Kindred spirits: Twin passions ignite for violin duet

Bill Thomas, A&E Editor

On the surface, mathematics and music seem to exist on opposite ends the spectrum. The former is rigid in its rationality while the latter is emotional, creative and expressive. For Rebecca Kuc, however, there’s more in common between the two than meets the eye.

Or ear, as the case may be.

“It’s statistically proven that a lot of people who are good in math and science tend to also have a brain for music,” Kuc said “I think it helps with your analytical way of thinking.”

As a freshman majoring in math with minors in statistics and music, she would know. The technical complexity of both math and music is the bridge between the two.

A bridge, one could say, between the right and left brains.

“In high school, I took music theory courses. When you understand music theory, you understand music better in general and you understand how analytical is really is. You think about why the composer did what he did and how the notes fit together to make it all work.”

That level of understanding has been crucial for Kuc in preparing for the upcoming Wilkes University Chamber Orchestra concert that will be held this Wednesday, at 7:30 p.m. in the main auditorium of the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center for the Performing Arts.

As part of the concert, Kuc will join Jennie Smith in performing Antnio Vivaldi’s “Concerto for Two Violins.” It’s an ambitious, challenging piece, one that places Kuc and Smith front and center, leading the orchestra, soloing back and forth and interweaving their parts in and out of each another.

Like Kuc, Smith, a sophomore pre-pharmacy major, has a scientific mind.

“It’s definitely technically challenging, but I enjoy that. I enjoy Vivaldi and I enjoying playing this,” Smith said, adding that the amount of rehearsal required for the piece extends back beyond just the current semester.

“Back in the fall, I said that we had to pick the piece before Christmas break because I knew I’d have a lot of time then to practice, but not a lot of time during the semester. Thankfully, it hasn’t been too hard to pick up. I never get to practice as much as I’d like to because I always have so many things going on. I usually go an hour or an hour and a half early to rehearsal to practice.”

All this despite Smith admitting that, when she first came to Wilkes, she was concerned about not being able to have time for the musical aspects of her life. Though such concerns were quickly quashed, they’re not hard to understand, given that, for Smith, playing violin has been a regular part of her life since the fourth grade.

In that sense, she’s found something of a kindred spirit in Kuc, who likewise has been in love with the violin for a long, long time.

“There was a group that came to our church when I was very little, and they had a girl who played violin,” Kuc recalled. “Ever since then, I was completely hooked. We’d be flipping through channels on the T.V. and there’d be a classical concert on and, even as a two-year-old, I’d stop playing with toys and go and sit by the T.V. By the time first grade was over, I’d bugged my mom enough that she let me take private lessons.”

Kindred spirits indeed. Their twin passions for violin and mutually analytical minds have allowed for a seemingly ideal performing relationship, one which, like the best pieces of classical music, flows back and forth with exceptional fluidity.

“It’s been great working with Rebecca,” Smith said. “We’ve been able to connect really well. There’s a certain level of communication that you need when you’re performing, obviously not verbal. What’s great is that not only have we been able to connect, the two of us, but we’re also able to connect with the rest of the orchestra.”

Admission to the Chamber Orchestra concert on Wednesday is free.