Dallas-based string quartet to open series

The Altius String Quartet will open the concert season for the Western Slope Concert Series with performances on Friday and Sunday, Oct. 18 and 20. Their concerts will include “Death and the Maiden” by Schubert, a quartet by Philip Glass and the Dvorak Piano Quintet with pianist Kathryn Mientka.

The Western Slope Concert Series opens with the Dallas-based Altius String Quartet in two concerts.

The first will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, at the First United Methodist Church, 522 White Ave., and the second will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, at the Montrose Pavilion, 1800 Pavilion Dr.

The quartet’s members are cellist Zachary Reaves, violist Andrew Krimm and violinists Andrew Giordano and Sercan Danis.

The group won the International Plowman Chamber Music Competition earlier this year at the University of Missouri.

Tickets to either local show cost $9 in advance at JunctionConcerts.com, Roper Music or the Montrose Pavilion. Tickets cost $12 at the door.

In advance of the quartet’s concerts, Reaves talked about the group’s style and how he introduced one of the group’s members to American football. After all, the quartet is based in Texas.

Melinda Mawdsley: Thanks so much for your time. How did you four meet?

Zachary Reaves: We all did our graduate studies at Southern Methodist University in 2011. I had just started a small concert series here in Dallas with goals of breaking down barriers of the stereotypical classical music and classical musicians to invite new audiences to concerts. We played a few times throughout that year and realized we really enjoyed working together, so we’ve taken it beyond just a concert series and are trying to go wherever.

Mawdsley: What do you mean by “barriers” and “classical music stereotypes?”

Reaves: In the era of pop culture, classical music has kind of lost its relevance during the past several decades, and I think that’s a big reason arts organizations are struggling because they are having a hard time finding ways to connect to their audiences. The stereotype is (classical music) is elitist or high-brow, and what it comes down to is we are four normal guys who like to watch sports and hang out.

Mawdsley: How do you try and make classical music more approachable for people?

Reaves: The biggest thing is how it’s presented. If people are going to clap between movements we don’t care. In some concert halls, if people clap between movements they’ll get the look of death. If the music moves you, you shouldn’t be judged for having that reaction.

We play Beethoven, Brahms, but in our concerts in Colorado, we’ll be playing music by Philip Glass. We try to encompass all realms of music. Last year in Colorado we played Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” as an encore. We didn’t tell people that was coming, but that was a great surprise.

Mawdsley: What is your background in music?

Reaves: I started playing cello when I was 10. I grew up in Oklahoma City. My parents are both violinists, so I grew up around a musical family. Each of us has our own unique upbringing.

Mawdsley: How much work does it take to become as proficient as you are?

Reaves: We rehearse anywhere from three to six times a day, spending 18-25 hours a week together. Outside of that, we practice several hours a day. Before we all met, we had done our undergraduates at our respective schools where we practiced like maniacs. It takes years and years of time and hard work and keeping a positive attitude, listening to yourself and listening to yourself about what you hear.

Mawdsley: You mentioned you like to watch football, and you live in Dallas, so I have to ask: Did you watch the Broncos and Cowboys game?

Reaves: We were actually driving to Houston while that game was going on and following along on the phone. We thought it was going to be a blowout by Denver. Me and our violist are diehard football fans. One of our violinists is from Australia. He’s into rugby, but we are getting him into football. We had him join our fantasy football league.


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