Stringed Together

The four musicians of Resonanz String Quartet are excited about their maiden performance in the city

Carol George was tense. One of India’s best Western violinists Carol who has performed before huge audiences and with elite musicians understands that this is not going to be just another show. Being part of a string quartet, for the first time, is going to be for Carol a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Something he always dreamed of.

Carol along with another talented Indian violinist Anna Amy Philips and two young, brilliant German musicians Daniel Hoffman (cello) and Anna-Lena Zennar (viola) are set to perform in Kochi this weekend and on October 14 in Thiruvananthapuram. This will probably be the first time ever that a string quartet performs in the State.

Little wonder that Carol appeared tense during the rehearsals. Being part of a quartet is certainly something any musician would give his life for but it certainly carried its weight.

A string quartet has its own tradition and history. It is heavily structured with hardly any scope for improvisation. And when four musicians from diverse cultural and musical backgrounds coming together there are chances of conflict.

“This is bound to happen in the beginning. The individual cultural and musical influence tend to creep in. But we find a way to bring them together. They are blended to create a harmony. It’s not conflict actually rather different streams of music trying to come together,” explains Anna-Lena, with the others nodding in agreement.

Getting in the Indian musical influence is what the quartet attempt to present in their shows. “Since this is going to be the first time a quartet is going to perform in the State we have decided that the performance be a sort of prelude, an introduction. Giving the audience taste of this music and getting them interested in it is our aim. So we have incorporated Indian, more specifically Bollywood tunes too,” says Amy, musicologist and leader of this project.

The quartet, called Resonanz String Quartet, has an eclectic repertoire lined up for the shows that range from Joseph Haydn’s trio for strings, Mozart’s violin-viola duet, Bach Suite for cello solo, Passacaglia for violin and cello, two waltzes by Antonin Dvorak to tango from Scent of a Woman and the peppy Bollywood tunes.

Apart from the concerts the musicians conducted workshops for children. “Oh, yes, it was wonderful. There’s so much talent down here. They seemed to pick up what we were trying to tell them so quickly,” says Daniel.

“This is, hopefully, just a beginning of a long project. I want to start from the roots. Children need to be initiated into Western classical music. They need the support of their parents too. My dream is to have our own symphony orchestra of young musicians in say ten years from now. Anywhere in the world, especially in Europe, children begin learning music very early. Daniel and Anna-Lena started off when they must have been six or eight,” elaborates Amy.

Daniel, who is now contracted with the prestigious Concert House, Berlin, began learning music when he was six and in two years was on stage as a soloist. He made his concert debut playing Vivaldi’s C major cello concerto with the Hof Symphony Orchestra. Anna, who will be doing her Master Studies in Orchestral Music shortly has in this short time been leader of the viola section in orchestras as well as playing for many high-profile orchestras.

Both of them were inspired by their parents to take up music as a career. If for Anna her Dad was trying to live his dream through his daughter, Daniel’s Dad was a director of a music school and also had two music groups “He had a jazz and concert group. The music school was second home. Then we had a cello at home, which made things easy for me. Moreover, I was fortunate to listen to concerts even before I decided on a career,” says Daniel.

The musicians had interesting views on the various aspects that constitute a good performance and the approach to performing on stage. “If the audience is silent, listening to you there’s a connect...” says Daniel. Anna feels that it is on stage that all the hard work is reflected. “It’s also important on how you feel on stage,” she adds. Amy thinks that there is difference when you are part of an ensemble. “There is need to communicate with the others. You must be able to do it with your body, with just a glance. Then there is the quality of sound, the quality of the musical instrument...all this matters,” says Amy.

Daniel plays with a cello that is more than 300 years old, made by by Francesco Ruggeri (1680), while Anna has a viola that dates back to the 1700s. “I have not carried my precious cello for this tour. It would have been too risky to do that. But I have a equally good one with me,” says Daniel, while Anna-Lena will play with the her antique viola.

It’s usual to hear comments like that the musician and his instrument turned one during a performance. There’s a mystical relationship between the musician’s body and the wood and strings. “It’s a very close relationship; like being part of my body. It responds to my moods. When I’m sad my viola seems to cry and when I’m happy it simply reverberates in joy,” says Anna-Lena.

Daniel calls his cello ‘Mrs.’ and even had a seat reserved for his missus in the flight. “That’s the relationship between us...’” he says with a laugh. For Amy her violin is like home, something as secure as that. “I know that whatever happens in my life I can bank on my violin.” And Carol simple nods and says, “All that they have said. I love it. It feels close to me.”

The four musicians readied for another of their long rehearsals. The cello, viola and violins were tuned, even as Carol and Anna-Lena went through a duet. Even as we leave the strains of the violin and viola could be heard for a while. A tmall to present a slice of their music that promises to entrance, fascinate and take you on a flight of musical fancy.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 11:45:54 PM |

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