Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue!

Although we don't do weddings, Serafin String Quartet does relate to the phrase "something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue!!"

As a string quartet, we have the privilege of access to a vast archive of time-honored masterpieces which we revere, and audiences relish. OLD masterworks, such as those by Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, are featured in our 2015-2016 season repertoire. Such works of art make up the centerpiece of our programming every season. We love to delve into works by these great works, and masters from Haydn, forward.  Also this season, we look forward sharing works by Schumann, Borodin, Bartok, Grieg, Shostakovich, and many others.

At the same time, we take great satisfaction in learning NEW works, including works that have recently been written and have never, or rarely, been performed. String quartets (ranging from 4 to 9 minutes each) written by the 27 year-old rising star, Julia Adolphe, will be an exciting part of our repertoire this season. We look forward to the honor of giving the New York premieres of two of Adolphe's works when we perform at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall on March 14, 2016.

Borrowing is a less frequent experience for quartet players, simply because the original quartet repertoire is so extensive and so marvelous. But we do occasionally play a work that we BORROW and that has been arranged or transcribed for quartet, such as the delightful little Spiccato Caprice by Arthur Foote (one of America's earliest classical composers) which we performed at the Highlands Festival this summer. Or, sometimes a composer borrows a familiar melody or theme and utilizes it to create an original work, such as Jennifer Higdon's setting of Amazing Grace for string quartet, which is also borrowed in the sense that she re-wrote it for quartet after originally setting it for SATB choir.

Playing something BLUE is more of a reach for quartet (we don't often delve into the blues genre). But, in our case, Serafin Quartet has enjoyed the wonderful opportunity to perform and do the premier recording of Higdon's Sky Quartet, the elegiac slow movement of which is titled Blue Sky. For those not familiar with Higdon's thematic and stylistic vernacular, Blue is an important theme for her, including her pivotal orchestral work Blue cathedral which is one of the most performed contemporary orchestral works, having been performed over 500 times.

As we traverse the wide and wonderful string quartet landscape this coming season, we hope to share with our audiences the long and continuing legacy of interesting and excellent works at our fingertips! 

-Kate Ransom, violinist, Serafin String Quartet