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Arts & Culture

Video: New Houston Orchestra Takes Less Conventional Approach To Performing

KINETIC relies on its musicians to stay on time.


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Picture of Natalie Lin and Max Geissler
Amy Bishop
KINETIC founder Natalie Lin and principal cellist Max Geissler are grad students at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.

Playing without a conductor is not a new concept, but it's also not a common one — especially in Houston.

"I noticed that was something that the city didn't have," says violinist Natalie Lin, founder of the KINETIC Ensemble, which is in its inaugural season. She notes that other major U.S. cities have conductorless groups, such as New York City's Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Washington, D.C.'s Ars Nova Chamber Orchestra.

Picture of KINETIC in rehearsal
Amy Bishop
KINETIC rehearsing for their upcoming “Paysages” concert, a program of music by Bloch, Ireland, and Ysaye.

Lin explains that shedding the conductor allows every musician of the 16-member string orchestra to give their artistic input. It also means that everyone has to stay alert. It's their responsibility to recognize the cues.

So does that help improve musicianship?

"Oh my god, incredibly," says principal cellist Max Geissler, laughing, adding that the experience demands the skills used in playing chamber music. Ultimately, that has a lot to do with having a strong connection between the musicians during a performance.

"You have to communicate every little detail," Geissler says. "And that clarity can only help every aspect of your music-making."

KINETIC's members consist mostly of grad and undergrad music students at Rice University. Their next concert is Sunday, January 14th, at 4 p.m. inside Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Houston.

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