Leading from Within: How RSC’s Camerata Strings Ensemble Performs without a Conductor

RSC Conservatory News

On Thursday evenings in the fall, as the sun sinks into the crisp autumn night sky, musicians in RSC’s Camerata Strings fill Rivera Recital Hall with vibrant music—but with a twist—no conductor.

“Camerata Strings has really taught me how to lead and connect more with the other musicians in the ensemble,” says violinist Anna Kehayova. “Because we don’t have a conductor, a lot of members get the opportunity to lead, which means that I’ve learned more about leading a group, but I’ve also learned how important it is to follow and listen carefully when it’s someone else’s turn to lead.”

Since their start in 2017, this 20-musician ensemble has been dedicated to creating a space that inspires advanced string musicians to support each other’s creativity while rehearsing and performing at a high level. The ensemble is led by accomplished violinist and educator Marta Zurad, who also participates as a performer in the group. 

“Ms. Marta is one of the most inspiring teachers I have ever worked with,” shares cellist Sam Fasciano. “Her sheer dedication and love of music and her students inspire me… My peers are also all incredible; they are all talented in many ways, not just musically. I think we all challenge ourselves to rise to each other’s level when we play.” By emphasizing collaboration through embracing each musician’s individual strengths, Camerata creates pure magic in their sound.  

Zurad also expressed her appreciation to Camerata’s mentors RSC cello faculty Susanne Friedrich and Nickolette Cartales, their viola coach, and said, “All three of us enjoy working with the exceptionally talented and dedicated musicians in Camerata Strings. I think this is the only ensemble in the Boston area which provides a unique string orchestra experience on such a high level.” 

“Camerata strikes a wonderful balance of making its musicians feel close, welcomed, and personally cared for while also pursuing exciting and intricate music,” says violist and composer James Hutchinson, whose original composition Awakening was performed by Camerata Strings at their May 2023 concert as an orchestral arrangement. Performing a wide array of repertoire, including the unique opportunity of performing a piece by a fellow musician, allows the ensemble to connect their audience to music they may have never heard of before. It is especially gratifying for composers like Hutchinson, who says “Our concert last spring made me appreciate my own music at a deeper level, and rediscover the process by which I constructed my quintet.”

For their upcoming concert on Thursday, December 14, Camerata Strings has been preparing a program that includes works by Antonio Vivaldi, J.S. Bach, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and Nino Rota. Zurad selects their repertoire from a variety of time periods, this time Baroque, Romantic, and Contemporary, and says their goal is “to understand and present these pieces with excellence, artistic integrity, and creative youthful energy!” As their concert is quickly approaching, violinist Julie Meng says “I particularly look forward to performing Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ and ‘Concerto Per Archi, I. Preludio’ by Nino Rota that teleports you to winter, capturing its often intense (at least in New England) yet ethereal nature perfectly.”

With the combination of the group’s enthusiasm and repertoire that explores rich harmonic landscapes and themes of winter, their December concert will be sure to have the audience lean forward in captivation.


The upcoming Camerata Strings Concert will take place on Thursday, December 14, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. in Bradley Hall, Rivera Recital Hall. The concert is free to attend, but seating is limited.