This Saturday, November 4th at 7:30 at St. Andrews River Heights United Church, Virtuosi Concerts will be welcoming to the stage the New Orford Quartet. The members of the quartet consist of some of the best string players in Canada. The violinists of the quartet are the Concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Andrew Wan, The Concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Jonathan Crow. The violist is Sharon Wei who is Associate Professor of viola at The University of Western Ontario, and the cellist is Brian Manker who is the principal cellist of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.

The concert on Saturday night is called Pizzicato Landscapes and explores some of the wonderful sonic possibilities and textures that plucking of the strings creates in a string quartet setting.

The concert will feature music of Ravel, Beethoven the American composer Caroline Shaw, and Canadian composer Ana Sokolovic. All of the works showcasing the amazing musicianship and sound worlds that can be created by these four extremely varied compositions, performed by these four phenomenal musicians.

For all the members of the quartet plucking or pitzzing the strings is something that is a lot of fun. As violist Sharon Wei states, “It’s been really fun to explore these pieces that make use of pizzicato in different ways.” Cellist Brian Manker goes on to say that, “I like to think of myself as the pizzicato king…I really enjoy it…I enjoy exploring all the different resonances, and getting it to ring as long as possible, or to be very dry. There is just so much there that is really a completely technique than with a bow. It’s a lot of fun.”

The program consists of Beethoven’s 10th String Quartet known as “Harp” quartet because of the pitzzing that occurs in the first movement.  The other major work on the program is Maurice Ravel’s magnificent string quartet that takes the listener through a whole beautiful and distinctive sound world as heard through the prism of Ravel’s gorgeous harmonic language.’

The other two works on the program are Pulitzer Prize winning composer Caroline Shaw’s piece “Blueprint,” and Juno Award winning composer Ana Sokolovic’s collection of pieces called “Commedia delle’arte.”

Ana Sokolovic’s “Commedia delle’arte.” started out as a few pieces written for the Banff International String Quartet Competition and has since grown into a collection of several miniatures for string quartet; each one of the miniatures presenting a different character, with the results often been very humorous.

Caroline Shaw’s piece “Blueprint” really does bring the concert full circle. The inspiration and basis of the work is Beethoven’s Op18 no 6 Quartet, but with some added twists. As violinist Jonathan Crow states, “We’ll be playing these moments that are basically exactly like Beethoven and then it will veer off into something wild.”

Pizzicato Landscapes is sure to be a terrific concert performed by a powerhouse group of players. The concert takes place this Saturday night November 4th at 7:30 at St. Andrews River Heights United Church.

For more details go check out the Virtuosi Concerts Website.