Beyond the concert hall

Seraphim Chamber Artists to play Tipp City’s Concerts in the Park

 By Sara Mastbaum

Photo: Seraphim Chamber Artists will perform at Tipp City Park on Sept. 14

While many associate classical music with dressing up, forking over big money and being afraid to cough, there are as many ways to enjoy it as there are classical pieces. Take listening out in the elements, for instance. The Springfield-based Seraphim Chamber Artists is braving the great outdoors to present the final chapter in this year’s Concerts in the Park series, courtesy of the Tipp City Area Arts Council.

The concert rounds out a summer-long series of outdoor music events, promoted by the Tipp City Area Arts Council and supported by a grant from the Ohio Arts Council. Beginning in June with the popular Canal Music Fest, now in its fourth year, the series included Tipp City’s 7th Street Band in July and bluegrass band Nightflyer in August.

“Canal Music Fest has spawned the Canal Music Fest Series,” said Tipp City Area Arts Councilmember J.J. Slanker. Each of the concerts is held at Tipp City Park.

Seraphim Chamber Artists used the outdoor venue as an inspiration for the concert’s repertoire. “Since this is a daytime concert in a park, in the summer, a community gathering, we try to have programming that fits what that crowd has come out to hear,” said Barbi Garrett, the group’s artist director and violinist.

Don’t expect melancholy minor notes. On the menu are two bubbly string quartets by some of classical music’s heavy hitters. You may have heard of these guys: Beethoven’s Quartet No. 2 in G Major and Mozart’s Quartet No. 7 in E-Flat Major.

“We try to choose pieces that have a more lighthearted feel, more joyous,” Garrett said. “The first movement of the Mozart is very genteel and very happy. It almost sounds like a vacation. The last movement sounds a little bit like a romp. It’s very well suited to a nice outdoor weekend.”

If you’re not a classical music aficionado, you may be wondering how a piece that predates the Go-Go’s by about 200 years can bring to mind “vacation.” A fear of not understanding classical music is pretty common, in fact.

“We’ll be announcing to the audience some of these [ideas],” Garrett said. “It helps them enjoy it better, if they hear what we might have noticed about it or what we feel about it. People often come to a classical concert and tell us they may not understand it well enough to like it. You don’t need to understand it; we just want you to enjoy it. If we announce something they can listen for, it sort of gives them permission to enjoy it even though they might not understand it.”

Also appearing in the repertoire will be two pieces by Claude Debussy – Arabesque No. 2 and “Golliwog’s Cake Walk” – as well as a Hungarian Dance by Johannes Brahms and a Slavonic Dance by Antonin Dvorak.

A few other factors went into the choice of repertoire. Playing outdoors versus in the controlled environment of an acoustically-perfect concert hall presents its own set of challenges. Whipping wind plus sheet music can spell disaster, and the solution – clothespins – isn’t exactly ideal.

“If it’s very hot, that’s hard on string players,” Garrett said. “The humidity changes the way your fingers can actually navigate fingerboards; it can reduce your dexterity. But people love going to outdoor concerts, so we are delighted to overcome that difficulty.”

Seraphim Chamber Artists was founded in 2000 in response to a need from local choral groups and churches in need of live accompaniment. About four years later, the group began offering a string quartet. Currently, the group does very little accompaniment and focuses instead on giving concerts in their own right. It also pursues special projects, like appearing onstage in Clark State Community College’s 2008 production of “Pride and Prejudice.”

“What we end up doing the most is the string quartet,” Garrett said. “It’s the classic group that people already know about. It’s been the composer’s experimental ground for writing symphonies. It’s a group with the complete voices for a symphony … it’s the classic group that composers have written for down through the centuries.”

Featured at the Concerts in the Park performance will be violinist Heather York, violist Sara Kasten, cellist Gustavo Carpinteyro-Lara and Garrett, herself a violinist. The members of the quartet have fairly diverse backgrounds, but all have played professionally with symphony orchestras. At one point or another, each has performed with the Springfield Symphony.

Carpinteyro-Lara is currently pursuing his doctorate at University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. York, an alumna of the Springfield Youth Symphony, now plays with the Springfield Symphony. Kasten, who has been with Seraphim Chamber Artists for six years, enjoys playing with local symphonies, pit orchestras and even a few bluegrass bands. In addition to serving as artistic director for Seraphim, Garrett holds a seat in the Springfield Symphony, as well as serving as orchestra librarian.

The entire group is looking forward to heading to Tipp City and setting up on the lawn. “We hope to make classical music more accessible to people,” Garrett said.


Seraphim Chamber Artists perform on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 3:30 p.m. The concert will be held near the roundhouse in Tipp City Park, 35 Parkwood Dr. Admission is free and the event is open to the public. For more information, visit and

 Reach DCP freelance writer Sara Mastbaum at


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