This season at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Calder Quartet is performing Bartok’s string quartets in an interesting fashion. The Calder Quartet was founded at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California fifteen years ago, and this season they will be accompanied by special guest artists. The reason for these guests is to highlight the connections between the string quarts and vocal music. Although Bartok mostly wrote instrumental music, his works were influenced by native Hungarian songs.
Friday night, The Calder Quartet performed Bartok’s String Quartets No. 3 and No. 4 with David Longstreth, the founder and singer of the indie rock band “Dirty Projectors”. Although this combination may seem a little strange at first, the musical result sounds very interesting. The NewYork Times review by Vivien Schweitzer said that, “Mr. Longstreth’s somewhat off-kilter, unpredictable voice, stretched languidly over ambiguous harmonies on his guitar, seemed an ideal vocal alter ego for Bartok’s modal string writing”. Longstreth also sang original Dirty Projectors’ songs with the quartet adding a new, Beethovenian, string accompaniment.
Although I have not actually heard music from this performance, I think that this concert was a really great idea. This is another case of artists making classical music more easily accessible to members of the public. This type of concert also appeals to a broad audience, with people from both the classical realm and the indie rock realm finding a reason to attend the concert. Hopefully concerts such as this will help gain supporters of classical music who will have an interest in everything from traditional concerts to this type of innovative experience.