Four-time Grammy nominee Quartet San Francisco will be joined by Grammy-nominated acoustic guitarist Alex de Grassi in a concert featuring the East Coast premiere of Three Themes for Guitar and Strings on Saturday, January 9 at Symphony Space in New York.
The collaborative composition by de Grassi and the QSF string quartet leader Jeremy Cohen was commissioned by String Letter Publishing and first performed at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco in 2006. The 13-minute piece is comprised of three distinct movements that reflect the composers’ common interest in tango, blues, and Eastern European influenced rhythms. Quartet San Francisco will also be performing the music of Raymond Scott as well as other selections from their repertoire.
Winning praise for their eclectic programming and for leader Jeremy Cohen‘s innovative arrangements of tango, jazz, and pop music — think Piazzolla, Chick Corea, and Tower of Power — as well as for their energetic readings of contemporary composers, this string quartet brings a refreshingly new repertoire to the chamber music tradition with, as the Washington Post says, ‘…breezy wit, fine technical finish and a genuine feeling for musical idiom.’ QSF’s most recent release, Pacific Premieres: New Works by California Composers (2013), features commissioned string quartets from Gordon Goodwin, Vince Mendoza, and Patrick Williams, while previous recordings include the 2009 QSF Plays Brubeck (2 Grammy nominations), Whirled Chamber Music (2007), and the Latin and tango Latigo (2006), both of which earned Best Classical Crossover Grammy nominations. No wonder then that the classically trained Cohen, a student of Itzhak Perlman and Anne Crowden, also cut his teeth on the jazz chops of Joe Venuti and Eddie South, and as a studio musician on sessions for Ray Charles, Linda Ronstadt, and The Dukes of Hazzard. Second violinist Matt Szemela, praised by The New York Times for his ‘outrageous fiddling,’ along with violistChad Kaltinger and cellist Andres Vera, contribute their considerable and varied classical and ‘crossover’ chops to complete a foursome with wide-ranging musical sensibilities. As Cohen says, ‘When the music says swing, we swing. When the music says groove, we groove. When the music says espressivo, we play pretty.’
For 35 years Alex de Grassi has been bringing his unique voice to the art of steel-string acoustic guitar with his evocative compositions and arrangements, a broad palette of sonic techniques, and a highly orchestrated sound. The Wall Street Journal has called his playing ‘flawless’ and the Los Angeles Times has called him ‘…an acoustic guitarist or virtuosic strength and ability.’ Alex is best known for his early solo recordings, Turning: Turning Back, Slow Circle, andSouthern Exposure on the Windham Hill label, as well as the Grammy nominated The Water Garden and Now and Then: Folksongs for the 21st Century on his own Tropo Records, all of which have influenced a whole generation of acoustic guitar players. In addition to Three Themes for Guitar and Strings, Alex will also join QSF on select arrangements by Mr. Cohen.