Tiny Ref Desk Concerts Roars Back to Life


Faith Hoffman

Quintessence players perform

The Tiny Ref Desk Concert series made its long-awaited return earlier this year. The concert series is modeled after NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, where musicians perform live music in an intimate setting. The second concert of the series, hosted April 28 in the Conservatory Library, featured the Quintessence woodwinds and horn quintet.

The “Ref” in the title of the series alludes to the reference desk in the Conservatory Library, the home of Conservatory Public Services Librarian Kathy Abromeit, who founded the series in October 2018. For the 2020–2021 academic year, the Conservatory Library was closed to students, forcing the concert series to go on hiatus.

Abromeit noted that because fall 2021 was the first time nearly half of the student body had the opportunity to enter the Conservatory Library, foot traffic has been lower and students have had trouble navigating the library — both as an academic and performance resource and also a social and communal space.

“It’s almost like reintroducing the series all over again,” Abromeit said of the concerts.

She observed that because roughly half of students were unable to physically use the library until last semester, they don’t realize it is a feature of the Conservatory community.

“The first concert we had [this year], I just cried,” Abromeit said. “It was so joyous to be back in the space.” 

While concerts this year have featured much smaller groups than were common prepandemic, the concert series’ return was received warmly by both audience members and performers.

Third-year Bassoon major and Quintessence member AJ Neubert enjoyed showing his colleagues the work he has done with his quintet and remarked on the intimacy of the performance setting. 

“The setting was very personal and allowed for a real connection between the quintet and the audience,” he said. 

Quintessence’s Tiny Ref Desk concert featured Tzigane by Valerie Coleman and the first movement of Carl Nielsen’s Wind Quintet, Op. 43. 

The members of the Quintessence woodwinds and horn quintet are Ben Smith, flute; Katelyn Poetker, clarinet; Jonathan Kronheimer, oboe; AJ Neubert, bassoon; and Oved Rico, horn. The quintet has been working together for two semesters and has also performed in recitals and at Kendal at Oberlin.

The next Tiny Ref Desk Concert will take place  Friday, May 13 at noon in the Conservatory Library and will feature chamber music.