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5 Questions with the Daedalus Quartet

WANT TO GO?The Daedalus QuartetPresented by Charleston Chamber Music SocietyWHERE: Christ Church United Methodist, 1221 Quarrier St.WHEN: 7 p.m. SaturdayTICKETS: $20INFO: 304-344-5389 or www.charlestonchambermusic.orgCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On Saturday, chamber music fans will get a treat when the acclaimed Daedalus Quartet returns to Charleston with a concert at Christ Church United Methodist Church. The program features a mix of older and newer pieces, including works by Mozart, Mendelssohn and American composer George Perle. The Gazz spoke with violist Jessica Thompson about how the quartet came together and why there's room in classical music for new compositions.Q: How was the Daedalus Quartet formed?A: "We got started in 2000, so we've been together for 13 years now. But we all knew each other from other places, from different schools and music festivals. Once you sort of get into the world of people who want to play chamber music seriously, kind of everybody knows everybody. It's a pretty small community."But we've had some member changes along the way. We have two new members since we were last in Charleston five or six years ago."
Q: With other types of bands, there can be sometimes be little tensions brought on by differing tastes. Does the Daedalus Quartet ever have any trouble with that?A: "Part of the reason we're doing this is we all want to play in a string quartet, and there's just an incredible wealth of music written for this combination. Some of the greatest composers have written some of their best music for string quartet."Certain of us may have inclinations one way or another, but our musical top 10 lists wouldn't look all that different."Q: Along with recognizable classical pieces, you also do some work by modern composers. How do you find them, or do they find you?
A: "In the case of the piece we'll be playing this weekend by George Perle, who died in 2009, our record company, Bridge Records, had a relationship with him and approached us about recording several of his quartets. The disc will come out some time this year."It's also music we love, and we feel like it's a vital part of keeping the medium alive to play the works of people writing today, so we have relationships with several composers and have had several pieces written for us in quite a variety of styles."Q: Is there much resistance from the classical music audience to perform contemporary work?A: "Sure, but I think a lot of that perceived resistance to contemporary music is a lack of familiarity with the musical language. With music written a hundred years ago, people are familiar with it or at least know what to expect. With something written last year, maybe so and maybe not. And of course, not everything is to everyone's taste, which is fair, but we do like mixing it up."Q: Suppose someone is curious about classical music and has never been to a chamber music performance. How should they come to a concert?A:"Come with open ears and an open mind. For someone who hasn't heard a lot of chamber music or string quartets, maybe one way in is to notice the way we're interacting with each other. We're sort of having a conversation up there, and we love it when the audience feels involved, like they're part of that conversation."
Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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