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Crossover for Curiosity Sake

By Barry Kempton

There was an interesting piece in the New York Times recently by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim entitled “Brooklyn Rider Joins String Quartets Exploring the Nonclassical”.

First of all, it’s nice to read about string quartet Brooklyn Rider in the national press a few weeks before they appear on our Schubert Club Mix series.  Not only does that help with ticket sales to some degree, but it also endorses our assertion that we are inviting artists and ensembles of importance and national significance to The Schubert Club.  Brooklyn Rider will be playing some of the music on their new album Almanac and will bring drummer Greg Saunier (of indie rock band Deerhoof) with them.  Sunday January 18th at Aria, Minneapolis, and yes there are still some tickets available. (Learn more here)

How nice too to read glowing enthusiasm in the same article for the Danish String Quartet, who played on our Music in the Park Series a couple of months ago.   Their new recording Wood Works features arrangements of Scandinavian folk music which they also included in the second half of their concert program.  Without a doubt, it is one of the CDs I have played the most in the last 2 months.

The point of the article is to celebrate the benefits of crossover done well.  Brooklyn Rider, the Danish String Quartet and so many other musicians and ensembles who belong to the so-called classical music world are exploring other musical genres and collaborating with musicians from those other genres.   The results are not only interesting and often masterful in themselves, but, as expressed by Johnny Gandelsman, violinist in Brooklyn Rider, the influences of playing non-classical music flow back into their classical music making.

Musicians will invariably grow up in a specialist music world, be it classical, jazz or folk music.  What I admire in musicians like Brooklyn Rider – or indeed Hilary Hahn who performed last season in the Mix series with German prepared-pianist Hauschka (pictured above) – is their appetite to keep on exploring new sound worlds, and to collaborate with musicians of other genres whose music and musicianship will have a direct impact on their music making. 

It seems that this kind of crossover (crossover for musical curiosity reasons rather than commercial ones) has become more common in recent years.  I hope it continues to grow – I think it can only be good for the future of all live music.