Brooklyn Rider: Stretching Boundaries

Brooklyn Rider
Metro Weekly

It’s unusual enough that Glenn Kotche would write an instrumental composition for Brooklyn Rider. That he titled it “Ping Pong Fumble Thaw” is stranger still.

“We asked many composers, mostly outside of what we think of as the classical music world to write short pieces in which they reference an artistic inspiration of their choice,” the string quartet’s Colin Jacobsen explains.

Kotche, drummer of alt-rock band Wilco, wasn’t inspired by table tennis. He chose Germany’s minimal electronic musician Jens Massel, drawing names from Massel’s record titles that also work to describe the sounds you’re hearing. And yes, you essentially hear the sound of a ping-pong bouncing back and forth throughout.

Jacobsen, one of the group’s violinists as well as in-house composer, expects the quartet will play the amusing Kotche composition this weekend when it returns to Sixth & I as part of a 10th anniversary concert presented by Washington Performing Arts. The evening will also feature other compositions from the Brooklyn Rider Almanac, including the world premiere of a piece by Tyondai Braxton that didn’t make the recording released last year..

The Brooklyn Rider Almanac is similarly set to grow to include more than just music. For example, several choreographers will premiere works set to compositions in the collection, performed live by the quartet, at Colorado’s Vail International Dance Festival this summer.

Obviously, Brooklyn Rider is not your father’s string quartet — even if your father was a classical musician as Jacobsen’s was. His mother was too, and his younger brother, Eric, is the quartet’s cellist. (“It’s kind of all in the family.”) The quartet has succeeded in part because of the “great chemistry” among all four original members, but also because of mutual involvement in other endeavors working to expand the boundaries of classical music, and music in general, including Yo-Yo Ma’s high-profile collective.


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