Quartet in Christmas tune

Music: Philharmonic members perform on Dec. 8

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Dec 04, 2013 09:58 am

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Four Calgary instrumentalists are combining Christmas and classical music in a performance sure to get people into the holiday spirit.

Zabaglione Quartet’s Craig Hutchenreuther, Robert Penner, Arthur Bachmann and Tom Megee are performing a mixture of light classical and Christmas repertoire in the Rotary Performing Arts Centre on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. Hutchenreuther and Penner play the violin, Bachmann the viola and Megee cello.

“A string quartet is like the perfect combination,” said Hutchenreuther. “Stringed instruments can be used to generate quite a wide range of sounds. They’re not as loud as the brass, of course, but they can evoke just about any kind of emotion that one would want. I’ve heard string instruments being compared to the human voice in that regard.”

The Zabaglione Quartet will perform classics from such world-renowned composers as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Arcangelo Corelli, with his famous Christmas Concerto, as well as some lesser known composers.

Hutchenreuther said his audience will gain a better appreciation for the music as his quartet interacts with listeners, sharing stories and talking about their instruments.

“We share a belief that good times and good music are highly compatible,” he said. “We like our audience to have a good time and we’re not afraid to laugh or to amuse our audience.”

The four musicians are members of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) and have been playing as a string quartet for more than 15 years.

It is something the musicians do outside of the CPO and they find the two styles of performing different from each other, said Hutchenreuther.

For instance, as part of the orchestra each musician must be in sync with the others, he said.

“One of the joys of playing in an orchestra is you get to have the experience where the total is more than the sum of the parts,” he said. “We all work together and this marvelous thing is accomplished.”

When playing as part of a quartet, the rules change.

“In a quartet you are responsible for your own part entirely,” he said. “There is a little bit more scope for freedom. It’s music that the four of us have chosen specifically because we like to play it and because the audience will enjoy it.”

The interaction with the audience is also different when comparing the 65-member orchestra to a quartet, said Hutchenreuther.

“The (quartet performances) tend to be in a more intimate setting and physically closer to our audience,” he said.

Hutchenreuther said the two types of performing feed off each other.

“It’s having the breadth of experience that you get only from these (performing as an orchestra and quartet) that helps shed light on the other,” he said. “It gives me a broader experience which, in turn, helps me to perform the music that I’m playing in whichever venue it is.”

CPO performers who delve into other musical styles have become regulars at the Rotary Performing Centre, said Town of Okotoks Cultural and Historical Team Leader Allan Boss.

The orchestra’s musicians entertain foothills residents in a variety of performances throughout the year. This particular concert is an added bonus in celebration of Christmas, he said.

Tickets to see the Zabaglione Quartet perform at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre cost $15 each and can be purchased at www.okotoksculture.ca or by calling 403-938-3204.


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