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The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

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Le Quartet Valère

An accomplished string quartet from Switzerland comes all the way to Dallas to play and to speak with Hockaday students.

The first violinist, Arianna Dotto, brought her instrument up and then down, signaling the first beat. Suddenly, the sound of Mozart’s elegant, moving music drifted over Hockaday girls. The cellist plays a deeper, softer tone as he leans in towards the violinist and they both smile and nod to signal the success of their perfect harmony.

The Quartet Valere traveled across the ocean from Switzerland, and, after stopping to play at UT Arlington, arrived at Hockaday on Oct. 17.  The string quartet was comprised of Arianna Dotto, David Sypniewski, Jonas Bouaniche and Joachim Angster—with three different types of instrument—two violins, one cello and one viola, respectively.

They played a mixture of Mozart and Schumann for students. The assembly was arranged by Ed Long, Lead Chair of the Fine Arts Department, and Dr. Sergio Espinosa, father of seventh grader Sofia.

Sergio Espinosa, a conductor who travels around Dallas giving lectures about music to upcoming musicians, discovered the quartet, which was formed last February, through his former teacher at a Switzerland conservatory where Espinosa played violin.

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“He thought it was a good opportunity for them to play here,” Sophia said.

A quartet is defined simply as four instruments that are all string instruments. Quartet groups are supposed to all be very similar and not unique, Long said.

In this specific quartet, two instruments, the first and second violin, are the same. Sergio Espinosa said, “it is the same instrument but one plays a little bit higher and the other one a little bit lower. One is not more important than the other.”

“The most impressive aspect of the string quartet is that they play without a conductor.” Long said. “They rely on body language and eye contact to signal beats.”

Not only was it a chance for Hockaday girls to listen and learn about a string quartet, but also a chance for French students to serve as translators for the quartet members.

In between songs, students asked the members questions in French, such as when they began playing their instrument and why they continued playing today.

The quartet faced obstacles during their trip to the United States, however, when they discovered that part of a viola was broken. Although the violist could have borrowed another instrument, it would not have been ideal.

“Just like practicing with one race car and then going to the race with a different one, it’s hard,” Sergio Espinosa said.

Fortunately, members of the quartet were able to stop at a shop to fix it and were finally able to make it to Hockaday, bearing cheerful smiles and ready to play. In addition to suffering damage to an instrument, the quartet’s luggage was sent to Phoenix, Ariz. instead of Dallas. They were forced to borrow Sergio Espinosa’s clothes; the three men wore white long oxfords with slacks and the woman wore a long-sleeved black shirt with slacks. The quartet members were unable to be personally interviewed because of schedule conflicts and language barrier.

The French students learned a lot from the assembly. Sophomore Jessica said, “I think the assembly helped me to realize that I am better at French than I thought I was. Also, since I could understand what all the musicians were saying, I gained confidence in my French language abilities.”

After the assembly, seniors Lillian, Claire, LinLin and Rebecca had the opportunity to play with the quarter member in a masterclass.

Claire said she enjoyed watching the quartet perform because of the different background they had.

“It was interesting to have the musicians evaluate our playing because their ideas and suggestions were from a different perspective than our usual instructors’,” she said.

The Quartet Valere was a special treat for Hockaday girls and hopefully they are able to visit again, maybe next time with their own luggage and no broken instruments.

-Charlsea

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