Welcome to the official blog of the Highstrung String Quartet!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Step one: Selecting music

This step takes a lot of time and thinking which is why for our quartet I'm the one in charge of the process. This is for two reasons. First, I'm the only one not “in” school right now so I'm technically the one with more time to do it. So in my free time when I'm not practicing, teaching, doing math, studying history, learning music theory, prepping for apologetics class, or subbing for the Vancouver Symphony, I work on keeping the quartet moving along this road of preparation. The second reason is, of course, because this step requires thinking and as the cellist I'm the only one of the quartet capable of handling that task.

So how does it work? First I compiled a list of suggestions from anyone and everyone. Mainly the suggestions were from David and myself but I didlisten and write down the one suggestion from my violinists. After I had this preliminary list I began to listen to recordings. For about three weeks I listened to recordings and studied scores so that I was familiar with all the ideas. During these weeks I must have listened to all of Beethoven's Op. 18 quartets a hundred times not to mention all of Haydn's Op. 74, 75 & 76 as well as a bazillion other quartets. Don't get me wrong, I loved every minute of this part! I had so much fun getting to know the different quartets and their characters! As the weeks went by, I began to narrow down the list to what I considered to be the best for our quartet. I had it down to the eight finalists and I was ready for the final push.

This final push is called programing. This is tricky and I have come to realize how hard this part of the process is over the last year. Programing involves figuring out the answers to these questions: What pieces would work best together? Are we good enough to play this? What order should they be preformed? Will I have to pay my second violinist more because he might have to practice? How long will this concert be? Is the first half to long? Will my violist fall asleep during this performance? Is the second half to long? Will my first violinist be dead by the end of the first half? All of these questions must be considered before deciding which of the eight pieces will be played on our concert. As you can imagine I needed some time to think and a place where people would leave me alone long enough to find the answers so I packed up my gear. When I had a break in my teaching schedule, I went to the local Burgerville. (what can I say......the Mocha Perk gives me inspiration!)

I sat down with our scores and recordings and went to work. It took about two hours of listening and watching to come up with the “perfect” program for us. So here it is......The next concert by the Highstrung String Quartet will feature (assuming we all live through the rest of the process):

Haydn Op. 74 No. 3 (unfortunately nicknamed the “Rider”)

Borodin quartet No. 2 (absolutely gorgeous!)

Intermission (no this is not a piece....it is a break in the programing for you to use the facilities)

David Martin's String Quartet (This will be a premiere! We have read through this piece and Mr. Martin has graciously allowed us the privilege of being the first string quartet to ever preform his composition! Thank you so much David Martin!)

Beethoven Op. 18 No. 4 (this quartet rocks my socks.)

(Some people claim that this great program is the result of caffeine haze brought on by a Mocha Perk......)

There you have it! Step one is done! If you have any questions send me an e-mail.

Joshua “The Brain” Knopp for all of the Highstrung String Quartet

Monday, September 8, 2008

Let the fun begin!

Have you ever been sitting there listening to a fantastic concert and asked yourself, "How do they do this? What does it take to prepare for a concert like this?" If you have ever thought that then you will want to bookmark this blog. "What it takes" will give you the chance to follow us as we prepare for our next concert. It is no easy road to trek for the quartet and we invite you to join us! Along the way, if you have questions, please send me an e-mail at cellistforlife@gmail.com and I will post your questions and our answers.

Let the fun begin! - Joshua Knopp for the Highstrung String Quartet