My first classical music outing as a newly minted Boston/Somerville resident was attending a groupmuse to see the Cardamom Quartet play pieces ranging from Beethoven to contemporary. Groupmuse is a platform that enables local audiences to enjoy classical music via concert house parties. I was surprised that I have only come to know about this amazing innovation since moving out of NYC, but apparently, it's beginning to pick up there as well. The phenomenon started in Boston and is now a mainstay for classical music circles here.
Collectively, the musicians of the Cardamom Quartet are active performers, teachers, teaching artists, and composers. I learned that they make their living from a variety of freelance performing and teaching endeavors. As a quartet, they bring music to a whole range of audiences from kids to seniors to chamber music lovers all around Boston and beyond.
Their work is excellent. I closed my eyes and gave in to the luscious sounds emanating from their instruments. Their chemistry is well-rehearsed, natural, and honest, and listening to their music was akin to having a personalized Carnegie Hall performance in my living room.
The piece that especially resonated with my listening senses was cellist Ariel Friedman's Breath Support, which wove extended techniques with somber and unexpected tonalities.
On her soundcloud page (where you can hear the piece), she writes:
"Breath Support is an homage to the importance of breathing from both a personal and cultural standpoint. The opening phrase in the first violin evokes a quick exhalation followed by a longer inhalation and the rest of the piece is based on this motif. As each instrument adds its voice, a steady chaos builds until the quartet briefly lands together in harmony only to return to chaos a moment later. Eventually a sustained, quiet chorale draws the listener inward.
Many aspects of American culture do not afford room for standing still, listening, and breathing. Being busy is a cultural icon; the Busy Person, a new archetype. It is this lifelong process of slowing down that I aim to capture in Breath Support."