Rachel Desoer and quartet troupe, Cecilia Strings, open Mooredale Concerts
There’s something special about how chamber music tells a story and resonates with an audience.
That’s why cellist Rachel Desoer chose her instrument at five years old and has been playing ever since.
The Cecilia Strings Quartet member is seated in the Mad Bean on Eglinton Avenue West,. She flashes a knowing smile while verbally reconnecting to her past.
“I found [cello and chamber music] the most interesting music I had ever been exposed to,” she says, adding the combination of instruments and melodies allows the musicians to express themselves, and intimately connect with others.
“When that’s working, it’s quite thrilling on stage.”
The Casa Loma resident decided at 12 she was going to make a career of playing the cello. It eventually landed her in a troupe that performs music for children on the autism spectrum.
Cecilia Strings members Min-Jeong Koh, Sarah Nematallah, Caitlin Boyle and Desoer introduced the idea while performing with their mentors, the St. Lawrence String Quartet at Stanford University.
They called their performances the Xenia Concerts.
Though it was not a concert specifically for children with autism, it was the “germ of an idea” that interested the Cecilia String Quartet.
“We were just very moved by the experience,” Desoer says. “We felt we connected with the audience in a different way than usual.”
“I see a lot of kids who focus, who move, or come up to us afterwards and tell us, very specifically, what they loved. They get very attached to us as people,” Desoer says. “One of the things that moved us a lot is that we see kids connecting with their parents a lot. It’s a family outing where parents don’t have to worry about the behaviour of their children.”
Much like the music they perform as a troupe, there is plenty going on. They’re also looking to partner with the Elizabeth Fry Society to create a program for women at risk with the law.
They’ve also been showered with accolades, including their Mendelssohn: Op. 44 nos. 1,2 album being nominated for a 2016 Juno Award in the Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber Ensemble category.
“That was a bit surprising. It’s great,” Desoer says it almost never got produced as it posed the biggest challenge for them.
Next is their launching of the Mooredale Concert series at Walter Hall on Sept. 25.
Desoers says she’s most looking forward to connecting with the kids during the Music and Truffles event that precedes the adult concert.
“We always have outreach programs for children,” she says. “It’s nice to do that on home turf.”