It is fun to think of the string quartet in the eighteenth century—the era of its genesis—as the ideal band of the era: democratic, relevant to its time, and a powerful creative crucible. We formed Brooklyn Rider because we believe that the string quartet can be an equally viable and potent force in the twenty-first century. And although we love the core historical repertoire, investing in the music of our time is a compelling way to connect with contemporary listeners. Admiring the boundless creativity exhibited by our favorite bands of today, we began to wonder why a string quartet shouldn’t also endeavor to create music collaboratively rather than relying on the singular voice of the composer?
We decided to explore this idea with a new album, entitled Seven Steps. The album is named after the opening track, our first ever group-composed piece. The process of writing and improvising music collaboratively requires an enormous amount of trust. Symbolically, this process represents seven steps forward in our evolution as a quartet.
The second track of the album is a work by Christopher Tignor, NYC-based composer/band leader by night and software engineer by day, who wrote “Together Into This Unknowable Night” for Brooklyn Rider in 2008. Christopher’s music, informed as much by the vast possibilities of the electronic music universe as it is by his tactile experience as a violinist, seemed to be a natural fit for this album.
The rest of the album features arguably one of the greatest quartets ever written, and one of Beethoven's greatest works - String Quartet no.14 in C# minor, op.131. One of the central challenges of that piece is that it places huge emotional and physical demands on the player, often posing near-impossible musical juxtapositions. But in demanding the impossible, Beethoven forces us to rise to no less than our full potential, to interact with each other and society on equal terms, to love and to be vulnerable—in short, to experience a sense of catharsis together. Throughout our rehearsal process, we came to understand op. 131 as the story of a life, and the ingenious variation of musical DNA throughout surely creates one of the ultimate motivic journeys in the classical music canon. This is truly mind and spirit-expanding music and it is our privilege as performers to live in this world.
We are very lucky to work on this album with one of the young stars of the recording industry, Grammy-winning engineer Jesse Lewis.The material is recorded, and we are very excited about the result. The album will be available on CD/ all digital retailers, as well as Limited Edition Vinyl. You may ask, "why vinyl?" First of all, vinyl creates a bridge to a past we deeply admire. The medium (in its predecessor, shellac 78s) brought us the unforgettable voices of the Capet, Rosé, and Busch String Quartets along with other greats on up to the advent of the digital age. But beyond the historic links, vinyl is above all a tactile experience for the listener. The simple act of putting a record on the turntable requires more of an investment than a touch screen or track wheel, an investment that results in a more engaged listening environment.
We are asking for your help to make this record a reality. The album will be released by In a Circle Records, a company that was started in 2008 by one of Brooklyn Rider violinists, Johnny Gandelsman. Although this sounds somewhat official, this is completely an independent project. The money we hope to raise will help off-set production, post-production, art design, manufacturing and promotion costs, which are quite substantial. We need your help so that we can share this album with as many music lovers as possible.
We are deeply grateful for your support. It is so exciting to embark on this journey with all of you, and we can't wait for you to hear Seven Steps!
A sincere Thank You from Colin, Eric, Johnny and Nick.
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