The RSC ChamberMusicLab


Honors ChamberMusicLab
Intensive Full-Scholarship Saturday Morning Program for Advanced Pre-College Students (Grades 9‑12)

RSC ChamberMusicLab
Tuition-Based Saturday Morning Program for Serious Young Musicians (Grades 6‑12)
Final Online Application Deadline for 2021-2022:
September 5, 2021 (Acceptd)
Final Round Live Auditions September 11, 12-5PM

“While I have had experience with playing chamber music in the past, my experience at ChamberMusicLab was completely different (in a good way!). It was incredibly eye opening to have access to so many different aspects of chamber music rather than just coachings. I especially appreciate how supportive the faculty/adults are, and its been really great to know that their intentions are dedicated to our best interests. I think that the program as a whole is wonderfully organized and beneficial to many aspects of our learning.”
“Phenomenal! Compared to other chamber music programs I’ve done, I feel that ChamberMusicLab was the most musically-enriching program of them all (due to the high calibre). ”
“My experience at ChamberMusicLab has been, hands down, the best chamber experience I’ve ever had. I’ve grown so much as a musician and have learned so much. ”
Click here to apply online!

To build a community of gifted and enthusiastic middle and high school musicians, drawn together by their mutual passion for chamber music and an unremitting willingness to work hard. Initially based in string quartets and piano trios, it is our hope that the program will grow to include wind and brass ensembles, as well as mixed and percussion ensembles.

ChamberMusicLab is an intensive chamber music study course, involving a year-long commitment of weekly 3-hour rehearsals and coaching to learn and explore in depth the experience of being in a chamber music group. During 2020-21, over 30 middle and high school students came to Rivers every Saturday to participate seven string quartets and two piano trios. ChamberMusicLab provides a quasi-professional experience, in order to teach both the musical and interpersonal insights required for success in chamber music. It demands a high level of individual instrumental proficiency as well as curiosity about how one’s part fits into the whole. It demands commitment to the exacting work of matching pitch, timbre, gesture and stylistic concept with colleagues, in a manner that sustains and grows relationships.

The animating idea of this program is that chamber music training teaches essential extra-instrumental skills and requires that they happen concurrently: chamber music forces simultaneous playing and listening, reacting and responding, leading and following, and, crucially, the art of being the soloist one moment, disappearing into the background next, being a song partner next, and so on. One must hear and play one’s part in the context of the whole, much like living one’s life as part of a community. For that reason, rehearsals and coachings will always involve playing from the score, and possibly from memory.

The philosophy of the program is to teach chamber music skills in great detail from the very beginning. There is an intentional focus on quality of learning over quantity of repertoire covered. A group may spend an entire semester on a single movement. This implies intensive attention on execution (i.e. insistent focus on precision, accuracy of articulation, intonation and phrasing, style, and musical concept). Most importantly, the emphasis is on developing performances by participants that evince deep knowledge of the piece they have learned and palpable ownership of a common interpretive point of view. While rehearsals, master classes, and coachings take place on Saturdays, participants admitted to the program are expressly expected to prepare their chamber music parts as they would their solo repertoire, and to spend time listening to various recommended performances of their repertoire with the score as part of their preparation for Saturday sessions.

Bruce Coppock (cello, ChamberMusicLab Director)

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Gabriela Diaz (violin, Co-Artistic Director of Winsor Music)

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Danny Kim (viola, BSO)

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Eugene Kim (cello)

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Ronald Lowry (cello)

ChamberMusicLab will take place at two levels, RSC ChamberMusicLab and Honors ChamberMusicLab.

The Honors ChamberMusicLab, designed for very advanced pre-college students, is a full scholarship program, with 90-minute coachings, 90-minute rehearsals on regular schedule days.” Approximately 8 Saturdays per semester we operate on the “Master Class Schedule”, 1 hour master classes, 60-minute coachings and 60-minute rehearsals.  Every Honors group plays in at least one master class per semester.  There are many performance opportunities:  on RSC Friday evening recitals, on several ChamberMusicLab recitals during each semester, and in community concerts arranged through RSC with partner organizations.  Each semester the faculty awards performance opportunities on the Honors Chamber Music Concert.  RSC will support enterprising groups in competition preparation and in preparing their own recitals, with the support of their coach.

RSC ChamberMusicLab is designed for serious music students who want to develop their chamber music skills in a more intensive environment.  RSC ChamberMusicLab is designed to hasten development of chamber music skills and to prepare students for the Honors ChamberMusicLab.  RSCChamberMusicLab  carries a tuition fee of $1,010 per semester and provide two hours of instruction time per week on “regular schedule day (see above).  On Master Class Schedule” days, RSC ChamberMusicLab students are required attend master classes, and if time and circumstances permit, may be invited to play in them.  There are many performance opportunities:  on RSC Friday evening recitals, on several ChamberMusicLab recitals during each semester, and in community concerts arranged through RSC with partner organizations. RSC will support enterprising groups in competition preparation and in preparing their own recitals, with the support of their coach.

ChamberMusicLab will take place on Saturdays at RSC in Weston, MA. Both RSC ChamberMusicLab and Honors ChamberMusicLab will meet concurrently on 32 Saturdays annually between September 18, 2021  and June 5, 2022, from 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Each student will be in one of two shifts – 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM or 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Master classes also take place during the 11AM-12PM hour, common to each shift.    

In recognition of competing schedule demands, such as SATs, PSATs, ACTs, and religious holidays, the program has also been designed to offer a smorgasbord of chamber music-related activities – critical listening, repertoire sessions, sight-reading, the coach sitting in as a player/coach as appropriate – when one or more members’ absence renders regular coaching impractical.

Auditions for 2021-2022 both Honors and RSC ChamberMusicLab will take place in two phases: preliminary auditions will take place online (video recordings of two contrasting movements) through “Acceptd” (May 17 Deadline), and live final auditions will be held in mixed ensembles at RSC on June 12 between 9-12 AM. Pre-formed ensembles are welcome to apply. Applicants not accepted to ChamberMusicLab are welcome to participate in the RSC Studio Chamber Music program.

There will be a late summer application cycle, with a September 5 Late Summer Online Audition Deadline and live auditions September 11, from 1 PM-5 PM for both ChamberMusicLabs. Studio Chamber Music has an online application deadline of September 11 (no recordings required) and required live auditions on September 18 (1–5 PM) and 19 (12–3 PM).

Most programs will be at capacity by that point, so applicants are strongly encouraged to apply in the May-June cycle.

Great chamber music playing can be compared to the phenomenon of a basketball team on a fast break. Just as a fast break requires players to execute technically while simultaneously running, passing, catching, reacting, reading the court, and having an awareness of where every player is at all times, chamber music requires that we play our instruments and parts well while simultaneously listening, reacting, adjusting, anticipating, and hearing the other parts. This is what ChamberMusicLab aspires to teach. Learning to navigate differences of opinion and personality and developing the radar to “read the room” are essential goals of this program. These skills, uniquely learned through immersion in chamber music, translate directly into skills young people need to succeed in any field – medicine, law, and many others in which the combination of talent, grit, and collaboration are critical success factors.

With the gradual lifting of COVID restrictions ChamberMusicLab will actively seek opportunities for students perform in the community and at special events to promote the study of music at RSC. As ambassadors for RSC and Rivers, all students and faculty are expected to exemplify The Rivers School’s value of Excellence with Humanity. ChamberMusicLab is particularly proud of its collaboration with Music for Food, a musician-led initiative to fight hunger in our local communities.

ChamberMusicLab is an outgrowth of QuartetLab, a 7-year-old program created by Bruce Coppock, Chair of the RSC Chamber Music Department and co-founder of the Boston Chamber Music Society, when he was president and managing director of the renowned Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. It continued after his retirement to Boston in 2017; the program was absorbed into The Rivers School Conservatory in 2020-21, and featured seven string quartets and two piano trio.

Previous ChamberMusicLab participants have been enthusiastic in their praise of the program:

“In five years of studying music in Boston, I can easily say that my ChamberMusicLab experience was unparalleled. The opportunity to study chamber music, while having the time and guidance to delve deep into a work, is something incredibly rare. My three years ChamberMusicLab were like being in a professional quartet: I came to know my colleagues (friends really) in a very special way, learning how they think about music, and figuring out how we can come together to present a stunning, coherent, and innovative musical work.”

“ChamberMusicLab is like no other chamber music experience I probably will ever have and gave us a profound connection to chamber music. The teaching challenged me and the other members of the quartet to become the finest chamber musicians we could be.”

“Thank you for making . . . this year a special musical experience. Your passion and utter love for music is contagious, making each week a reminder that music is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing. You have taught me countless things this year about how to be a chamber musician, but especially how to make a piece my own.”

“I cannot thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me and our group. I have learned more about music and chamber music from ChamberMusicLab than any camp, master class or any other group in the past. I really feel like this experience helped me reach a whole new level of musicality. Thank you again so much for teaching us things we would otherwise never learn anywhere else and loving it through tough and fun times.”

“Through [QuartetLab] I have come to realize how vital it is to clearly communicate ideas and have a well-informed opinion about the music. Because you coached us on how to work with each other, I found I have the ability to tolerate and trust others. The slow and meticulous work on intonation has opened my ears to a new kind of projection: resonance. You reminded me that the music is why we play these amazing pieces, not the flashy dance that can be performed alongside it. But most importantly, you taught me how to sing. You taught me how to tell a story, how to take listeners on a journey without words or pictures. Thank you so much for your dedication and care.”

For further information, please email Bruce Coppock at b.coppock@rivers.org.