On Monday, January 9th, 7:30 P.M. schedule to be at Kennedy Center in D.C. - Family Theater to enjoy the divine sounds of Dover Quartet and cheer up for Joel Link - violin, Bryan Lee - violin, Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt - viola, and Camden Shaw - cello.
Dover Quartet is the most handsome group of young musicians slaying every single performance. What are the key attributes to your success?
Hah! I'm glad someone thinks we're handsome! You're very kind. Would you like some free tickets to our next show? In all seriousness, though- success is such an elusive and little-understood phenomenon. I'm not sure how someone outside the group might answer this, but from my perspective, we're all very driven as individuals and came together at such a young age that the group sound developed in a special way. We really grew up together.
What void did you set out to fill when you first started out?
I think we were setting out to fill an inner void; we have an insatiable appetite for music, and the more of it we played together, the more we wanted to play. Perhaps you'd classify that as addiction?
What programming choices do you make with the aim of highlighting the strength of each group member?
Luckily for us, most of the music we play is so well written that it ends up featuring all of us in some way or another - I actually don't think we've ever given that much thought. I suppose that might become an issue if we played only very early Haydn, but then again that music is so fresh and inventive that I would be more than happy bumbling around the bass lines all day.
Your concerts have earned highest marks in highbrow circles and real world critics. How do you keep yourself grounded?
Again, you're very kind. I think the first part of the answer is that generally we don't tend to care very much what the critics say, although of course we're always happy when someone likes our performance. Our sense of how well we're playing is derived from how close we feel we're getting to communicating the essence of the music, and frankly, I can't think of one concert in my life that got close to the perfection of what these composers wrote on the page. That doesn't mean we haven't been very proud of how we played; just that we're always aware that our realization of the music can never equal the concept. That certainly keeps one humble.
Based on your performing history, who are the composers whose works satisfy a diverse mix of listeners over and over again? Beethoven and Shostakovich electrify people of all ages. I think there's a rawness and intensity of emotion that makes them powerful, even to those who may have never heard "classical" music before.
What’s your take on contemporary composers and new music? Can you share any examples of recent collaborations with other brilliant musicians or artists? There are always master composers in any era, and it is the duty of musicians to work with them and get as much music out of them as possible. This February, we're touring with the wonderful Israeli mandolinist Avi Avital, playing a wonderful work called "Cymbeline" by the British Composer David Bruce. This piece will definitely stand the test of time and audiences adore it. In the last year we also premiered fantastic works by Caroline Shaw and Richard Danielpour, a Quartet and Clarinet Quintet, respectively.
Who are your biggest cheerleaders and how do they get you pumped up? I think we derive a LOT of inspiration from old recordings - the true master musicians like Horowitz, Heifetz, the Guarneri Quartet, and Joseph Silverstein, and many others, of course. The colors and emotions those artists could communicate.... WOW.
Do you plan any fun side projects to make the most of your tour travels? Alas, most of our traveling is so fast-paced that its airport to concert hall to hotel... back to airport the next day... aaaand repeat for months at a time. Sometimes we'll have a little extra time and we definitely use it. When touring in Israel, we made time to visit the Dead Sea and float about. In Italy we took a few days to see Venice. Of course, every day is an opportunity to explore local coffee and food.
Is there a favorite composer saying (or note/instruction you’ve read in any of the scores) that you use as reference and that could be a hit even with nonmusicians? I love the Bach quote "harmony is next to Godliness". And I agree! Harmony is the root of so much power in music. We also heard the phrase "practice makes... different" from our mentor Roberto Díaz (also our violist Milena's teacher, and the President of the Curtis Institute of Music where we began). I think that's a way more accurate statement than the famous "practice makes perfect".
What upcoming projects are you excited about? 2017 will see the release of our World War II album, with three pieces written during or right after the war. It was an emotional project and two of the pieces are not very well known, despite their absolute brilliance; sharing them is very important to us, and I think the recording will be very powerful. We've also just started filming the first bits of a documentary about the Dover Quartet. It will definitely be fun to see what the director makes of our crazy job.