Corrections or additions?
This article by Elaine Strauss was prepared for the August 8, 2001
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Cuarteto America: Strings with a Latin Flavor
When a string quartet replaces a member, there is
dislocation. The trauma of switching personnel in so intimate a body
begs for an interval of recovery before the group can meet its tasks
fully. Just as a broken bone must be set and given time to heal, a
string quartet must have a period of consolidation if its membership
Not surprisingly, in the face of losing two of its members recently,
Elements Quartet, which was scheduled to play at the Soclair Music
Festival in Lebanon on Sunday, August 12, notified artistic director
Edward Brewer in mid-June that it would be unable to appear. A string
quartet protects a sparkling reputation better by calling off a
than by doggedly limping through an engagement. Diligently, Brewer
searched his mind, worked the web, and dug into his Rolodex to find
a replacement for the August date, when many ensembles are either
already committed or on vacation. Brewer was lucky.
The Cuarteto America, with its new violist, was available to perform.
The concert takes place in the barn at Soclair Brooks Farm in Lebanon
on Sunday, August 12, at 4 p.m., the third of a four-concert season.
Members of the ensemble are Marion Peraza, first violin; Carlos Rubio,
violin; Meghan Casper, viola; and Carlos Izcaray, cello. The two
are the only original members of the group, which was founded in 1994
in Caracas, Venezuela. Violist Casper, a Minnesota native is the first
With Casper settled in sufficiently after joining up in May, Cuarteto
America was ready to present a characteristic program, which leans
toward the Latin American. The Lebanon program consists of Argentinean
Astor Piazzolla’s "Four for Tango;" Beethoven’s String Quartet
Op. 59, No. 3; and Bartok’s String Quartet No. 2.
Interviewed by telephone from his home in Cincinnati, violinist Rubio,
who conceived the idea of creating the quartet, stressed the
of the ensemble’s roots in Latin American music. "Playing Latin
music compares with playing jazz," he says. "It’s natural
if you grow up with it. There’s a lot of rhythm and folk music in
Latin American music. We study it in conservatory. The history is
strong for us. We’re very close to it. Salsa and merengue are easy
for us to dance; we feel it."
Rubio talks of a gap between the music of North America and South
America. "Understanding Latin American music is easier for us
than for others. I can play jazz, but I don’t have the feeling for
it. It’s not in my blood. When non-Latin American Quartets play Latin
music, all the notes are there, but the flavor isn’t there."
Still, the quartet goes beyond exploring Latin American music.
a young quartet," says Rubio. "Therefore, we’re also pursuing
Rubio, 27, was born in Maracaibo, the oil capital of Venezuela, and
grew up in Caracas, where his parents currently live. His father has
retired as a supervisor for the Fiat and Chrysler companies. His
has retired from her work in public relations.
Like the other original members of Cuarteto America,
Rubio attended the Conservatorio Simon Bolivar in Caracas and became
a member of the professional Orquestra Simon Bolivar, where the
was born. In 1997, three years after its founding, the quartet was
invited to pursue an intensive training program with the Penderecki
String Quartet at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario,
Canada. The same year they became the Graduate String Quartet in
at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, where they worked under the
tutelage of the Oxford String Quartet, and emerged with masters’
At the third annual competition in the performance of Spanish and
Latin American music at Indiana University in 2000, they triumphed
over a field of eight finalists to win. They are currently in
at the Cincinnati String Academy, where they will present their own
three-concert music series in the 2001-2002 season.
Rubio’s performing career goes back 12 years to the time when he was
15 and a high school student simultaneously studying at the
At that time he managed to work his way into a spot in Caracas’ Simon
Bolivar Orchestra. He still relishes the experience, which took him
on tour to Spain, the United States, Mexico, and Japan. "It was
difficult to combine playing in the orchestra with going to
he says. "I don’t want to lie. There was no A-plus all the
While he chalked up no impressive academic achievements, he laid the
basis for more important accomplishments.
Now a United States resident, Rubio has managed to take the lead in
a string quartet devoted to keeping Latin American music afloat, and
in keeping the ensemble basically Latin American, even when a
violist comes from the state of Minnesota.
— Elaine Strauss
Farm, Lebanon, 908-236-6476. Cincinnati-based string quartet with
Latin American flavor. Part of a four-part, subscription series, the
concert may still have seats — call for ticket information.
August 12, at 4 p.m
Princeton University Museum Registrar Maureen McCormick tells how an
exhibit is moved . . . a cover story for this issue.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.