Chamber music enthusiasts probably wouldnt look twice at Rose, a trendy bar catering to the twentysomething crowd in Williamsburg. But most chamber music ensembles dont play 80s dance hits. Instead of featuring Haydn and Shostakovich, the Chiara String Quartet draws inspiration from Soundgarden and Stevie Wonder, playing an eclectic blend of pop, contemporary, and classical music. They will be performing their unusual repertoire at Rose on January 9. The ensemble strives to make classical music accessible by reaching beyond concert hall audiences to bars and nightclubs. The more informal settings in unconventional venues allow the performers more musical freedom. One of the great things about playing in these clubs is that the repertoire is not set a year in advance, says violinist Julie Yoon. We can come in a month before or even on the day, if we have a set of different kinds of songs or a movement, we can play that, depending on what the audience is like or what the mood is like. Yoon lived with her grandparents in Maspeth, Queens in order to attend weekend classes at the New Schools Mannes College of Music. During high school I decided that I really wanted to do music, I wanted to do that for my life, she explains. So I decided I would find better opportunities in New York for that. She studied audience engagement at the Juilliard School with the rest of the ensemble: cellist Gregory Beaver, violist Jonah Sirota and violinist Rebecca Fischer. Together they adopted an unusual approach to classical music. Much like folk musicians, Chiara improvise their set lists in order to connect with their audiences. Chiara formed a relationship with Brooklyn Friends of Chamber Music by performing in private homes in Brooklyn.Weve played a lot of house concerts as well, playing in private homes of people with very few people in a small space, says Yoon. The energy is very immediate, you can really sense peoples energy, adds Sirota. We feed on the audience and they get really excited because theyre so close to whats going on.The concerts led to performances in other small venues, such as clubs and bars, as a way to take the intimate atmosphere of private house concerts to the public. Then the venues became larger.The quartet performed at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church as part of the Brooklyn Friends of Chamber Musics 2003-04 season, when they were training at the Juilliard School. This led to a commission by Brooklyn Friends of Chamber Music to play a new work by Queens-based composer Jefferson Friedman at Lincoln Centers Alice Tully Hall in April 2005. For their upcoming Brooklyn performance, according to Sirota, they expect to play songs from, as well as some more traditional classical string pieces adapted to fit the ensembles unique style. Yet the highlight for Chiaras club audiences may well be their performance of a Prince song, adapted for strings. By expanding their repertoire beyond the traditional Hadyn and Shostakovich one would expect to hear from a string quartet and performing in clubs and bars, Chiaras performances encourage people to come to the club and have a beer and listen to classical music, Yoon says. The ensemble will preview some pieces from their upcoming performance of Mestizaje: Harmony of Differences, featuring works from composers who compose music from two different cultures, at Merkin Concert Hall on January 11. They will also play excerpts of their newly released third CD, of Chilean classical music, Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout, composed by Gabriela Lena Frank. Chiara String Quartet will perform at 9 p.m. on January 9 at Rose, 45 Grand Street in Brooklyn; call 718-599-0069 or visit www.liveatrose.com. Admission is $5.
©2007 Community News Group
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