Performing Bartók from memory

Posted on: August 25, 2016

“When the Chiara String Quartet performs all of Bartok’s six string quartets by heart next week at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, it believes it will accomplish a feat no other group of musicians has ever attempted,” writes Jane Levere on Thursday (8/25) at New York classical radio station WQXR. “Playing music strictly by memory is nothing new for the Chiara, however. The quartet—which was established in 2000 by violinists Rebecca Fischer and Hyeyung Julie Yoon, violist Jonah Sirota and cellist Gregory Beaver—gradually began to perform select pieces without sheet music at concerts in 2011. Then, as a group, they decided in 2014 to start memorizing all of their pieces…. In 2014, the quartet released the CD, Brahms by Heart, featuring the composer’s string quartets and String Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111, with violist Roger Tapping. For the 2015–16 season, all of the music at its concerts was performed entirely from memory…. ‘We try to build multiple redundant memories into the work, so if one form of memory falters, we have another form to fall back on,’ [Sirota] explained. The exercise is not a gimmick, but has rather improved the connection between the four Chiaras.” Click here to read Symphony magazine’s feature article about orchestras and other musicians who are performing from memory.

Posted August 25, 2016