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September 26, 2013

Musical award-winning JACK Quartet plays at Drinko Hall

By Hannah Corcoran

The critically acclaimed JACK Quartet performed at Cleveland State Universitiy’s Drinko Hall on Monday, Sept. 16. The concert was a part of the music department’s Cleveland Contemporary Players artist-in-residency series.

The JACK Quartet, winner of New Music USA’s 2013 “Trailblazer Award,” is made up of violist John Pickford Richards, violinist Ari Streiseld, violinist Christopher Otto and cellist
Kevin McFarland.

Their performance featured the world premiere of “String Quartet No. 2,” composed by Andrew Rindfleisch, director of the series and coordinator of Cleveland States Music Composition program.

The foursome, a contender in the international classical music scene, saved Dr. Rindfleisch’s composition for last.

During the performance, the group showcased their ability to put modern touches on classical music. The group has an interest in how early music forms connections with modern music, said Otto.

The first half of the concert was more upbeat and low. They started off the concert with “Angelorum Psalat” by Rodericus from around the year 1400. Otto, the group’s violinst arranged the version they performed. Then, they transitioned into Wolfgang von Schweinitz’s “Plainsound String Quartet ‘Holy Howl,’” which was composed for them this past year, and debuted in Switzerland.

The second half of the recital brought with it much more variation and drama. During “The Dead Man,” by John Zorn, written in 1990, human emotion and noises were conveyed. The piece went from soft and slow to loud and intense, then faded out. The music translated the actions of screeching, scratching and running, which made the performance come alive and involved the instruments telling a story.

The last composition, Dr. Rindfleisch’s piece was 30 minutes long and wildly entertaining. It gradually went from loud and intense to soft and extremely low. This piece was original because one string on each instrument was turned a quarter-tone up or down to “make harmonic connections,” according to Rindfleisch. It was also composed using instrumental mutes. The re-tuning made it sound like the instruments were out of tune to create an interesting collection of sounds, while the muting had a dramatic effect. The quartet worked off each other to deliver a skillful and exciting production.

After the two-hour-long recital, the group graciously thanked Dr. Rindfleisch and Cleveland State for inviting them to perform.