Friday & Saturday, March 1-2 — As far as string quartets go, Calder Quartet is as close as it gets to rock-star status. Its members — violinists Benjamin Jacobson and Andrew Bulbrook, violist Jonathan Moerschel and cellist Eric Byers — have performed and recorded with such New York City heavyweights as party-rocker Andrew W.K. and rock band Vampire Weekend.
As far as string quartets go, Calder Quartet is as close as it gets to rock-star status. Its members — violinists Benjamin Jacobson and Andrew Bulbrook, violist Jonathan Moerschel and cellist Eric Byers — have performed and recorded with such New York City heavyweights as party-rocker Andrew W.K. and rock band Vampire Weekend.
At the same time, the Juilliard-trained quartet is favored by contemporary, classical composers such as Christopher Rouse, Terry Riley and Thomas Adès. The group commissions and records works by emerging composers, as well, and collaborates with artists across musical genres.
Calder's distinctive approach is an example of the musical curiosity that it brings to everything it performs — whether it's Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn or rock concerts with such bands as The National or The Airborne Toxic Event.
The group will perform Stravinsky's Three Pieces for String Quartet; "The Four Quarters" by Adès; and Beethoven's Quartet in E minor, Op. 59, No. 2. at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 1, in the Music Recital Hall on the Southern Oregon University campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.
A show at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 2, will showcase "Amazing Grace," Ben Johnston's Quartet No. 4: "Cadenza on the Night Plain" by Riley; and Beethoven's Quartet in C sharp minor, Op. 131.
Tickets cost $30 or $35, $5 for students and Oregon Trail Card holders, and may be purchased at www.chambermusicconcerts.org or by calling 541-552-6154.
Calder's 2010-11 performance season featured shows at Carnegie Hall, Washington Performing Arts Society, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Cleveland Museum of Art with Iva Bittova, a residency at Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, the Melbourne Festival with Adès, as well as concerts at Stanford Lively Arts and Le Poisson Rouge in New York City with Grammy Award-winning pianist Gloria Cheng.
"The Calder's Beethoven was full of flaring drama, furrowed brows and quiet intensity. But, with the tightest of ensemble playing and well-judged balancing of instrumental voices, the piece retained its classical integrity and polished finish. Most striking, here, as in the other pieces, was the intense beauty of tone these musicians produced — which blossomed to full lusciousness in their surging, extroverted reading of the Ravel," wrote the Washington Post.
In addition to the Ashland concerts, Calder Quartet will present two educational, outreach programs. There will be a master string class at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, in the SOU music hall, and a performance and discussion session will be at 12:30 p.m. Friday, March 1, in the hall. The outreach programs are free.
— Laurie Heuston