Two summers ago, I (Sam) went to a house concert of all new string quartet music. Like many regular concert-goers I've been conditioned to expect contemporary classical music to be atonal, experimental, or avant-garde. But what I heard (string quartet by Bernard) was like nothing I'd ever heard before. The timing was auspicious; just the week before I played a concert with my clarinetist friend Lauren, after which we had talked about starting a group together. Soon after, the three of us made it official and formed the Kassia Music Collective along with Adina, and Elizabeth and Susanna joined us a few months later.
Here's me and Lauren at the group's first gig!
Here's Bernard and Susanna at a more recent one:
We play music by our own along with the standards, your Bachs and Mozarts, but we also like to perform music that we think is undeservedly neglected.
As individuals we've played in orchestras and groups all over the country and world, in venues from Carnegie Hall to Transylvania Philharmonic Hall. We think contemporary music gets a bad rap and want to show people that new music can be distinctive without sacrificing beauty, that melody and harmony are forever in style.
And our name? It comes from one of the oldest composers whose music survives today and is able to be interpreted.
For our first album, we decided to record my first string quartet, Bernard's suite for violin, viola, clarinet & piano, and string quartet miniatures by 20th-century Georgian composer Sulkhan Tsintsadze (the "Georgian Shostakovich"). We're making a recorded album so we can reach a wider audience, so we can have a version of our music that we feel represents our best work together as a group. It's for you, the listeners, and also for us to showcase and take our group to the next level.
As the group was forming I was in the midst of writing my first commission (a string quartet for the San Francisco Symphony—to whom I was referred by Yo-Yo Ma!). The project was the brainchild of Raushan Akhmedyarova, a violinist in the San Francisco Symphony whose father Karshyga Akhmedyarov was a famous dombra player in Kazakhstan, and who premiered it at Davies Hall in San Francisco. From the latter's music and the folk style of Kazakhstan I drew inspiration and fragments of music for the piece. Bernard, Adina, Elizabeth and Susanna were the first ones to read it in the fall of 2016, and the advice and suggestions they gave me were essential to making it what it is now. We've (they've) performed it several times and it's become one of our go-to's as a group.
Here's a peak at the 4th movement (of 5):
Bernard's piece started out (the first movement) as a piece to read at a chamber music party at which there wouldn't be a cellist (yes, we write music to play at chamber music parties), but since then it's grown into this incredible roller-coaster ride of a piece. Watch some of the alternately quirky, passionate, and downright funny third movement here. Personally I know I'm in love with a piece of chamber music when I can't even practice it without singing along the other parts—Bernard's is one of those pieces.
Last on the recording is a set of pieces that you may not know, even if you know lots of string quartet music, but we think should be added to the pantheon: miniatures by Georgian composer Sulkhan Tsintsadze. Of course, unlike the above pieces, you can check out a few recordings of Tsintsadze's miniatures; here's a good one, but we think ours can match it.
We're making our recordings at Blue House Productions in Silver Spring and Kensington, MD. I know the studio well, because I recently made my own solo album there (Spotify link). I hope you'll agree the sound and the quality are pristine! So we're very exciting to be working with the same studio.
Studio time (30 hours): $3000
Editing time (15 hours): $1500
Physical manufacture and shipping (300 CDs): $700
Graphic Design: $200
Promotion and Marketing: $1000
We're asking for your help to help bring the project to life and cut down on our group expenses. In return you can choose from a number of different rewards in addition to (of course) the final product!
Risks and challenges
Luckily, we've already put in a good amount of studio time and recorded much of the music planned for the album. The remaining challenges are carving out time to agree on edits and coming to group consensus on the best cuts. We also have lots left to do in deciding / executing on things like cover art, physical production, and label. Our goal is to release by the end of this year, but we don't want to sacrifice quality in a rush to be finished. Ultimately we want a great recording that represents our best.
To overcome these challenges we've scheduled and committed to studio time out into October, have assigned various roles to different members of the group, and have been in contact with a record label about plans for a possible release.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (39 days)