A Canadian string quartet goes beyond the realm of “classic” classical music.
The St. Lawrence String Quartet will perform at 7:30 tonight in Schwab Auditorium, as part of the Center for the Performing Arts’ Classical Music Project.
Violinist of the group Geoff Nuttall said that he doesn’t like the label “classical” music.
“[Classical music] is no different than Outkast or Bob Dylan,” he said.
It has the same power to move the listener and is still a language that everyone can understand, Nuttall said.
“You can go to Zimbabwe and it’s still gettable,” he said.
The label “classical” connotes a “stuffy” ideal that is a “detachment from the emotion,” which tonight’s performance in no way exemplifies, Nuttall said.
The Classical Musical Project, which the quartet is a part of, is a three-year program from the CPA, which features eight artistic groups –– included in which is Ludwig van Beethoven’s complete quartets.
The St. Lawrence String Quartet is an ensemble-in-residence at Stanford University and will return to State College, for a second time, to play more of Beethoven’s work.
George Trudeau is the director of the CPA and said “the Classical Music Project is about raiding visibility of classical music programs and engaging students.”
The St. Lawrence String Quartet and Princeton University’s Brentano String Quartet will together, over three seasons, perform the entirety of Beethoven’s quartets.
“It’s a huge undertaking,” Marica Tacconi, the Classical Music Project’s faculty leader for Curricular and Academic Programs and professor of musicology in the School of Music, said.
Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Classical Music Project aims to engage students and faculty “in a way that was not possible before,” Tacconi said.
The groups that perform within the project also participate in other engaging activities on campus, besides concerts, she said.
The St. Lawrence String Quartet visited the Smeal College of Business yesterday to speak about team building, Trudeau said.
Besides speaking to students, the group participated in an informal conversation called “Salon Evening,” Tacconi said.
Tacconi said that classical music is sometimes thought of as “too cerebral,” but she wanted students to know that this is not the truth.
“Once you go, you realize that this music speaks to the heart,” she said. “Beethoven is obviously a major composer” and the string quartets that will perform for the CPA are “gems in this repertoire.”
The St. Lawrence String Quartet is one of the most significant and world-renowned quartets, Tacconi said.
Nuttall said that the original members of the group grew up together in Canada in 1989.
“We graduated and realized we had to do something,” he said.
The St. Lawrence String Quartet was formed in Toronto, Canada and moved to New York City. The group found its current home at Stanford University 11 years ago, Nuttall said.
Tonight’s performance will contain three quartets from each of Beethoven’s stages of growth, including his late period, which is arguably when he created his greatest pieces, Nuttall said.
Beethoven is an amazing and personal journey, Nuttall said.
Whether performance attendees are well-versed in Beethoven or have never heard his work before, Trudeau recommended seeing the quartet.
The quartet is an incredibly engaging ensemble that is fun to watch, he said.
The group is “very exuberant in performing style,” he said. “This is [Beethoven’s] music performed at the highest level.”
Tickets for the public are $42 and are $15 for Penn State students. Prior to the group’s performance tonight, there will be a conversation with the artists at 6:30 p.m.