We’ve commented a number of times about the fertile acoustic string music scene in and around Boston, MA. It is fueled in large part by the number of prestigious and highly selective music schools in the area, and a willingness on the part of young musicians there to try some new things.
One interesting new group to emerge from this primordial ooze is Folk Arts Quartet, a group that mixes elements of bluegrass, old time, Celtic and Canadian fiddle music into the traditional string quartet format. Their self-titled CD has just been released and they are getting very positive feedback for their live performances.
Folk Arts Quartet was formed by four young women who met while studying at the Berklee College of Music, where the string department faculty took an interest in the group and provided mentoring and coaching as their sound and repertoire were being developed. The music on their CD is drawn from traditional fiddle music in a number of styles, plus original compositions from the quartet’s members, in a m?©lange they call Chambergrass.
The current group consists of Ivonne Hernadez and Hannah Read on violin, Julie Metcalf on viola and Emma Beaton on cello. All have quite an impressive list of accomplishments for such young musicians, including solo CDs and competition wins to their credit.
The original group included Liz Davis Maxfield on cello, who is featured on the CD. Liz has just graduated from Berklee (as have Hernandez and Metcalf), and she has accepted a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Ireland for a year.
Beaton also performs with Joy Kills Sorrow, a young Boston-based progressive bluegrass band which highlights Emma’s voice and the several band members’ original material.
Here’s a taste of the music from the Folk Arts Quartet CD, a medley they call For the Boys, which includes Cold Fish, Eric’s and Cincinnati.
They perform with a far more relaxed persona than is typical for a string quartet, as this YouTube video from Folk Alliance ’09 in Memphis demonstrates:
Hat’s off to FAQ for their creative attitude, and to Berklee for fostering the development of new avenues for traditional fiddle music.