The Chiara Quartet steps into the future
By the time of this post, the news of the Chiara Quartet disbanding in September 2018 after 18 professional seasons together will be public. Whenever I hear about a quartet ending I worry about the personal health of the members and their families, I am concerned and curious about the relationships within the group, and I hope that all is well. I feel compelled to let everyone know that all is well. In fact, all is better than well. The four of us in the Chiara Quartet came to our decision in April 2017, and it was and is a joyful one.
It is no secret that it is has been one of my life dreams to play in a professional string quartet. This was my father’s business when I was growing up, but it was also something that intrigued and suited me in particular. I love working closely with a small number of people in a creative setting, playing some of the most transcendent music I know, giving my all to the experience. I love analyzing and decoding Beethoven’s greatest works and exploring new languages in quartet commissions by our friends. I love laughing as a team, seeking out great food on the road, staying with the larger quartet family when traveling. I love the unique trust within a long-term ensemble and the transformative experiences that happen when this trust is shared on and off stage.
The Chiara Quartet has always been a high-intensity, honest, focused, supportive group. Together we have forever pushed ourselves to go deeper into the music, to discover new heights with one another in our rehearsals and performances as well as in our teaching as a group and individually. I am grateful beyond belief for our shared experiences, and while I will miss quartet life with these fantastic humans, I am ready to move onto the next phase (and stay tuned for occasional CSQ collaborations in the future…).
Something that keeps coming up in our quartet to help explain our decision is the idea of expansion. In the past few years in particular we have been opening, releasing, extending in our rehearsals and performances to include more creativity, more freedom. Playing by heart has been motivated by a desire to free ourselves from too much analysis, from getting too myopic in our thinking. It’s almost like we’ve been trying to see our creative work from space instead of from the stage. I relate to composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s explanation of the way she sees and hears music in multiple views. On an episode of WQXR’s Meet the Composer podcast, she questions which view she takes to listen to her musical work; how does a piece sound different from a vertical or from a horizontal view? Maybe we in the Chiara Quartet have been searching for a new way to experience the string quartet, and human relationships in general.
Throughout this journey of group expansion we have also been expanding our individual creative lives. All of the outward-focused motion the quartet has encouraged and supported is buoying us forward individually into the career paths upon which we are ready to embark. We will follow each other’s journeys with continued and enthusiastic interest.
In my next phase, I am excited to perform in new chamber music and solo contexts. I am also thrilled to teach violin students and coach chamber music with more regularity. My husband Anthony and I will continue to perform together as the multidisciplinary duo The Afield, and beyond that, we plan to open The Afield School, an organization pioneering interdisciplinary art-making and performance. The school will have a central hub (location TBA) as well as mobile, pop-up locations around the world. It is our dream to change the artistic fabric of communities through new and challenging explorations in the arts at home and abroad.
Many people have asked me if I’m sad about the quartet ending. Of course I’m sad. We have spent 17 life-changing professional years playing together. Looking back even further, Greg Beaver and I played in the Chiara Quartet when we were age 16 and 17, respectively, studying at the Musicorda Summer String Festival in 1993, 24 years ago. At the end of the 2017-18 season it will be 18 years of professional playing (same members) and 25 years total. This is a hugely meaningful amount of time dedicated to extraordinary music and each other. I will expect nostalgia as well as other complex emotions throughout this celebratory season, however because of the gratitude I have for our career, I have not experienced and do not expect to experience regret. I am fortunate enough to be following my dreams, and for this I am indescribably grateful.