Over 80 musicians gather for a Play-In at the 92nd Street Y

Dvorak Piano Quintet at the 92nd Street Y, Left to right: Gabrielle Hemlick, Joe Hwang, Susan Alexander, Rachel Lulseged, and Stephanie Griffin

On June 2, 2024, over 80 adult amateur chamber musicians gathered for a Play-In co-produced by ACMP and the 92nd Street Y at the 92nd Street Y School of Music. With 11 rooms at our disposal, all but one with a grand piano, this was a dream Play-In venue – not to mention the full complement of chairs and stands, and the comprehensive chamber music library on site!

Even more important than the venue, was the opportunity to work with the 92nd Street Y School of Music’s fabulous staff. The whole initiative came about through ACMP’s existing relationship with Ruth Spencer, who runs the 92nd Street Y’s Friday Morning Chamber Music program. It’s basically a Play-In every Friday morning, and there’s even a $20 discount for members of ACMP. Through Ruth, I met the 92nd Street Y School of Music Executive Director Yana Stotland, Director Kyle Landry and Program Manager Lindsay Cabaniss. All three of them were highly involved in the various planning phases of this ambitious Play-In, and joined the entire ACMP staff – me, Joseph and Rachel – in managing the check-in procedure for 80 musicians all arriving at once in the half hour before the event.

None of us anticipated the response to this event, with over 100 players signing up within the first couple days of registration. How does one even organize a Play-In of this scope? We started with a literal “spread” sheet – see below.

A literal “spread” sheet: an easy hands-on way to organize a Play-In

If you feel like trying this yourself – make a page for each room and divide it into time slots. Then make multiple sets of cards for each musician with their names on one side and instrument and playing level on the other. Ruth and I spent about 5 hours throwing those cards around and putting people in groups. (The next step was entering all the information into excel, which took almost as long.) We tried to give each player at least 2 playing slots, but this was not possible for pianists (with 18 of them registered) or winds and brass. Sadly, there were a few players we were not able to place at all – but there’s always next time.

The next step was finding groups for the more unusual instruments. I enjoyed discovering repertoire I did not yet know, such as the Poulenc trio for trumpet, trombone and French horn, and Camille Saint-Saëns septet for trumpet, piano, string quartet and double bass. Then, of course, how does one accommodate nine flutists? There are, of course, the Mozart flute quartets and other lesser-known classical period works for flute and strings. Then there’s always Brandenburg 4 and a wide array of pieces for flute, cello and piano and flute, viola and piano. It’s luck of the draw, and we had no oboists, so wind quintets were not in the cards.

After finding repertoire for those players, we built other groups around our pianists – piano trios, quartets and quintets – and filled out the rest of the groups with various duos and string trios and quartets. We tried our very best to form groups according to playing level. In many cases we were successful, but this was also a reminder of how subjective the ACMP Playing Level Guide really is.

Once everything was all set, of course, there were the inevitable cancelations – illness, other commitments, etc. which necessitated a second wave of organization. I was nervous at the beginning of the event that some key players would not show up; we were, indeed, dangerously short on cellists. Nobody let us down, however, and the event went more smoothly than I had ever imagined.

Although there is some guesswork involved (especially in matching people by playing level), the spirit of ACMP is all about people of all backgrounds, ages and playing levels getting together, making new friends and playing chamber music for pure fun. That, we did accomplish!

I hope this Play-In will be the beginning of a deeper collaboration between ACMP and the 92nd Street Y, and I highly recommend that you all check out their regular adult chamber music programs:

Chamber Music: Coaching and Performance – Summer

Friday Morning Chamber Music Reading

Chamber Music: Coaching and Performance – Fall

Meanwhile, ACMP would also love to organize similar Play-Ins in collaboration with community music schools with adult amateur chamber music programs outside New York City. It that describes you, please drop me a line at sgriffin@acmp.net.

Here’s to many more great Play-Ins ahead…As the Worldwide Play-In slogan goes, let’s circle the globe with chamber music!

More Articles

Play-In Season in British Columbia, Part II: Vancouver

Vancouver NAOC councilor Christina Wolf hosted the official ACMP Vancouver Worldwide Play-In event on May 20, 2024 at Arts Umbrella on Granville Island. Twenty string players and two pianists were in attendance, from Vancouver and its outlying suburbs, Vancouver Island, Bellingham, Washington and The Bronx, NY.

Read More ↗

Play-In Season in British Columbia, Part I: Nanaimo

This Play-In season, Stephanie and her partner Hilliard Greene attended ACMP Play-Ins in British Columbia, Canada, starting with a visit with Jane Stein Wilson in Nanaimo.

Read More ↗

ACMP Listening Club: Schubert Octet in F major, D. 803

Join us for an exciting journey through Franz Schubert’s Octet in F major, D. 803, led by British conductor, composer, and educator Peter Fender. We'll dive deep into the first, fourth, and sixth movements of this captivating piece, written for clarinet, bassoon, French horn, string quartet, and double bass. Topics will include setting tempos, stage setup, characterization of the fourth movement variations, balancing the instrumentation, rhythms, best recordings, and much more.

Read More ↗

News of Note 2024

Hear ye, hear ye...read all about it! Check out the web version of the 2024 News of Note with highlights from this year's news, a cartoon, a recipe and even a puzzle. (Submit your answers by July 1.)

Read More ↗

Last-minute opportunity for Advanced Cellists: Full-Scholarship to Music Mountain’s Chamberfest (July 4 – 9)

Attention Advanced Cellists: One of ACMP's recent grantees in our 2024 Chamber Music Workshop and Community Music grant cycle has just lost a cellist and is offering a full scholarship to an advanced adult amateur cellist who can fill in on short notice for Music Mountain Chamberfest 2024: July 4-9 in Falls Village, Connecticut.

Read More ↗

Explore Schubert’s Octet with Peter Fender

Delve into Schubert's Octet with British conductor, composer and educator Peter Fender in the first edition of ACMP Listening Club on Sunday, June 3 at 2pm Eastern time.

Read More ↗

Wine, Weiner and Witt

Read ACMP violinist and coach María Catalina Paredes' story about the recent Just Play-supported concert “Wine, Weiner and Witt” in the city of Quito, Ecuador  at Café Rio Intag (and continued at Pizzaria Amici Miel) on March 11, 2024.  María Catalina organized this international gathering of ACMP members with the help of fellow Ecuadorian violinists Eudin Ramos and Keyber Perez and American cellist Tom Cappaert.

Read More ↗

Connecting the generations through music

Lorraine Marks-Field founded two intergenerational orchestras in New Jersey and Florida, emphasizing inclusivity and personal growth through music. Her approach connects players of all ages and abilities, fostering mentoring relationships and intergenerational bonds that extend beyond musical excellence to enrich lives.

Read More ↗

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Cal-Wiersma-class_20240407_ACMP_Cam-1.00_05_24_13.Still001-a-1600x1055.jpg

New Masterclass Video: Calvin Wiersma coaches Messiaen!

Check out the video recording from our recent class with violinist and chamber music! coach extraordinaire Calvin Wiersma on practice and rehearsal techniques in Olivier Messiaen’s seminal work, the "Quartet for the End of Time." During the class, Cal worked with ACMP musicians Kenneth Margolis (clarinet), Yolanda Wu (violin), Ben Pfeifer (cello) and Skip Kennon (piano.)

Read More ↗

Two new videos: ACMP Film Club

In 2023 ACMP launched its new Film Club series, and so far we have had two amazing conversations between filmmakers, musicians and our community. Watch the videos of both Film club events!

Read More ↗

2024 Worldwide Play-In Events

ACMP's Official Worldwide Play-In Weekend takes place from Friday, May 17 through Sunday, May 19, 2024 but we have extended the whole Worldwide Play-In initiative to encompass Play-Ins throughout May, which is National Chamber Music Month here in the United States, and early June. Keep checking this article and the ACMP Events and Workshops Directory for public Play-Ins near you!

Read More ↗

Sue Mistretta celebrates 10 years of Mountainside Chamber Music in Nelson, B.C.

Sue Mistretta is an ACMP member cellist in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada. Read my interview with Sue to learn more about the adult amateur music scene in Nelson, her life as an adult beginner, and her experience creating a chamber music workshop from the ground up and running it for ten years. Maybe you would like to take a trip to beautiful Nelson, B.C. for one of her workshops this summer. Hurry to make the "Early Bird" discount deadline of May 1.

Read More ↗

Notes from the Rehearsal Studio: Learning the “Quartet for the End of Time”

In advance of the live and livestreamed masterclass this Sunday, April 7, I interviewed the four intrepid adult amateur musicians who took on the first and sixth movements of Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time." For the clarinetists, pianists, violinists and cellists among you, I hope you will be inspired to delve into Messiaen's masterwork yourselves!

Read More ↗

Announcing the 2024 Worldwide Play-In Weekend: May 17-19

May is Chamber Music Month! And ACMP is happy to announce its official Worldwide Play-In weekend: Friday, May 17 through Sunday, May 19, 2024

Read More ↗

Calvin Wiersma class on Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time”: Sunday, April 7, 3pm ET

ACMP is proud to present a special live (and live-streamed) class with violinist and chamber music coach extraordinaire Calvin Wiersma on Olivier Messiaen's seminal work, the "Quartet for the End of Time," with ACMP member musicians Kenneth Margolis (clarinet), Yolanda Wu (violin), Ben Pfeifer (cello) and Walter Kennon (piano.)

Read More ↗

An orchestra that lives up to the ideals of the United Nations

Ever since the United Nations was founded nearly 80 years ago, it has stood for nothing less than “peace, justice, and better living for all humankind.” When it comes to living up to those ideals, nowhere does that happen more than every Wednesday night in a nondescript office across from UN headquarters.

Read More ↗

Meet Joel Epstein: violinist, violist, writer, arranger, educator and ACMP member since the 1970s

Violinist, violist, writer, arranger and educator Joel Epstein has been a member of ACMP since the 1970s. Get to know Joel and read about his book "Music for the Love of It: Episodes in Amateur Music-Making" and about his important work teaching music to status-less children in Israel.

Read More ↗

Meet ACMP Pianist and Educator James Daly

You may have been wondering about the people featured in the mockups for ACMP's new Timbre app-in-progress. AI was not involved in any way - all of those people are real members of ACMP with profiles in our Directory of Chamber Musicians. California-based pianist and educator James Daly is the man in the header image for the blog article about Timbre. Read all about his path to becoming a musician and educator and enjoy a 20% ACMP member discount on his original T-shirts and other merchandise.

Read More ↗

Timbre Reveal: a sneak peak at ACMP’s new app-in-progress

Take a sneak peek at “Timbre” - ACMP's first ever app, in its early stages of development. Timbre will be a fun, visual, and more immediate way to find other ACMP members while you’re casually scrolling on your phone.

Read More ↗

A conversation with filmmaker Hilan Warshaw

In the lead-up to the ACMP Film Club event about Hilan Warshaw's "Secret Song" on Sunday, February 18 at 2pm ET, ACMP's Executive Director Stephanie Griffin had the pleasure of catching up with Hilan, and asking him about how his background as a musician led to a unique career as a filmmaker with a primary focus on musical subjects.

Read More ↗

Load More


All Articles By