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Reverón Piano Trio Strikes a Chord With Student Musicians

Ana María Otamendi of the Reveron Piano Trio works with Dickinson student-musicians Elisa Varlotta ‘20 (violin), Yiran Ying ’20 (cello) and Ruby Ngo ‘22 (piano).

Ana María Otamendi of the Reveron Piano Trio works with Dickinson student-musicians Elisa Varlotta '20 (violin), Yiran Ying '20 (cello) and Ruby Ngo '22 (piano). Photo by Carl Socolow '77.

Venezuelan trio's on-campus residency informs, inspires

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

The Department of Music welcomed Reverón Piano Trio to campus for an eventful four-day residency. The Venezuelan trio (Simón Gollo, violin; Ana María Otamendi, piano; Horacio Contreras, cello) aims not only to introduce global audiences to underrepresented chamber music from Latin America but also to provide cultural context behind it. So in addition to interacting with students in small group settings and a free presentation of work—as all Dickinson artists-in-residence do—the musicians delivered talks on cultural history and their own related life experiences while sharing information and techniques that can help music students learn new works.

The artistic residency, one of several major arts events this semester, began Oct. 10, with a community outreach presentation at Carlisle High School, and ended with an Oct. 13 public concert. In between, the musicians led two master classes, visited an introductory music theory class and delivered talks on Latinx identity, music and the current crisis in Venezuela, including its impact on Venezuelan musicians. Otamendi additionally discussed the latest neuroscience research on how to study more efficiently.

The neuroscience presentation seemed tailor made for Uyen Dam ’20, a pianist and double major in music and psychology who also took a piano master class with Otamendi. “She explained the psychology behind the process of learning and applied it beautifully to music,” said Dam, who plans to put those techniques to work in the practice room.

For Maic Wrehde, an exchange student from Germany, Reverón's description of El Sistema—a pedagogical method common in Venezuela in which one student shares knowledge with another, who in turn, helps the next student—was as inspiring as it was helpful. “The whole pedagogic approach of teaching values and discipline by means of artistic expression was really moving,” he said, noting that this concept can be applied to other endeavors, such as sports or studies. “It helps students see connections and be creative and cooperative in their problem-solving.”

For Elisa Varlotta ’20 (mathematics), a Latina violinist, it was the cultural context that resonated.

“I feel that Latinos are not represented in the classical music world, and it was empowering to hear them talk about their experiences. It was also very moving to hear them perform outside of the traditional classic repertoire and play pieces from Argentina, Spain and Brazil,” said Varlotta, who took part in a master class and attended the culturally themed lecture and concert. “They spoke about being ambassadors for their country and region, and they definitely are.”

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Published October 21, 2019