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Hot String Quartet Brooklyn Rider Coming to FirstWorks

Brooklyn Rider
Go Local Prov

By Tracey Minkin

For some, the timelessness of a classical string quartet never goes out of style, but the four young musicians who make up Brooklyn Rider have put a decidedly modern spin on the ensemble.

And lucky for Rhode Islanders, Brooklyn Rider brings its consummate musicianship and genre-bending repertoire and performance style to Providence on October 1 & 2 with a first-ever appearance at FirstWorks Festival 2011.

Violinist Colin Jacobsen spoke with GoLocal's Tracey Minkin about what it's like to be a daring young string quartet member... in 2011.

You're marketed as a string quartet with rock and roll style... what's that mean, really?

I guess I would say that we have a diversity of appetites in music, that we really range the gamut from the rock world to people like Beethoven. I also think that we love playing live together, love playing in front of audience... it's a visceral experience for us.

The biggest comparison to a rock band is this new thing that we're doing for FirstWorks--we've created a piece together as a group, as a band. That's unusual for a string quartet. The name of the piece, "Seven Steps", is not only indicative of us taking steps in a new direction, it's also an homage to Beethoven's String Quartet Opus 131, which has seven movements.

For the four of us, we do a lot of other things, but the quartet is where we can explore what we love to the deepest and the fullest. Composers have explored the string quartet to their deepest as well, Beethoven for example, throughout the ages. There's something unique in what a quartet can do, and we're trying to expand the notion of what a quartet can do. 

What is the challenge about reaching a younger audience with classical repertoire?

Generally we have faith that if people are in the room with us that our love of what we do will win others over with that energy. In Providence we'll have the opportunity to interact with young audiences, and often that encounter means that a lot of those people end up at your concert. We also play both normal concert venues and pop venues. That broadens things as well. (Note: Brooklyn Rider will perform at the Granoff Center at Brown University, neither a traditional musical performance venue nor a pop venue).

Have you ever been to Providence? What are you expecting from local audiences?

We've been in Providence quite a bit! All of us are members of the Silk Road Ensemble, and we did residences there, at RISD.  When you look at the other cool things that are going in FirstWorks, an African musician, Laurie Anderson... it's the coolest stuff. I would hope that it means that they have a following that is as equally open-minded. That's our favorite audience to play for. They bring experience with them, and if they're open, then music can be that transcendent experience.