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September 27, 2004
One night, two stellar string quartets at Schwartz
BY sally corbett
At a time when many classical musicians work to enliven public interest in the genre, the Turtle Island String Quartet (TISQ) and the Ying Quartet have set out on a collaborative national tour providing their audiences with an experience that could change the way they think about chamber music.
The two quartets, 2004 Emory Coca-Cola Artists in Residence, open the Flora Glenn Candler Concert Series in the Schwartz Center’s Emerson Concert Hall on Thursday, Sept. 30, with a free lecture-demonstration at 2:30 p.m. and a ticketed concert at 8 p.m.
These divergent ensembles are both award-winning quartets in their second decade, with extensive credentials as touring and recording artists. Each group has become highly regarded as music educators through outreach in settings from juvenile prisons to the White House, and through residencies with organizations including the Eastman School of Music, Harvard University and New York’s Symphony Space.
Both quartets are committed to making music central to everyday life and to introducing audiences to the best of chamber music, new and old. Their concert-includes Felix Mendelssohn’s Quartet in E-Flat Major, Op. 44, No. 3 and Darius Milhaud’s La Création Du Monde. Works written by TISQ members on the program are Mark Summer’s Julie-O (1988) and David Balakrishman’s Mara’s Garden Of False Delights (2002).
The program concludes with a friendly “battle of the bands,” chamber music-style. Audiences can cheer their favorite selections as the quartets perform Evan Price’s Variations on an Unoriginal Theme (2002). Price’s composition is a journey through chamber music genres and periods, from Haydn to Cuban mambo.
Siblings Timothy, Janet, Phillip and David Ying are natives of Chicago. They began their ensemble career in the early 1990s in Jessup, Iowa, winning the first National Endowment for the Arts grant in support of chamber music in a rural area. The talents of this internationally acclaimed ensemble are matched by their ultra-hip attitude illustrated by their edgy, cartoon website (www.ying4.com). Greeted by a monkey mascot, visitors to the site can listen to Ying recordings and browse a list of the Yings’ favorite Chinese restaurants.
TISQ (David Balakrishman, violin and baritone violin; Evan Price, violin; Mads Tolling, viola; and Mark Summer, cello) formed in 1985, borrowing their name from a myth shared by many cultures. The myth speaks of a “sky woman’s” fall to water, her rescue by turtles and the formation of a land, purported to be North America.
But TISQ’s success is anything but mythical. World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma called them “a unified voice that truly breaks new ground, authentic and passionate, a reflection of some of the most creative music-making today.” Among the quartet’s passions is the revival of centuries-old improvisational and compositional chamber traditions. TISQ has collaborated with famed clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, The Manhattan Transfer, dance ensembles, and orchestras.
General admission to the quartets’ show is $48; Emory faculty, staff, alumni and discount groups $36; Emory students $5. Discount subscriptions for Candler Concerts also are available. For tickets (reserved seating), call 404-727-5050 or visit www.arts.emory.edu or the Schwartz Center’s box office (open Monday–Friday,
10 a.m.–6 p.m.).