Music on a String

Music on a string: Quartet melds classical, rock, jazz

When violinist Wayne Bennett, who is also interim music director for the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra, saw the Dallas String Quartet play at Midwestern State University in 2015, he had one of those “a-ha” moments.

“When I saw them perform, I thought they are the epitome of not doing what you think they’re going to be doing. A friend of mine thought he was at a ’70s rock concert.”

To enhance the musical horizons of junior high and high school students, Bennett recommended to the symphony’s education program committee members that they bring the quartet in to work with young strings musicians.

In addition to working with strings students, the ensemble also will perform a live free concert 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12 at Akin Auditorium on the Midwestern State University campus. Seating is first come, first serve.

The musicians of the Dallas String Quartet will teach a master class to junior high and high school strings students.

“They will play, talk about themselves and show the students some techniques,” Bennett said. “We want to show kids that there are alternate ways to do strings. Strings are not just limited to playing in a symphony orchestra or playing Mozart and Beethoven. They can do almost anything.”

The proof is in the eclectic Dallas quartet, which was formed by former Southern Methodist University students nearly nine years ago. Viola player Ion Janca is from Romania, violinist Tatiana Glava from Moldova, violinist Melissa Priller hails from Chicago, and recently arrived bassist Young Heo is South Korean.

The quartet performs classical music, classic rock, Latin, jazz and a little country music.

“The first half of our evening performance will be as a classical string quartet, and we’ll do music like Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ and Elgar’s ‘Salut d’Amour,'” Janca said. “In the second half, we will switch to the electric quartet.”

They will perform Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer,” Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and “1,000 Years” from the “Twilight” soundtrack, as well as mashups and medleys, such as combining Paganini and Gloria Gaynor’s disco hit, “I Will Survive.”

“Our Thursday performance is almost like a journey from where we started (as a quartet) to our latest album, ‘DSQ,’” he said. The group will play about half of the songs from “DSQ,” which was released in August 2016.

What is different about “DSQ,” he said, is that it includes the group’s first original song, “Drops of Jewels,” which he wrote about his 3-year-old son. The tune mixes classical and pop and came from mornings when he would awake at 6 a.m. to strum his violin and play for his child to stop his crying.

The audience will be introduced to the group’s newest member, Heo, who is a recent University of North Texas graduate.

“We wanted to bring someone in with some jazz experience,” Janca said. “He’s a fantastic player who was with the One O’Clock Lab (jazz) Band and brings a little different attributes to our band.”

There should be something musically for everyone, Janca said.

“There’s classical, there’s jazz, there’s Latin, there’s pop, there’s rock. We won’t forget anyone.”

The members of the Dallas String Quartet enjoy doing outreach for younger musicians

“Whenever we work for certain symphonies, we do outreach. They like for us to play, because they want children to realize that in addition to Mozart and Bach, the kids can also play styles of popular music.”

Following the performance, Bennett said violinist Mark Wood will return to work with the Wichita Falls Independent School District in the middle of January for three days of school concerts and a teacher workshop.

Wood, a founding member of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, is a rock ‘n’ roll electric violinist who also designs his own instruments. In May 2016, he led students at the All-City Strings Festival.

IF YOU GO            

What: Dallas String Quartet

When: 7:30 p.m. Jan 12

Where: Akin Auditorium, Midwestern State University, 3410 Taft Blvd.

Admission: Free