The Borealis String Quartet at SMUS


by Jonathan Sudul, Grade 5

On January 25, Grades 5, 6, 7 and 8 string students heard a recital by the Borealis String Quartet. There were two violinists, one violist and a cellist. One of the instruments, a violin, is 311 years old. All four of the old Italian instruments played by members of the quartet were provided by a foundation in Taiwan. The Quartet travels all around the world playing concerts and teaching master classes. The Borealis played a few pieces by Franz Schubert, Beethoven and a modern Taiwanese composer. In the modern music each performer’s part sounded like a girl, boy, father or grandfather and we had to guess who was who. The first violinist was the girl, the second violinist was the boy, the cellist was the father and the violist was the grandfather. The final piece was called “Train Ride.” It seemed like everyone enjoyed the performance.

by Ellen Law, Grade 8

Walking to the Copeland Lecture Theatre, I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew we were going to listen to the Borealis String Quartet. My strings teacher had been talking about this for a while, but I had never heard of this group before, and didn’t know what they were like. I walked in and sat down. I saw them with their instruments, preparing to play their recital for us. Mrs. Smith introduced them all, telling us a little bit about each of them and about their instruments. All of the instruments were over 200 years old, which really surprised me. Then they started to play their first piece. The quartet started off slowly, then immediately jumped into the music. They moved around with each bow stroke and really got into the piece. This group did so many things that caught my attention that I had never seen before; including the difficult thumb position on the cello. They were so interesting that I couldn’t take my eyes off of them the entire time.

After the amazing recital, we all headed back to the Middle School. I thought that our time with the group was over, but I was in for another surprise: they were going to do a private workshop with each strings section. In my group of cellists, we all got into a semi-circle around the cellist from the quartet. He really helped us with increasing the tempo and helped us focus on when to play softer (piano) and when to play louder (forte). I really enjoyed my time learning with the cellist from the Borealis String Quartet. All members were very entertaining.

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