Cavatina: The Inner Life of Ensemble

Presented by GAP in collaboration with Wigmore Hall
Saturday 4 June 2016 2:00PM – 4:00PM at Wigmore Hall

In this unique lecture-recital, Professor Paul Robertson, leader of the renowned Medici String Quartet, in conversation with Tia Kuchmy, Jungian analyst, offer a depth psychological perspective on the inner workings and emotional dynamics of music and ensemble playing.

The lecture will weave around the story of the Medici String Quartet, from its inception through to its crowning achievement – the magnificent recording of the complete cycle of Beethoven’s string quartets. Paul and his fellow musicians will share their experiences of the psychological dynamics of a string quartet: how the four negotiate their own inner ensemble of sometimes conflicting psychic energies with that of the music, the great, impersonal archetype that binds to its service all who are called upon to be its instrument.

Jungian psychology's deep understanding of the unconscious as the source of creativity – in this case music-making – is at the heart of this event.

The numinous quality that has always attached itself to music, to the instruments that produced it, and to those special people whose power summons it from the invisible realm, has provoked humans to the greatest feats of imagination. Music has always appeared godlike, and the status of gods is still assigned to musicians of all sorts, whether it be the virtuoso pianist or violinist, or the latest number one pop-singer.
Jung writes of the two kinds of thinking, directed thinking and fantasy-thinking, and it is clear that the maker of music employs an example of the latter. Jung identifies this kind of thinking as that which uses images rather than words. The images we become aware of are aural rather than visual, and they connect us to the ‘oldest layers of the human psyche’.

© Jim Fitzgerald

To quote Jung, ‘To round itself out, life calls not for perfection, but for completeness’. The Medici String Quartet, in its final performance and fitting tribute to its musical life together, will play Beethoven’s Cavatina to symbolise just that. As 1st and 2nd violin, viola and cello play to bridge apparently irreconcilable opposites, the audience will witness a completion of sorts that will inspire reflection on the nature of relationship, with-in and with-out, and its special place in each of our lives.