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This article by Elaine Strauss was published by U.S. 1 Newspaper on September

22, 1999. All rights reserved.

Brentano Strings, Plus One

The Brentano Quartet, Princeton University’s


quartet in residence, opens its three-year residence with a flourish

this week. The free public recital, co-sponsored by the Music


and Friends of Music at Princeton, takes place at Richardson


on Saturday, September 25, and features the quartet in performance

with faculty member, composer, and electric guitarist Steve Mackey.

The Brentano plans to open each semester with such a recital.

Named after Antonie Brentano, who many scholars believe was


mysterious "immortal beloved," the Brentano Quartet has


its musical merit at previous performances in Princeton, beginning

in 1993. It has appeared in both the Princeton University Concerts

series and the Summer Chamber Music Concerts. This is its first


however, as a resident ensemble.

The Brentano Quartet members are violists Misha Amory, Mark Steinberg,

and Serena Canin, and cellist Nina Maria Lee. The Chamber Music


of Lincoln Center chose the Brentano in 1995 to participate in its

inaugural season of Chamber Music Society Two, designed for


young artists on the verge of international careers in chamber music.

Funded by a gift from an alumnus, the Brentano’s three-year


marks the first-ever residency by a musical ensemble at Princeton.

There are no fixed guidelines for the quartet in residence role, Amory

told U.S. 1 in July. "It can mean different things, depending

on the quartet and the university. At Princeton it’s great for us

because the department is creative, and interested in our input. We

were surprised and touched that the first thing that came up was that

the department asked, `What are your interests?’" At this point

the quartet has no final agenda for its three years on campus,


they have scoped out a variety of areas where they will take part.

During their first semester they intend to participate in courses

taught by others. One of these is a course designed by Mackey of the

Princeton program in musical performance (U.S. 1 December 4, 1996).

The course, which Amory calls "unprecedented," is designed

around the programming and repertoire that the Brentano is working

on. In addition, the Brentano will devote themselves to new string

quartets composed by students. For the second semester, the ensemble

plans to focus on coaching student chamber music groups.

The Richardson concert will have some characteristics of a


and feature the ensemble’s premiere of two guitar quintets by Steve

Mackey, "Troubadour Songs" and "Physical Property."

Mackey, whose instrument is electric guitar, joins the performance.

"We hope to bring him with us to play the pieces in several


says Amory. "We’re recording these pieces, and it helps to have

performed the pieces in public."

Mackey’s "Physical Property" requires unusual tunings for

both cello and violin. Normally, the musical distance between adjacent

strings on instruments used in a string quartet is a perfect fifth,

the interval at the beginning of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little


For "Physical Property" Mackey shrinks the interval of one

pair of cello strings to a major third plus 1/4 tone (the musical,

distance at the opening of "The Bear Went Over the Mountain,"

and a little extra).

He also specifies that the lowest violin string be tuned more than

an octave lower than normal. "The G string is tuned so low,"

says Amory, "that it almost turns into a rubber band. It makes

a grunting, whining effect. We’ll use a spare violin for the special

tuning. Each of the violinists plays that violin as well as their

own instrument."

The concert recital includes, in addition to the Mackey quintets,

Schubert’s G Major Quartet. Amory sets to rest any doubts about the

balance of the program by pointing out Mackey’s sensitivity to


"If you think about a piece for string quartet and electric


you expect loud, blasting, unrelenting energy from the guitar. But

Mackey has adjusted the amplification so the guitar is just one of

the instruments. He uses innovative sounds. His pieces are


subtle, and colorful. If they were too loud, it would be difficult

to follow up with the Schubert."

— Elaine Strauss

Brentano String Quartet, Princeton Music Department,

Richardson Auditorium, 609-258-5000. The Music Department and Friends

of Music at Princeton present a debut concert by the Brentano String

Quartet. Free. Saturday, September 25, 8 p.m.

Top Of Page

George Street Playhouse is seeking interesting, eclectic,

talented, creative performers for its after-hours Playhouse Cabaret.

"If you have a great act that can be done in an intimate setting,

you can perform at the Spot," says Wendy Liscow. Auditions begin

Friday, September 24, at 6 p.m. Prepare a five-minute sample. To


call 732-846-2895, extension 202.

The Blawenburg Band, one of the oldest and most active

bands in New Jersey, is seeking new members, particularly trumpet

and clarinet players. Rehearsals are Monday evenings in Hopewell.

For more information, call director Jerry Rife, 609-882-4148.

Villagers Theater, deMott Lane, Somerset, has auditions

for its November production of "Guys and Dolls," especially

seeking men who can sing. For appointment call 609-936-1228.

Puttin’ on the Ritz has auditions for "The


on Sunday, October 3. Directed by Bruce Curless, the show begins


13, 2000. To schedule, call 856-858-5230.

Top Of Page
Participate Please

The fall 1999 issue of FZQ — online at

— invites readers. Featured are poems by Andrew Feindt, Joan Pond,

L.S. Shevshenko, Matthew David Hittinger, Melissa Gammill, Marcella

Daly Mrockzkowski, Timothy Joseph Mladic, Debrah Kayla Sterling, and

Ace Boggess. New at the site are a Virtual Photo Gallery, an


Poetry Challenge, and "Fooling With Words," a PBS special

with Bill Moyers at the 1998 Dodge Poetry Festival.

Top Of Page
Volunteers Needed

The New Jersey Shakespeare Festival is seeking volunteers

to assist in ticket-taking, ushering, and concessions at the F.M.

Kirby Shakespeare Theater in Madison. Volunteers work alongside


staff and see productions free of charge. Call house manager Laura

Carey, 973-408-3694.

Samaritan Hospice is seeking caring, compassionate


to assist area residents as part of its caregiving team. Call


Capital Health System seeks volunteers for its Silver

Spoons Program, a patient assistance feeding program. Application

process includes an interview, health screening, orientation, and

training. Call Lynne Kluin, 609-394-6102.

Animal Allies seeks volunteers to walk dogs, feed and

pet cats and kittens at Petsmart in West Windsor, Saturdays, from

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 609-737-0775.

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