If you’re going to annual Saturday night, you’re in for an eclectic night of music.
First, Boston-based vocal group will sing all a cappella versions of classic R&B hits to versions of unlikely top 40 rock songs during cocktail hour. Then, as the sun sets and dinner is served white-gloved butler-style, the Bryant Park Quartet will take over with chamber music and classical versions of folk-style arrangements.
After that, the quartet will spend another two weeks on Shelter Island, hosting a chamber music seminar at the , a place a the musicians have worked at in the past and say they always look forward to the experience.
The quartet’s current lineup is Anna Elashvili and Ben Russell on violins, Nathan Schram on viola, and Tomoko Fujita on the cell. Over the past few years they have gained a reputation as an accomplished string quartet that puts on imaginative and spirited concerts. According to Russell, the quartet strives to highlight connections between established works and to explore contemporary works that inspire new paths of listening and appreciation for historical works.
Patch chatted with Russell and Schram this week about their unique approach to chamber music.
Patch: You guys are in your mid-20s and 30s – are you seeing classical music attracting a younger audience as well?
Schram: For a number of years I think the classical audience had been aging but it’s a quickly changing scene. We’re seeing a reversal especially in New York City, and we are giving a lot of effort to get the younger generation to come out to our concerts.
Patch: How are you doing that and what seems to be working?
Schram: We’re very interested in branching out from established chamber music and always dabbling in original song writing and arrangements. We’ve made it a point to incorporate that into every one of our concerts. And we’re playing different venues — in September we’ll be playing a music hall with a full-service bar in the back, and the stage will be amplified.
Russell: I’ve always had an interest in folk music — I’ve studied with people who do Klezmer, Irish, old Americana. It’s been exciting for me to explore more alternative styles with the quartet, and it’s amazing to watch audiences get just as excited to hear it. And now we’re starting to write our own music in more of a folk style. Our friend who is a tenor sang with us a while back — these things are something audiences are finding very appealing, and the younger people are coming out.
Patch: How has your experiences with the Perlman Music School been?
Russell: We’re naturally always excited to get back out to Shelter Island and to bring what we do to the school. A few years ago I got to play with Mr. Perlman himself. It’s a great opportunity.