Brooklyn Rider’s motto could be “variety is the spice of life.” While the members of this 13-year old string quartet enjoy playing many works from the string quartet’s traditional repertoire, they also step outside their classical world and collaborate with musicians and dancers working in other musical genres.
During Brooklyn Rider’s February 9 concert at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, the group plays quartets by Mozart and Ravel as well as “Qi,” a work celebrating the energy of life which was composed for the ensemble by Evan Ziporyn, and “Undiu,” a bossa nova piece written for voice and guitar that Brooklyn Rider’s violinist Colin Jacobsen arranged for the quartet.
“This diverse program really represents what we do,” Jacobsen says.
Comprised of Jacobsen, violinist Johnny Gandelsman, violist Nicholas Cords and cellist Michael Nicholas, Brooklyn Rider burst onto the classical music scene in 2005. Nicholas, who replaced Jacobsen’s brother Eric Jacobsen in 2016, is the only new member.
Through the years, the quartet has worked with many different musicians including Iranian kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhor, singer/songwriter Gabriel Kahane, Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman and Irish fiddle master Martin Hayes.
“We’ve had musical crushes and approached people we’ve really wanted to work with,” explains Jacobsen. “We’ve also had musicians and dancers approach us. In many cases, someone we don’t know personally but want to know is just one person away from us. The music world is small, even across genres.”
Brooklyn Rider has recorded 11 albums since 2008. The piece “Qi,” which will be performed at the Lensic, is included on their latest album “Spontaneous Symbols.”
While the quartet has a demanding touring schedule, each musician also has his own musical endeavors outside the group. Juggling schedules is a bit of a balancing act.
“There are ups and downs of not being together full-time,” says Jacobsen. “But our other activities feed us, so when we come together, we feel refreshed.”