CORONAVIRUS

Red Cedar Chamber Music launching online concert series

With spring concerts on hold, Red Cedar Chamber Music will livestream #x201c;Swiss Family Bostian#x201d; from the Bostia
With spring concerts on hold, Red Cedar Chamber Music will livestream “Swiss Family Bostian” from the Bostian family’s Iowa City home from Wednesday through Saturday. Guests Oliver (from left) and Adrian Bostian will join their parents, Red Cedar’s core musicians, Miera Kim and Carey Bostian, in April and May concert series online. (Red Cedar Chamber Music)

Carey Bostian and Miera Kim of Red Cedar Chamber Music actually prefer performing in intimate settings, so this week and again in May, they will be appearing in your living room with sons Oliver, 17, and Adrian, 15, as their guest musicians.

But the only way to get personal in this time of social distancing is through a computer, smartphone, tablet or TV screen — wherever audiences can connect online via redcedar.org or the ensemble’s YouTube or Facebook sites.

At Meth-Wick, one of Red Cedar’s regular performance sites, the concert will be livestreamed on the community’s in-house television channel, so it will be easy for residents to tune in for the hourlong event.

The goal is to reach the folks who would otherwise attend Red Cedar’s Music for Seniors, Music in Libraries, Rural Outreach and Community Concerts.

“It’s an opportunity to think outside the box and do things that we wouldn’t normally do, like hiring our own children,” said Bostian, 52, Red Cedar’s cellist and artistic director, by phone from his Iowa City home.

“The same thing is true on the audience’s end,” he said. “Everyone is looking for ways to normalize their life. This won’t be the Red Cedar experience that they’re accustomed to — which is in a small audience, just a few feet away from us, (making for) a unique and intimate experience. We’re going to try. Certainly, the music is very good, and we’ll have something to say about it to try and make it personal. But it’s still coming through the internet, so the audience has to innovate, as well.”

“I think it’s a good opportunity for people, because we’re talking about getting back to normal, and is it really going to be the same? There’s going to be a new normal, at least for the foreseeable future. Everyone’s got to open themselves up and adapt.”

He’s having to adapt to the technology, too.

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“Our original timetable was to produce these concerts last week,” he said on Friday, “but it took two weeks — with high-quality audio and high-quality video — to get all the equipment together and the software and figure out how to use it, and to work out all the bugs.”

With two teenage boys sequestered at home, Bostian turned to son Adrian for technological advice.

“He sat with me quite a bit and was really helpful,” Bostian said, “and I was able to give him a couple things to do on his own, which was really helpful, as well.”

No outside helpers will be there running the show. The quartet will be flying solo — although a couple of cats may make their presence known.

“It’s just us,” Bostian said. “There may need to be a couple things that we need to do once it gets going, but if the concert’s scheduled for 1 p.m., we’ll press ‘go live’ at 12:58 and end the stream when it’s over.”

Because they’re used to seeing and feeding off the energy of their audiences, they may heed the advice of Red Cedar co-founder Jan Boland, who suggested they tape a photograph above their camera, so they can pretend someone is in the room where it happens.

Swiss Family Bostian

The program’s title has a double meaning, the most obvious playing off “The Swiss Family Robinson,” an 1812 novel about a family shipwrecked on a deserted island for 10 years. The classic tale would later spin onto TV and movie screens, stages and video games.

The title also reflects the second movement of a cello duet by F.A. Kummer, titled “Swiss Theme and Variations.”

“This is the hardest Kummer cello duet that I’ve ever seen,” Bostian said. “It’s very exciting. Adrian and I love to play it together. We’ve played it a lot, and in public a good bit.”

Another work also has a double significance. The fact that “Quartettino” sounds a lot like “Quarantine” isn’t lost on Bostian.

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“I thought of that after an autocorrect. I thought I should change it to that, but no,” he said with a laugh.

The title really means “small quartet,” and was written in a classical style by Red Cedar’s composer-in-residence, Michael Kimber of Iowa City, using his alias, Ludwig Wolfgang von Kimber. He wrote it about 10 years ago, after being invited to bring his viola to the Bostian home to play on a Mozart quartet with Bostian on cello, Kim on violin, and their niece, a talented high school oboist.

“And then he went home and wrote this piece for our family, even before the boys were playing stringed instruments,” Bostian said, adding that even though it was originally composed for oboe, violin, viola and cello, it works well for a string quartet of two violins and two cellos.

“It’s a great way to include something by our composer-in-residence on the program, and it’s also a family piece. We love it.”

Audiences will hear Ernst von Dohnanyi’s “Serenade” for violin, viola and cello, too, in the concert that will be serious in tone.

“It’s three significant works of chamber music,” Bostian said. “It’s a short program, it’s just about 50 minutes of music. ... We will talk about each piece, which is the way Red Cedar presents things.

“It doesn’t have an overarching narrative, it’s more of a traditional chamber music concert. We have a personal connection to each piece of music, but they’re not really related to each other, except that they make a good program, which is a little atypical for a Red Cedar program.”

The May concerts, which also feature the couple and their sons, will be a little more diverse, he said.

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“We’ll going to play a couple things as our little weird string quartet of two violins and two cellos, with me playing viola part (on the cello).”

That program will include Bostian and Adrian playing Paganini’s “Moses” variations, arranged for two cellos.

“It’s a virtuoso piece,” Bostian said. “It’s even harder than the solo version, because you have to do all the pyrotechnics and you have to accompany.”

They also will play more works by Kimber, and finish with a Mozart piano quartet, with all of them playing the instruments they actually play — violin, viola and cello, with Adrian on piano.

Even though this series marks the first time Oliver and Adrian will perform on Red Cedar concerts, they’ve been playing with their parents since they started piano lessons at age 4, before adding stringed instruments.

Family involvement continued with their Suzuki Method studies at Iowa City’s renowned Preucil School of Music, in which parents act as “home teachers,” attending their children’s lessons then practicing with them at home.

Bostian, Kim and sons also give private concerts for family and social events, and travel to perform recitals at relatives’ summer beach vacations and during Thanksgiving trips to an uncle’s senior living residence in Madison, Wis.

“This is the way our family approach to music has always been. If we can make music together, it’s more rewarding for everyone, and to include people of all levels,” Bostian said. “So they’ve grown up being very comfortable playing music and performing with anybody, and with their parents.

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“Sometimes it’s a little difficult between parents and children. Musical study is sometimes very difficult to keep a positive and healthy relationship, especially when the parents are professionals. But frankly, we have been very lucky,” he said, because of the family interaction fostered at the Preucil School.

Comments: (319) 368-8508; diana.nollen@thegazette.com

To watch

• What: Red Cedar Chamber Music: “Swiss Family Bostian” concert series

• Who: Carey Bostian, Miera Kim and sons Oliver and Adrian Bostian

• Wednesday: 1 p.m. at youtu.be/w6dyOpwwJRM

• Thursday: 7 p.m. at youtu.be/Ygq_gHrYzdU

• Friday: 7 p.m. at youtu.be/BELSOz3AxG0

• Saturday: 1 p.m. at youtu.be/PDB3PiRgvEY

• Also streaming: redcedar.org and Facebook @RedCedarChamberMusic

Next series

• What: Red Cedar: “All in the Family” concerts

• When: Same schedule, May 5 to 9

• To watch: redcedar.org; YouTube channel RedCedarChamberMusic; and Facebook@RedCedarChamberMusic

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