String Explorations

Real Vocal String Quartet -  Real Vocal String Quartet
Real Vocal String Quartet – Real Vocal String Quartet
Real Vocal String Quartet

Real Vocal String Quartet (Flower Note Records, 2010)

Although there are a lot of string quartets out there, the all-female Real Vocal String Quartet stands out because of its beautiful combination of violins, cello and viola with polyphonic vocals performed by the instrumentalists. Irene Sazer (violin and vocals), Dina Maccabee (viola and vocals), Alisa Rose (violin and vocals), and Jessiva Ivry  (cello and vocals) take string ensemble chamber music and blend it with American bluegrass, Brazilian melodies written by the legendary Pixinguinha, Balkan influences, African rhythms inspired by Mali’s Tinariwen and jazz improvisation.

There is a perception that ‘new music’ for classically trained musicians needs to be difficult or inaccessible,” says Dina Maccabee, a violist in the group. “We are all totally into challenging ideas but we also like pop music. And we feel like just because you have a highly trained skill set doesn’t mean you need to play obscure music.”

There are many neuroses that come with being a classical violinist; perfectionism among them,” explains Irene Sazer, an original member of the Turtle Island String Quartet and founder of Real Vocal String Quartet. “Often in the pedagogy, there’s a real meanness. There’s a good and a bad, a right and a wrong. You succeeded, you failed. It’s a very restrictive box that I’ve been working on breaking out of my whole life. One of my goals and needs in life is to create an ensemble where there is room for everybody both personally and creatively. Key to that is ample room for exploration.”

I find myself most fascinated and soothed by rhythmic texture these days,” said Sazer. “I was listening to these intricate rhythmic sections and the scintillating vocals of African music.”

We’re playing all these Western classical instruments and we are all like Jewish girls,” Maccabee laughs. “But there is something about that combination… It’s a little bit trance and really rich in rhythm; if maybe more simple in terms of harmony. Things don’t move around a lot. The richness is in the timbres and the rhythmic element and we all want to explore that. Rather than a jazz tune with one hundred million chords which is a different kind of complexity. Strings and voice and hands and feet. It’s all about layers of sounds and the color of sound.”

Real Vocal String Quartet shows us a versatile mix of chamber music with world music by four outstanding instrumentalists.

Buy the album: Real Vocal String Quartet

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