Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Recent Reviews

We've had our share of critical attention over the years... but never like this.  Check out some recent words from our new buddies at Mt. Penn Elementary's fourth grade class:

from tough critics:
"Thank you for coming to our school and playing for us.  We all (even Tyler) enjoyed your music" -Anna

and technical mastery:
"I really liked your music, and instruments, and your form" - Draven

to the generic:
"Thank you for the good music and about the violins and stuff" - Walter

from incredible music-inspired stories:
"Thank you, thank you, thank you I really love your music. The story I would like to share is a girl running in a mansion and falls into a weird world and she has to get out of there before taco night.  She felt she was gone for months but technically only 5 mins in the real world.  She finally finds a sign that says EXIT. She's finally home in time for taco night even though she was only gone for 10 mins isn't that funny. I really like this idea for a story and it's very creative" - Maria

"Thank you for coming. My story is a man who gets chased by wolves into a cave he found some gold and bought a horse and put the gold in the saddle pocket and got married wolves came back and he died" - Jai

and career advice:
"I think your quartet could go to the Olympics and play for them" - Owen

to mysterious words about Alan:
"I like the stuff you played. I like the guy who plays the Alan" - Anonymous

and perhaps our most accurate quartet depiction to date. New publicity material?:

This is the reason we love doing outreach. What an amazing excuse to hang out with creative, hilarious kids and talk about why music is awesome.  Thank you to our new friends at Mt. Penn Elementary!

I was not kidding...

...terrifyingly enormous. The Monster Quartet visits Dalian, People's Republic of China.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jetlagged and happy

Hello blogging world! It's wonderful to see you again. We have just spent the past couple weeks gallavanting about China, where the "bandwidths" of many google-supported sites are "throttled", or so Nick tells me. I know nothing of these things, but I am certainly appreciating not having to load everything in basic html, for hours at a time. But there are so many incredible things about China and our experiences there that we will never forget!

First things first - food.

Our wonderful, patient, and hilarious tour managers from Wu Promotion as well as from various local agencies made sure that we always had at least 15 plates, per meal. Tiny tables were literally stacked with dishes.  And the managers liked to make fun of us for not finishing everything!!!

A particularly memorable meal - lunch on our last day of tour! Beijing-style hotpot, with lamb and STOMACH and these incredible lamb-skewer-things with a kind of dry rub that would've made Texas proud. And Peking duck omgggg

We played lots of concerts too, in awesome halls -
Our first show, at Shanghai Oriental Arts Center. Do you like our outfits? They are quite new. All our checked bags got lost because of a close connection (and I mean CLOSE, I've never run so fast through an airport terminal in my life, with a string of Chinese attendants cheering me on/yelling to go faster) so we spent the morning of our first day in China shopping! <3 I was quite pleased, and so were the boys...
And this was the festival at which we were asked the question we have been waiting for, for so many years: Do we want fog machines. To be honest, this is more of a dream for the boys than for me, but I understand the gravity of the situation. To everyone's immense disappointment, the smoke didn't work out, but do not worry, the light show did. We had no idea we would be performing during the Autumn Moon Festival, but it was really an experience to remember!

Then there was this enormous backdrop-
And believe it or not, an even bigger poster of our faces in Dalian, which was terrifying. Pics of that to come, I believe they're all on Nick's camera

Ahh there are so many pictures I want to post on this thing. But another little detail - the Aeolus Quartet now lives in the Washington DC area, as we have just begun a doctoral quartet residency at the University of Maryland! I have found that a great antidote to jetlag is unpacking all the boxes in my apartment. So as I get back to that important task, I will leave you with this photo of our tour bus -
just kidding. But we did have a lot of fun riding around in these things :)

Friday, June 24, 2011


How is it that all music festivals seem to take place in the most stunning locations? Well, maybe not all... I guess we've put in our time in Topeka, etc. Not that we didn't love you, Topeka - we DID! You were just a little flat. But check out where we are right now -
BANFF!!! Or to be more precise, that is Lake Louise as seen from the Trail of Six Glaciers. And here I am posing in front of an avalanche, no big deal -

oops I couldn't fit the e in at the end of "avalanche," but you know what I mean. The above photo is the work of none other than one Alan Richardson, wilderness photographer extraordinaire/ cellist in this quartet. Actually he was just taking a picture of me and some snow, but his timing is impeccable! Avalanches were falling everywhere, I guess that's what we get for hiking in summer when ice is melting off the glaciers - Banff seems to have a very different idea of summer from what we're used to down in Texas...

Aside from the extraordinary mountains, the elk stalking the practice huts, our hotel-like accommodations in an entirely creativity-oriented environment, the gourmet food, and great company til the wee hours of the morning, it is truly the mix of musicians here at the Banff Centre that are making this experience one we will never forget. Please refer back to my post gushing about the Brentano Quartet, and kindly look at the picture of Mark Steinberg - we get to work with him!!! every day!!!! And so many other incredible mentors too. We still have one more week here, and we're looking forward to getting into some Beethoven Op. 132 as well as performing the Brahms B flat sextet with Denis Brott and David Samuel! I never want to leave. More soon!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A little DC, a little Boston, some Vermont, and Plowman :D

New music is the best. I'm not only referring to our "fierce championing" and "ferocious advocacy" of contemporary works, which incidentally seem to be obligatory lines in all chamber ensemble bios, but also to how incredibly refreshing it is to play new stuff! Even if the new stuff is actually Haydn, written over 200 years ago. We've been on the road with the same few pieces for a couple months now, and we are so fortunate to have three awesome new works to play (in addition to Haydn!) written by three awesome friends of ours. Two of the pieces are so new, the composers (Steve Snowden and Lexi Bryant) are still changing notes in the score each time they listen to us. The third piece, entitled "Black Bend," was written by Dan Visconti and was chosen by us as the winner of Fast Forward Austin's Call for Scores. He has had some sick ensembles play his music, and now we know why. To check out more about the fabulous new music festival (FFA) that went down last weekend, head over to the Aeolus Facebook page, where Alan has posted some links for your viewing pleasure :)

But what you're really here for is pictures. Or maybe movies? But I have to figure out how to upload those first.. We've been everywhere, and we have lots to tell you! Here are the places/events which I remembered to photograph:

This is in DC. And that is Alan's suitcase, covered in a generous layer of Herbal Essences Hello Hydration shampoo. I know that is what it's called, because I use it too. And no the bottle was not mine. A fine way to kick off our DC trip, which also included a great concert on the Concordia Chamber Music Society series, but of course I didn't take any pictures of that.

Nick enjoying an entire lobster with the fabulously amazing Nancy in Boston, at Legal Seafood. Such an incredibly warm person, and a true music lover. Oh yes, we also performed a concert in Boston with the equally warm and amazing Victor Rosenbaum presiding over the piano for the Brahms F minor Quintet. Certainly don't have any pictures of that.

And then we drove up to Vermont, where there was still a foot of snow on the ground (glad I only packed sandals) and we were to stay in THE most gorgeous bed and breakfast - the Fan House.

Sara, the lovely owner of the Fan House, actually made us breakfast on this stove. Alan tries out some commonplace kitchen implements.

The Barnard General Store. Incredible. Also the only actual business for miles around.

And then there was the Plowman Chamber Music Competition. We were so honored and so humbled to have been chosen for the Grand Prize, a title shared with the wonderful Akropolis Reed Quintet! We are still on cloud 9 from the whole event. And still recovering from the 14 hour car ride each way.
Celebratory shots of Patron -
Apparently our hotel had a deal with TGIFridays? We drank for free. No better way to celebrate a competition win :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It has been too long...

and we miss you. Please don't take our silence personally - it's not you, it's us. We have been BUSIER than ever rehearsing, performing, plotting our future and eating airport food, and somehow our poor blog has suffered gross neglect. This humble little journal even received a shout out in a review by Luke Quinton in the Austin American Statesman, so it's about time to live up to those "nicely-curated" standards.

First things first. Our CD is out!!!!!!! Released on Longhorn Records and distributed by Naxos, this project has been a labor of love, and we are so thankful to everyone at the university and in the studio who helped make it possible. This CD would not exist without the support of Dr. Glenn Chandler or the assistance of Kathryn Hutchison. And the album art by Nathan Russell is awesome! Please go to Amazon.com and admire it.

We are also excited to announce that we will be serving as the Quartet in Residence for the 2011 Austin Chamber Music Center Workshop! This is a very special opportunity, because the four of us trace our love of chamber music and some of our fondest childhood memories back to summer chamber music camps just like this one. The chance to be mentors and role models in such a comprehensive program as the one designed by the Austin Chamber Music Center is truly an honor. We will be performing several concerts over the course of the festival, which will be added to the 'schedule' page on our website, including a program to be shared with the beloved Tokyo Quartet! Check back for more on that in the next few weeks.

Speaking of honors... we recently met and played a concert with clarinetist Håkan Rosengren in a fundraising event for his Fayetteville Chamber Music Festival. An absolutely wonderful musician and person - definitely check him out. We performed in a beautiful turn-of-the-century home in rural Fayetteville, TX for a lively and supportive audience. This event was unique also in that it marked our first performance in conjunction with the auctioning of a live longhorn calf, among many other desirable items. We have officially achieved Texan status as a quartet :)

More soon! I promise. Thanks for reading!