Welcome to the official blog of the Highstrung String Quartet!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

3 down!


Just a quick update: We've just finished a whirl-wind set of performances. We're staying at our grandparents house. They hosted a living room concert for a very cordial group of our friends and family. We also played a concert set at Bellewood. The residence there were welcoming and encouraging (It's always a joy to play for those who really love to listen). Tonight, we played our first full concert in Hobart (about an hour and a half of music). Everyone there seemed to enjoy the program a lot. Tomorrow, we leave for one more concert in Silverdale. Photos and video are coming soon. Stay tuned!

-David of the quartet

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Living Room Concert........

[NOTE: As a way to prepare for our concerts, we host preview concerts in our living room for our friends and family. That intimate setting is one of my favorite ways to perform chamber music. Below is Justin's account of our first livingroom concert. It should be mentioned that the views expressed below are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this violists nor the other members of quartet. -David]

There I sat on my bench poised to begin. I looked at Eric. His eyes locked into mine. He gave the motion to begin and we set off on Beethoven's Op. 18 No. 4 First movement. It sounded pretty bad too. I found myself near the end of the first page and then from the corner of my eye saw that our guests had arrived. Thankful this was only a warm-up and not the performance, we stopped, stood up, stretched, and said hello to our wonderful (and brave) friends, the David Cools family and a couple of the Winslow girls.

After talking for about 10-15 minutes we decided to begin the evenings festivities. We opened with two simple Christmas songs and then moved into a more exciting number from our Christmas pops album. We all thought it would be nice to talk in between songs just because it is more friendly, and because Eric always needs a break. So David slouched, turned in his chair in order to see the audience and started sharing something about how simple songs are hard and hard songs are easy or something like that while the rest of us got out the next piece of music. When David finished rambling we could get on to the David Martin String Quartet. The guys decided to do all three movements and so I was ready for a nice stretch of beauiful music. (I love this string quartet immensely). After Josh demolished the intro and Eric butchered a couple of parts in the middle, (including skipping an entire measure), we painfully came to the end of the first movement. For the second movement we were out to kill. The composer's work that is, not the audience. Eric and I began our unison part out of tune, then David joined, also out of tune. [Editors note: please see the above disclaimer] The third movement went well and ended with the approving applause of our audience. Yes, surprisingly they did like it.This says more about the composer than the musicians. Our audience felt honored to be the first to hear this wonderful piece of music and it was great fun for us to see that they liked it too.

Eric then led us down the path of Haydn's Op. 74 No. 3 (4th and 2nd movements). These movements went relatively smoothly. Each of us making small mistakes here and there but it seemed musical and over all passable. They all clapped and we laughed about how tiring Haydn's adagios movements can be. Which is true. Especially for the two who fell asleep.

When planning this concert we wanted to do the First Noel arrangement that we've never quite mastered. My part looks like those ridiculous parts labled “Violin 1” on the upper left corner of the music. And when it came down to the time we were supposed to play it, the others thought better of embarrassing ourselves more than we already had and skipped it.

With this we moved into the Beethoven movement 1. The one we never got all the way through the entire day of rehearals. (Or on any previous day, for that matter.) But we took the bull by the horns and plowed through. Actually, it wasn't all that bad considering the limited practice we have had with it. I enjoyed seeing the audience jump when we began this vivacious piece of and they seemed to be connected with us to all the way through. With this our little night together ended.

All in all these living concerts are the most fun in my opinion. Not only because I am with friends, but also because I think we all prefer the intimacy of the living room over a big performance space. We enjoy the warmth of the Christmas tree, and great friends comforabably seated on couches and chairs and even the floor and to get to share the music we have worked so hard to learn with those who are eager to share it with us. It is very comfortable and enjoyable. Not only that but Eric can have his breaks........

- The second violinist

Friday, December 19, 2008

Concert with the Whispering Roses RESCHEDULED

After much deliberation and dozen or so phone calls, we have decided to cancel the concert for tomorrow afternoon due to the pending ice storm. This performance is tentatively rescheduled for January 2nd, 2009 at 1pm. We’ll confirm that date and time as soon as we can. Thank you all so much for your patience and we hope to see you all in January.

David for the Quartet

Monday, December 15, 2008

David Martin Concert Postponed

Just a quick update: the David Martin "A Winter Concert" has been postponed until further notice. We're really disappointed, but grateful to have the extra rehearsal time :-). When a new time and date has been decided, we'll let you all know. Thank you for your support!

Eric, for the Quartet

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Concert Reminder

Just a quick reminder: on Tuesday, December 16th at 7p.m. is the premier of David Martin's first string quartet. We will also be preforming "Love" a song for two sopranos, one of which will be our sister Michelle. The text for this song comes from 1 Corinthians 13. This will be a really great concert of David Martin's music that we're sure you'll enjoy. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Highstrung in Print (II)

Eric was handed a clipping from The Dalles Chronicle. There we are on page A2:

The article is about the Columbia Gorge Sinfonietta. We played with them over the weekend and had a great time. Ruth Hall and Music Director Mark Steighner have always been encouraging and accommodating. This concert, Highstrung was featured as guest artists. We played the fourth and second movements of the Haydn as well as an arrangement of “O Come, O Come Emanuel” and a jazz rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Every audience loves the jazz tunes. It was great to hear their response.

Performance Tip #15

Never drink a Venti anything right before the concert.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Meet the Coaches

The quartet is working with two coaches for this concert set: David Martin and Cindy Petty

Composer David Martin whose quartet we will premiere on the 16th. One of the joys of working with David is that he knows exactly what he wants to hear and he’s able to communicate those ideas. This is essential when playing new music. At first, we were having a hard time learning his piece, not because it was incredibly difficult, but because we’d never played anything by Martin! If you hand us a Haydn, Beethoven, or Shostakovich we would instinctively understand the style. Not so much with Martin. We didn't know his style until after our coaching with him. His music is a great blend of Bach's mathematical style and Prokofiev's lyricism (if you can get your head around that idea). We’re really looking forward to the performance.

Cindy Petty is our music mom. Cindy is the person who got Highstrung started about 8 years ago and for that we are so grateful! We are working with her on the Haydn, Borodin, and Beethoven. She is a fantastic coach who gives us quite a workout. I remember back when we first started to work with Cindy, our coachings were at the ungodly hour of 6a.m. She would work with us until around 7:45 then we would go home completely spent from our exertions. That same night we would work with Cindy at youth orchestra from 6-9 p.m. and she would have the same amount of energy and passion that she had had that morning! She’s amazing. Beyond that, she is also a remarkable chamber music coach. Her knowledge and experience helps us portray the character of the music and not merely play the notes (although she's pretty good at making us learn the notes too. =)

Here is about a minute of video caught from our “Coach's Cam” during a few of our sessions.

I know a lot of you are upset right now because you didn't hear us really play anything or you didn't feel it was long enough! Well, I feel terrible about that! Sorry! I guess you'll just have to come to a concert.

- The Cellist

Friday, December 5, 2008

Highstrung in Print

Cindy Petty came over for our Friday coaching (more on this later) and brought a copy of the Newport News-Times Community Section . Our ugly mugs were featured on page B1 from
when we played for the Aquarium’s fundraiser event

But what struck me was the photo. I look like violist-extraordinaire Michael Tree It’s kind of creepy.

Now, if only I could play like Michael Tree.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Poster Update

Yesterday, Josh called me from the printer's saying the time on the posters was wrong. "It's suppose to be 3:00pm not 7:00pm." Oops. My bad. So below is a link to updated posters.

Click here to visit our "Performances" page