In Case You Missed It: Dali Quartet Gets Princeton Audience Dancing in the Aisle

A sparkling performance by the Dali Quartet to a capacity crowd at its July 28 concert at the Nassau Presbyterian Church may prove to be the musical highlight of the summer season.

But we should not be surprised. The Dali Quartet is the 2021 recipient of Chamber Music America's Guarneri String Quartet Residency, the 2021 Silver Medal at the inaugural Piazzolla Music Competition, as well as the 2019 recipient of the Atlanta Symphony's esteemed Aspire Award for accomplished African American and Latino Musicians. Cementing their stellar reputation are the group's Latin Fiesta Workshops, Family Concerts, and professional development classes for students.

Having personally spent two rewarding years in Venezuela, I am a huge admirer of Venezuelan Gustavo Dudamel, the charismatic conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic [and the future director of the New York Philharmonic]. I heard him speak and saw him conduct, when he was an artist-in-residence at Princeton University in 2018 and 2019.

I was therefore intrigued by the fact that the Quartet's violinist Carlos Rubio is also Venezuelan and began studying music in Venezuela's famous Youth Orchestra System ("El Sistema") which teaches impoverished children how to play an instrument. Dudamel also studied music at El Sistema. Violist Adriana Linares is a Venezuelan-American, and cellist Jesus Morales and violinist Ari Isaacman-Beck are also of Latin descent.

There were three memorable pieces on the program, the last in this season's series of Princeton University Summer Chamber Concerts. The first was Franz Schubert's (1797-1828) captivating "String Quartet No 10 in E-flat Major, Op 125, No 1, D.87" which Schubert composed when he was 16 years old. In the vibrant and joyous piece, the Quartet played as a single unit, in perfect sync.

Second on the program was Astor Piazzolla's (1921-1992) exuberant "Tango Ballet" in which Piazzolla freed the tango from its traditional patterns and gave it more nuances in such a way that the swinging melody reminded me of jazz musicians in Paris.

Concluding the concert was Pyotr Illyvich Tchaikovsky's (1840-1893) "String Quartet No. 1, D Major, Op. 11" (1871), which was sensuous, sensitive, and melodic.

The Quartet's artistic skill and cohesion of sound brought the audience to its feet in enthusiastic applause and shouts of approval at the conclusion of the concert. The Quartet's response was to play as an encore Gerardo Matos Rodriguez' classic tango "La Cumparsita," which prompted some audience members, including me, to dance in the aisles.

Linda Sipprelle, Tap Into Princeton
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