When you hear the words “electronic music” what comes to mind? Aphex Twin? Daft Punk? Skrillex? Most likely not late 19th and early 20th century composer Maurice Ravel. Well, maybe it should. This past weekend the Los Angeles based string foursome the Calder Quartet had a concert at the Blum And Poe art gallery titled “Electric Currents,” in order to kick off the fundraising for an album of the same name. At the show the quartet played three songs it commissioned from composers who are pushing boundaries when it comes to classical music. One piece featured 8-bit recordings and another used electric accompaniment.
The Calder Quartet has never shied away from incorporating new technologies into its performances, having in the past played “Honey Flyers,” another commissioned work, with a robotic cello named “the Boticello.” The quartet embraces contemporary music, collaborating with such acts as Adnrew W.K. and the National, but stays true to its classical roots by rooting their performance in the skills developed through studying musical traditions. That’s why despite playing the three new pieces Calder finished its set by playing Ravel’s “String Quartet.” Andrew Bulbrook, one of the group’s two violinists, introduced the piece by saying that despite not having computer generated sounds, for Ravel’s composition the quartet would be using leather mutes, which during the turn of the 20th century was about as technologically advanced as it got.
If you’d like to support the Electric Currents album you can check out the Calder Quartet’s Kickstarter page here.
All photos by Annie Lesser.