Quartet San Francisco

Quartet San Francisco Honors “Manny” Santana

Josef Dekon, D.M.A
Register-Pajaronian, Aptos, CA
March 2005

On Sunday March 6th, the Cabrillo College Distinguished Artists and Lecture Series (CDALS) directed by Dr. John Orlando presented the Quartet San Francisco in a concert at the Cabrillo Theater honoring local artist Manuel Santana and the 40th Anniversary of Manuel’s Mexican Restaurant in Aptos. Many of his recent paintings were displayed as an effective, artistic backdrop on the stage behind the Quartet and several were located in the Cabrillo Sesnon House where a gathering of supporters assembled for the planned post performance reception.

“Manny” …as he is affectionately called…is one of the founding fathers of the Cabrillo Music Festival and has been an intrinsic component of the Santa Cruz Symphony. To complete this worthy and festive occasion and as a gesture of appreciation and recognition, March 6th was officially designated Manuel Santana Day by the City of Santa Cruz, the Cabrillo College Art Department and the entire artistic community. This was a moving and well-deserved moment that will be long remembered by all!

It was only befitting that the CDALS would pair the highly original, artistic, demonstratively creative and innovative Quartet San Francisco with Manuel Santana for this celebrative occasion. The fabulous musical ensemble is comprised of Jeremy Cohen first violin, Kayo Miki second violin, Emily Onderdonk viola and Joel Cohen cello. The program consisted of a palate of unique, innovative, musical colors, compositions and arrangements by the highly talented and gifted Jeremy Cohen. The spectrum contained works by Duke Ellington, Peter Schickele, Raymond Scott, Mozart’s delightful Divertimento #1, Dave Brubeck’s well-known Blue Rondo ala Turk, Jeremy Cohen’s Crowdambo and a second half of much enjoyed Argentine tango works featuring Piazzolla’s Nuevo Tango. There were moments when Piazzolla’s Nuevo Tango sounded like an Argentine Prokofiev, with its intense urban complexity.

Jeremy Cohen and the Quartet captured the audience’s attention immediately with just the opening measure of their up-tempo first work. The audience thoroughly enjoyed Jeremy Cohen’s casual, open, interesting insight, comments and historically informative background relating to many of the works, especially Argentina’s famous musical genre, the tango.

The Quartet performed with flawless technique, beautiful artistic expression, precise dynamic and instrumental balance and musical sensitivity that brought thunderous applause from the audience after every work. Their inner group communication consisting of eye contact, warm smiles, head nods and body language gestures, all obvious signs of a highly professional and musically serious ensemble were a pleasure to watch. They were enjoying themselves and the results were superb in every conceivable musical sense! The Quartet entered an annual International tango competition in Buenos Aires, Argentina and of course this magnificent group won first prize! Each member of this talented group is a virtuoso who has conquered the discipline of listening to and blending with each other to create a string quartet sound texture second to none in the world today. Until last Sunday, Quartet San Francisco was the best-kept secret in the entire string quartet world. They are a must to see and hear at every possible opportunity!