WEEKEND: Quartet reunites for night of music in Maier Hall on Saturday
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The reunited Port Angeles String Quartet — from left, Heather Montgomery, Fred Thompson, Kate Dean and Christopher Taber — will offer a single concert at Peninsula College this Saturday.

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The task before us: Breathe life into the inert ink marks on the page.

The marks — notes written by three musical giants — range from 121 to 224 years old. And this Saturday evening, four explorers of the classics intend to make them brand-new. The Port Angeles String Quartet, an ensemble formed in 2004 and later disbanded, will reunite for a single public concert at Peninsula College's Maier Performance Hall, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd.

In the 7 p.m. event, the foursome will offer a program reflecting “a whole spectrum of emotions,” said violinist Kate Dean.

Evokes moods

To her ear, some passages are playful; some are achingly beautiful, some are explosions of excitement, and still others sound full of mischief.

“I also hope,” Dean added, “we can convey the enjoyment we four musicians experience when performing together.”

Alongside fellow violinist Christopher Taber, violist Heather Montgomery and cellist Fred Thompson, Dean will offer Antonin Dvorak's “American” Quartet No. 6, Beethoven's third Quartet in C Major and Haydn's Quartet in D Major, aka the “Lark.”

Dvorak's “American” work “contains one great melody after another,” said Thompson.

“This is going to be easy music to listen to.”

The three pieces of the program are so diverse, added Montgomery, that each listener will find something that speaks to him or her.

Exciting finale

The Beethoven quartet will be the finale; the last movement “is really exciting,” she promised.

Like Dean, Montgomery and Taber, Thompson is a longtime lover of such music.

He played the classics with the Port Angeles SymphonyOrchestra in years past; it was the late Nico Snel, conductor of the symphony for 18 years, who suggested the four get together as a chamber ensemble.

“Nico was a good violinist himself and would love to have played in the quartet,” Thompson recalled, “but near the end of his life, he sensed that he was not up to participating himself.

“Instead, like the great and humble man and educator that he was, he took great pleasure in seeing others come together to make music.”

Snel died in 2003 at age 69, after a long fight with cancer. Thompson and the Port Angeles String Quartet played at his memorial gathering.

Then, for just a year and a half between 2004 and 2006, the string ensemble spread its music all over Clallam County, from the Rainfest in Forks to the Olympic Cellars winery.

Separate ways

But then the members went their separate ways: Montgomery moved to Spokane, where she's a music teacher and conductor, and Dean retired, as did Thompson, who moved to Portland, Ore. Taber moved to British Columbia, where he performs with the Victoria Symphony.

But when David Jones, head of the music department at Peninsula College, began to assemble the Maier Hall Concert Series for 2013-2014, the four decided to get back together again. Maier Hall is a sweet, intimate space, and Thompson said they're eager to play inside it.

Tickets to Saturday's concert are $15 for general admission and $5 for students; patrons are urged to buy in advance via www.pencol.edu/cultural-events.


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 04. 2014 6:47AM
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