A Far Cry from conventional classical music

Jillian Taratunio

A Far Cry, a local chamber orchestra without a conductor, fuses the creative minds of 17 young, professional musicians to energize classical music. The orchestra’s upcoming three-concert series—The Lunatic, The Lover and The Poet—is a part of the new JP Concerts series that will begin on Halloween, Oct. 31 at 4 p.m. The series’ names come from a line of William Shakespeare: “The lunatic, the lover and the poet are of imagination all compact.”

The mission of the concerts is to bring the community together and to convey that classical music is for everyone, said Sharon Cohen, a Jamaica resident and a member of A Far Cry.

The ensemble formed in 2007, and has since toured the United States. All but three Criers live in Jamaica Plain. Last year, the group opened an office and rehearsal space at 146A South St. called “The Music Box.”

The Lunatic (Oct. 31), The Lover (Jan. 30) and The Poet (April 3) will be performed at St. John’s Episcopal Church at Roanoke and Revere streets. Each program will feature a piece making its world premiere at the performance. Tickets are $10 for adults.

“We only play music we absolutely love and would listen to,” said Cohen.

Criers perform pieces written for string orchestras. They do not restrict themselves to a particular type of classical music. “There is no limit,” said Cohen.

Instead of employing a conductor, A Far Cry relies on the artistic vProxy-Connection: keep-alive
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ions of its members. Each person has different tastes and interests, which explains the diverse sound of the programs, according to Cohen.

“Everyone has the opportunity to contribute their point of view, and everyone brings something different to the table. Each person is as vital as the next,” said Cohen.

Members rotate their positions in the orchestra. The sound and experience of each piece depends on the leader, according to Cohen. The constant communication between the Criers on stage allows them to tune in to each other so they can adapt their music to that of the leader.

“We all have the changeability to adapt to the music being played at the moment. This demands each person to artistically own what he or she is doing,” said Cohen.

Cohen said the communication among the artists and between the artists and the audience are key to the performance. The Criers stand during the concerts to engage the audience and generate energy. “The energy of the performance is not replaceable,” she said.

A reception follows each performance, where the Criers speak to audience members to get to know them.

Cohen said the Criers have given lessons to youth orchestras that visited JP. The Criers have also traveled to universities across the country to work with students in orchestras. “Education is extremely important. We want to connect with young musicians,” said Cohen.

Criers plan to visit local schools to perform with the hope of inspiring students. “We are 17 creative minds dedicated to creating art all of the time,” she said.

Other Criers are: Annie Rabbat, Ashley Vandiver, Courtenay Vandiver, Frank Shaw, Jae Y.C. Lee, Jason Fisher, Jennifer Curtis, Jesse Irons, Karl Doty, Liza Zurlinden, Loewi Lin, Margaret Dyer, Megumi Stohs, Miki-Sophia Cloud, Sarah Darling and Tony Flynt.

A Far Cry released its debut CD in April. For more information, visit www.afarcry.org.

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