(Video Courtesy of Lily Liu ’17)
On November 7, 2016, Thompsonia, a mother-father-daughter music ensemble, performed at Hubbard. What’s special about this ensemble is that two of its members, Suzy Thompson ’72 and Allegra Thompson ’06, were student musicians at Loomis. Besides attending the concert, some students also had the chance to work with the family band on Tuesday morning.
The Thompsons certainly impressed many audience members with their “infectious energy” and music style. According to Suzy Thompson, she chose the string band style ragtime — a style characterized by the syncopated melodic lines that were popular from 1890 to 1915 — because she enjoys “the swing of [string band style ragtime], which has its roots in dance music.” Ms. Bovell, the Loomis Chaffee Orchestra Director, also commended the ensemble’s music selection, remarking that Thompsonia “worked incredibly well together…and the music that they chose included a nice variety.”
The family dynamic of the ensemble also warmed the audience’s heart. As Jocelyn Chen ’19 commented after concert, “The family looked really adorable on stage, and the connections within their family and to the Chaffee School added more meanings to the music that they played.”
Suzy Thompson’s incredible “fiddle skills” also wowed the crowd. “It was honestly amazing,” said Calabria Defazio ’20. “When she played her first song, I was like, ARE her fingers even moving? That’s how fast the song was.”
The family band also held music workshops with the Loomis Chaffee Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, and the Concert Choir on Tuesday. During the workshop, Suzy, Allegra, and Eric led Loomis musicians to learn their pieces by ear — by hearing one phrase at a time and combining all of the phrases together. Jocelyn Chen ’19, a Chamber Singer and member of the Concert Choir, said, “It was amazing to see Ms. Chrz hopping on stage and sharing a teary moment with her former student Allegra as Ms. Chrz exclaimed that her ‘old’ student is now teaching her ‘new’ students.”
Maddie Hong ’19, a cellist, was also impressed that Thompsonia was “able to make up the cello part right on the spot to fit into the melody of the violin, viola and bass.” Suzy Thompson was also stunned by “the ease with which the musicians learned the piece by ear…especially with good amount of swing and syncopation.” In addition, it was Suzy’s first time teaching the tune to a string orchestra, and she thought that “the blend of violins, violas, cellos, basses, and one ukulele was amazing… the Loomis Chaffee Orchestra played with a lot of feelings and good rhythm.”
Loomis musicians were very grateful for Thompsonia’s visit. As Lily Liu ’17, a four-year Chamber Singer remarked, “working with Thompsonia has truly been a unique experience, and I am glad they could share their incredible talents and music with our school.”