You Can Make This Up, Say the Musicians in the New Leaf Ensemble

by Mark Bialczak | 9 months ago

New Leaf Ens TrioThere could be surprises sprung at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, in the Carman Community Room during the third concert of the Fall Music Series: From Bluegrass to Polka to Holiday Favorites.

 The three members of the New Leaf Ensemble promise a set of classical music marked by their trademark improvisational style.

Jessica Wooldridge King, Steve Rosenfeld and Alina Plourde call themselves “Central New York’s Improvising Chamber Ensemble.”

The bassoonist, pianist and oboe player will look out into the audience and read the mood of the audience as they decide exactly how they’ll perform during their set.

“There are a number of ways that we engage audiences, and it very much depends on the attitude and receptivity of the audience. They will decide how different aspects of the music play out – mood, instrumentation, style, and even pitch content can be driven by audience suggestion,” says Wooldridge King, on the right in the photo above. “I don't want to give away how we do that, because that's part of the fun, but I can tell you that no one will be put on the spot! Sometimes the experience is quite participatory, involving clapping or humming. We once had particularly boisterous audience that participated by singing and dancing, and even one audience member who conducted us! That wasn't in our plan for that show, but the cool thing about improv is that you can go with the flow and have the kind of show that suits the people you're with.”

Nevertheless, they won’t wander completely away from their core.

“At our heart, we are a classical chamber music ensemble much like a string quartet or a woodwind quintet. Alina, Steve, and I have degrees in performance from conservatories, and like to play with a level of polish you'd expect from any other professional chamber music ensemble,” she says. “We like to think that we're different in that our personalities really shine through in our improvisations. We also truly believe that everyone is capable of playing and understanding music, and we encourage people to dare to do so! Music is not something you should leave to the professionals. It is best when it is participatory.”

Here is a YouTube example of Jessica improvising with Alina this past March:

Here’s a visit back to Fritz’s Polka Band’s performing Bialczak's Polka in the Carman Community Room concert on Oct. 21:

The series is presented in partnership with the Liverpool Is the Place committee and made possible by a grant secured by Senator John A. DeFrancisco.

The final show of the series features holiday selections by The Onyx Clarinet Quartet at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9.