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TODD MACLEAN: Ulysses Quartet Odyssey dazzles audience during P.E.I. performance

The Ulysses Quartet performs at Dr. Steel Recital Hall at UPEI in Charlottetown on Jan. 7. From left are Christina Bouey, violin, Rhiannon Banerdt, violin, Grace Ho, cello, and Colin Brookes, viola.
The Ulysses Quartet performs at Dr. Steel Recital Hall at UPEI in Charlottetown on Jan. 7. From left are Christina Bouey, violin, Rhiannon Banerdt, violin, Grace Ho, cello, and Colin Brookes, viola.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Before the Island was dazzled with white, last Saturday evening, a nearly sold-out crowd gathered at UPEI’s Dr. Steel Recital Hall to be dazzled in sound.

All the way from New York City, the Ulysses Quartet was in Charlottetown for its much-anticipated performance and the impending snowstorm certainly did not keep the audience away.

The Ulysses Quartet was founded just a year and a half ago, but they have already been winners of the grand prize and the gold medal in the senior string division of the 2016 Fischoff National Chamber Music competition, as quartet members have also performed in prestigious halls such as Esterházy Palace, Carnegie Hall, and the Taiwan National Concert Hall.

The key link to P.E.I. in this quartet is violinist Christina Bouey, who grew up on the Island and who has been blossoming in her career as a soloist and chamber musician in New York and who Islanders may have seen performing home in 2014, as part of the 150 year celebrations, when Juilliard dancers performed a modern dance to her first musical commission for solo violin. Bouey is currently serving as concertmaster of the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra.

Other members of the Ulysses Quartet include Colin Brookes on viola, Grace Ho on cello and Rhiannon Banerdt on violin. All four young members of the quartet have highly impressive, merit-filled backgrounds of international experience and education as soloists and chamber musicians at these early stages in their careers.

This was the first performance on P.E.I. for the quartet.  Members were welcomed with resounding applause as they made their entrance at the Steel Recital Hall this past Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The first two pieces in the program, Luzzi’s Ave Maria and Vavilov’s Ave Maria, were led by soprano Sung Ha Shin-Bouey. The quartet and Shin-Bouey caressed the room in warm sound– distinctly-clear and smoothly-delivered.

“Thanks so much for coming out! Even though it’s going to be storming in like two hours,” smiled Christina Bouey, introducing the quartet after the opening two pieces.

“I’m so excited to be back home and to share my music with all of you. And it’s my sincere privilege to be able to bring my awesome friends and colleagues here, all the way from New York City,” she added, as she then introduced the three other members of the ensemble.

The quartet then proceeded to bring forth Dmitri Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 10 in A flat – with its intriguing and compelling soundscape in four movements – each with its own distinct world of complexity and yet interconnected in a simplistic theme that threads throughout.

And it was in this piece that we were able to take in the full extent of the skill of the quartet as individual players, and as a cohesive whole. Displaying remarkable coordination in their timing, the four players remained synced both rhythmically and in pitch, even in the most demanding of phrases.

Emotively and dynamically, the quartet is particularly astounding, too, where they can collectively wield a fervour of intense expression and at once bring it to a simmered-down mesmerizing hum of synchrony.

With a second half of the performance that included Igor Stravinsky’s Concertino and Claude Debussy’s String Quartet in G Minor, the concert continued to be fully engrossing – and throughout the remainder, what struck me the most was a mixture of two notions. The first is the four Ulysses players operate almost like a well-oiled four-part machine, but more so like four parts of a living being, all feeling the exact same emotion of the composition at a given time, collaboratively enthusing this into each piece’s dynamic flow.  Secondly, it’s clear the quartet members love what they do, and together they fire this passion into each note that they play – which makes it not only a joy to listen to, but also to watch them in action.

For more on The Ulysses Quartet, and to hear some of their performances for yourself, visit www.ulyssesquartet.com

Next week: A Friday the 13th night on the town, featuring the HIVE Open House and more.

Todd MacLean is a local freelance writer and musician. If you have a comment or suggestion for a review, you can get in touch with him at tmaclean@theguardian.pe.ca or at 902-626-1242. But he won’t be offended if you don’t.

 

Todd’s Picks:

1.Culture P.E.I.‘s HIVE Open House – The Startup Zone, 31 Queen St., today from 6 to 8 p.m. 

2.Richard Wood and Gordon Belsher – Old Triangle Pub, today and tomorrow at 7 p.m. 

3.54th Annual Lebanese Levee – Delta Hotel, tomorrow at 7 p.m. 

4.Winterjazz – The Pourhouse, tomorrow at 7 p.m. Featuring The Glen Strickey Quartet with special guest, Jill Chandler.

5.Treble with Girls QEH Fundraiser Concert Series – Our Lady of Assumption Church Hall, Stratford, Sunday at 2 p.m. Featuring Treble with Girls with special guest, Eddy Quinn.

 

All the way from New York City, the Ulysses Quartet was in Charlottetown for its much-anticipated performance and the impending snowstorm certainly did not keep the audience away.

The Ulysses Quartet was founded just a year and a half ago, but they have already been winners of the grand prize and the gold medal in the senior string division of the 2016 Fischoff National Chamber Music competition, as quartet members have also performed in prestigious halls such as Esterházy Palace, Carnegie Hall, and the Taiwan National Concert Hall.

The key link to P.E.I. in this quartet is violinist Christina Bouey, who grew up on the Island and who has been blossoming in her career as a soloist and chamber musician in New York and who Islanders may have seen performing home in 2014, as part of the 150 year celebrations, when Juilliard dancers performed a modern dance to her first musical commission for solo violin. Bouey is currently serving as concertmaster of the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra.

Other members of the Ulysses Quartet include Colin Brookes on viola, Grace Ho on cello and Rhiannon Banerdt on violin. All four young members of the quartet have highly impressive, merit-filled backgrounds of international experience and education as soloists and chamber musicians at these early stages in their careers.

This was the first performance on P.E.I. for the quartet.  Members were welcomed with resounding applause as they made their entrance at the Steel Recital Hall this past Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The first two pieces in the program, Luzzi’s Ave Maria and Vavilov’s Ave Maria, were led by soprano Sung Ha Shin-Bouey. The quartet and Shin-Bouey caressed the room in warm sound– distinctly-clear and smoothly-delivered.

“Thanks so much for coming out! Even though it’s going to be storming in like two hours,” smiled Christina Bouey, introducing the quartet after the opening two pieces.

“I’m so excited to be back home and to share my music with all of you. And it’s my sincere privilege to be able to bring my awesome friends and colleagues here, all the way from New York City,” she added, as she then introduced the three other members of the ensemble.

The quartet then proceeded to bring forth Dmitri Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 10 in A flat – with its intriguing and compelling soundscape in four movements – each with its own distinct world of complexity and yet interconnected in a simplistic theme that threads throughout.

And it was in this piece that we were able to take in the full extent of the skill of the quartet as individual players, and as a cohesive whole. Displaying remarkable coordination in their timing, the four players remained synced both rhythmically and in pitch, even in the most demanding of phrases.

Emotively and dynamically, the quartet is particularly astounding, too, where they can collectively wield a fervour of intense expression and at once bring it to a simmered-down mesmerizing hum of synchrony.

With a second half of the performance that included Igor Stravinsky’s Concertino and Claude Debussy’s String Quartet in G Minor, the concert continued to be fully engrossing – and throughout the remainder, what struck me the most was a mixture of two notions. The first is the four Ulysses players operate almost like a well-oiled four-part machine, but more so like four parts of a living being, all feeling the exact same emotion of the composition at a given time, collaboratively enthusing this into each piece’s dynamic flow.  Secondly, it’s clear the quartet members love what they do, and together they fire this passion into each note that they play – which makes it not only a joy to listen to, but also to watch them in action.

For more on The Ulysses Quartet, and to hear some of their performances for yourself, visit www.ulyssesquartet.com

Next week: A Friday the 13th night on the town, featuring the HIVE Open House and more.

Todd MacLean is a local freelance writer and musician. If you have a comment or suggestion for a review, you can get in touch with him at tmaclean@theguardian.pe.ca or at 902-626-1242. But he won’t be offended if you don’t.

 

Todd’s Picks:

1.Culture P.E.I.‘s HIVE Open House – The Startup Zone, 31 Queen St., today from 6 to 8 p.m. 

2.Richard Wood and Gordon Belsher – Old Triangle Pub, today and tomorrow at 7 p.m. 

3.54th Annual Lebanese Levee – Delta Hotel, tomorrow at 7 p.m. 

4.Winterjazz – The Pourhouse, tomorrow at 7 p.m. Featuring The Glen Strickey Quartet with special guest, Jill Chandler.

5.Treble with Girls QEH Fundraiser Concert Series – Our Lady of Assumption Church Hall, Stratford, Sunday at 2 p.m. Featuring Treble with Girls with special guest, Eddy Quinn.

 

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