development and heightened artistic development for every individual. Rotations occur for every piece, resulting in a different set of musicians leading the ensemble as principals of their respective sections. This set of principal players form the ‘Core.’
The ‘Core’ is crucial to the rehearsal process. RCE rehearses tutti (all musicians) once a week with additional rehearsals at the beginning of each concert cycle by members of the ‘Core.’ Members of the ‘Core’ learn the score for their piece and develop artistic interpretations to bring to the tutti rehearsals. This development of ideas leads to discussions during tutti rehearsals, which run similarly to chamber music rehearsals. All student musicians are encouraged to participate and thus learn about the music they are preparing to perform as well as develop skills to verbalize and communicate their musical ideas.
Seating in RCE is a randomized process. The incredible sensitivity and musicianship of all RCE members is reflected in the masterful understanding and ensemble performance of the prepared repertoire. The expectation that the generous contributions of all the members creates an environment that is enjoyable and productive. And it works.
Just as basketball players are jumping higher and baseball pitchers are throwing faster, without a doubt, the level of expertise amongst modern day musicians is at an incredibly high level and is continuing to grow at an extremely fast rate. The members of RCE cannot be categorized as “he or she who plays perfectly.” Any musician can play as well as the one before or after, but RCE is comprised of players who are interested and are interesting. RCE celebrates engaged musicians who are resourceful and creative in their musical performance and understanding.